Ask MTA of NYC to reverse their decision regarding ending the Access A Ride Pilot program

Ask MTA of NYC to reverse their decision regarding ending the Access A Ride Pilot program

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Petition to
MTA Board Members and

Why this petition matters

Started by Amier Agha

At the end of December 2021, MTA Slashed a popular program that provided on demand rides to over a thousand individuals with varying disabilities limiting their mobility to travel to and from work, and other places such as hospitals, schools, and places of worship.

“The “On-Demand E-Hail” Pilot initially launched in 2017, and allowed some users of Access-A-Ride – an MTA-run car service for commuters with disabilities that prevent them from taking public transit – to electronically book taxi rides as needed, for $2.75 a trip. The pilot proved immensely popular, with users hailing it as life-changing because it allows them to schedule rides immediately, as opposed to having to book a day in advance, as is required under traditional Access-A-Ride. The pilot program served 1,200 users, up from 200—when it first launched. 

Unemployment among individuals with disabilities is so prevalent. Especially among those who are blind and visually impaired where only 30% of these individuals are employed. 

Putting an end to such a life changing program can mean loss of jobs and limited travel mobility for these individuals.

The individuals to whom the program was extended will be forced to use traditional Access-A-Ride service for their up-coming rides, which requires users to book at least a day in advance. Those rides are also shared with other Access-A-Ride users, meaning trips are often lengthy, with drivers taking circuitous and indirect routes to drop off and pick up other passengers, sometimes for hours at a time.

Users and accessibility advocates argue that it’s unfair to end rides under the program, and are calling for the MTA to offer an on-demand booking option to all of Access-A-Ride’s 160,000 users, saying the requirement that rides be schedule one to two days ahead of time makes the service impractical for meeting actual real-life demands.

“What are you going to do tomorrow? How long will your meetings last? Well, if you’re on Access-A-Ride you have to book it today: when you want to be there, and when you’re going to leave,” Jean Ryan, of the advocacy group Disabled in Action, testified at the MTA’s board meeting, where she and other Access-A-Ride users protested the new policy with dinosaur-themed posters and an inflatable tyrannosaurus rex – a tongue-in-cheek display meant to urge the MTA to modernize the service.

“We need on-demand without restrictions. Otherwise we’re just going to be hanging around waiting for a ride all the time or missing meetings and leaving before they’re done, things like that,” Ryan said. “It really is not really possible to live an active life like that.”

Advocacy groups are also pushing for state lawmakers to act on a bill, sponsored by State Sen. Leroy Comrie, which would require the MTA to continue the on-demand E-Hail program through spring of 2022 and expand it to another 1,200 users without placing any usage restrictions on participants. The bill would also require the MTA to produce a report on costs and how the program is used, with the goal of expanding it further.

Justin Wood, an organizer with New York lawyers for the public interest, says they estimate extending the program as the bill dictates would cost no more than $16 million, what he says would be a “very modest cost” for the city and state in the long-run, and would provide additional data on the pilot program that could be used to expand it.

“It’s just not too much to ask to provide a life-changing service to New Yorkers with disabilities,” he says. 

49 have signed. Let’s get to 50!