Home Asides How the cuts impact disabled riders

How the cuts impact disabled riders

by Benjamin Kabak

When the MTA scales back service next month, its disabled riders will see many of their Access-A-Ride and paratransit options whittled down. The authority currently feels its Access-A-Ride options are too inclusive and too broad and that cost savings can be found by better personalizing paratransit trips and excluding some who have previously been included. To that end, the authority will implement $40 million worth of savings by replacing door-to-door service with feeder routes to accessible fixed-route transit stops, determining eligibility on a trip-by-trip rather than season-by-season basis and streamlining management and scheduling.

While the main focus of the coverage around the service cuts has delved into the labor battles and impact on everyday riders, City Limits recently highlighted how the cuts will impact the disabled riders. Many will find their trips longer and more circuitous; others will rely more on taxi vouchers than transit options. Still, as the MTA cuts services, they’re forging ahead with ADA compliancy efforts as more stations are slated to become accessible throughout five years covered by the next capital campaign. It is a challenging balancing act as the MTA stretches their dollars to keep pace with demand.

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anon May 3, 2010 - 12:19 pm

Don’t forget about subway access; most stations still require station agents to open the service gates for handicapped passengers.

Benjamin Kabak May 3, 2010 - 1:58 pm

If only we had accessible fare gates as they do in Boston:

Al D May 3, 2010 - 2:29 pm

And a lot closer…PATH

Aaron May 3, 2010 - 10:44 pm

Oh, good call, those also work very well, and don’t require being registered for New Jersey’s reduced-fare card. Since I rarely use PATH I haven’t wasted the time signing up for that one, but I keep my NYC autogate current since it’s required to open the iron gates to the stations.

Aaron May 3, 2010 - 10:49 pm

Anon: You can open the service gates yourself if you have an autogate card. Autogate cards are very difficult to obtain for recent newcomers and basically impossible for tourists to get, so someone is eventually going to sue MTA once autogate-equipped stations lose their station agents. I still remember moving to NYC in 2002 not knowing I needed an autogate card and wasting an afternoon in Brooklyn trying to convince them to give me a card for 1 month – I’m in a wheelchair and missing a leg, I was obviously eligible, but they wouldn’t do it without going through the paperwork. Was very frustrating, to say the least, and was probably violative of FTA regulations to boot.

SEAN May 3, 2010 - 12:24 pm

And what happends if an elevator is out of service at an accessable subway station?

Benjamin Kabak May 3, 2010 - 12:28 pm

The same thing that happens today: Someone is dispatched to fix it. As you can see right here, Transit maintains an elevator status website that’s updated quite frequently.

You don’t really think station agents have the knowledge and ability to repair a broken elevator, do you?

SEAN May 3, 2010 - 2:49 pm

]That’s not what I ment. If an Access a Ride user is dropped at a station but cant get to or from the train, what happends then? I pose the question do to the loss of station agents wich has been well documented here. Would the AAR drivers be notified of malfunctioning elevators a head of time? I would hope so, but this is the MTA after all.

Benjamin Kabak May 3, 2010 - 3:18 pm

AAR is subcontracted out. So it’s not 100 percent the MTA. I can’t speak for how it works in practice, but in theory, the drivers should know which stations have functioning elevators and which do not.

Aaron May 3, 2010 - 10:24 pm

Sean: I suspect not. Even the best transit agencies for accessibility (Los Angeles, Washington) don’t coordinate this information very well, unfortunately. It took forever for MTA to put this on a website instead of a rarely-updated recorded message that took 5-10 minutes to get through. Even now, the website stupidly isn’t available from the mta.info mobile site, so I have it bookmarked in my iPhone since I can’t get to it by going to mta.info.

An AAR customer that can’t get from the station entrance to the train because of their disability is still eligible for point-to-point service under federal law. An AAR customer that can’t get from the station entrance to the train because of an elevator failure should be taken to another train station (again, under federal law), but as a practical matter, particularly in the outer boroughs, should probably just be taken to their final destination. Some of the work-arounds for elevator outages are so ridiculous that I just take a cab.

Aaron May 3, 2010 - 4:49 pm

I wouldn’t sing the praises of those gates, Ben. When I lived there the disabled gates broke far more often than the autogates in NYC. The best system is like WMATA’s gates, where multiple gates are wheelchair accessible and don’t require pre-registering for an accessibility program like MTA’s autogates’ reduced-fare program.

Aaron May 3, 2010 - 9:13 pm

Wow, posting from my iPhone = no threaded posts. Sorry.


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