We applaud efforts to make transit more reliable, accessible and affordable for all New Yorkers, including late-night commuters underserved by current subway and bus routes and schedules.
However, the MTA’s “late-shift” proposal lacks a commitment to serving individuals with disabilities. Federal, state, and local laws require the MTA to make any new transportation program fully accessible to the disability community. Otherwise, riders with disabilities will, once again, be left at the curb.
The proposal also comes at a curious time, since the Authority is about to effectively kill off its innovative on-demand Access-A-Ride pilot program.
The Access-A-Ride on-demand program has been life-changing for thousands of New Yorkers with disabilities. It allows 1,200 Access-A-Ride users to travel freely around the city, by calling for a ride that takes them directly from point A to point B. Importantly, requests can finally be made when needed, not a day in advance. And equally as critical, the rides allow users to arrive at work, to doctor’s appointments, and social engagements on time — not delayed by tardy pick-ups, hugely late arrivals or circuitous routes.
In November, the MTA said it would impose severe restrictions on on-demand rides in the next phase of the pilot. These changes include limiting rides to $15 as measured by a taxi meter, which would mean riders could go only a mile or two before incurring heavy charges. Equally troubling, the MTA also said it would allow only 16 on-demand (eight round-trip) rides a month.
It does not make sense to cut a highly successful pilot program for one group of disadvantaged New Yorkers while looking to fund a separate pilot program for another. But that is exactly what the MTA is doing.
We call on the MTA and the Governor to act immediately to ensure that any late-shift program is fully accessible to persons with disabilities, and to preserve and expand the Access-A-Ride on-demand pilot.
Members of AARRG! include the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled (BCID), the Center for the Independence of the Disabled New York (CID-NY), Mobilization for Justice (MFJ), and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI).
For more information, contact AARRG! members, including Joe Rappaport, BCID, firstname.lastname@example.org / 646-284-1078.