Greenfield: Let Access-A-Ride passengers use Uber
Council member wants more options for riders
Passengers who use Access-A-Ride should be able to use ride-sharing services like Uber and get reimbursements from the MTA, according to a Brooklyn lawmaker who has issued a request to the agency.
City Councilmember David Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood-Bensonhurst) said his office has seen an increase in complaints from riders unhappy with the MTA’s Access-A- Ride service.
Access-A- Ride is a door-to-door transportation service for elderly, frail and disabled passengers.
The MTA operates the service.
But Greenfield said the service is fraught with problems, including delays that force passengers to cool their heels waiting for their rides to arrive.
“I receive frequent calls on this topic from seniors and disabled passengers who have missed medical appointments, been late to family engagements or even been stranded in the rain because of poor Access-A-Ride service,” Greenfield said in a statement. “They are sick and tired of being neglected by the MTA. We have a responsibility to do better by our most vulnerable citizens.”
According to a 2015 audit by city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Access-A- Ride has had serious difficulties providing New Yorkers the level of service to which they are entitled. Access-A- Ride drivers are frequently late to pick up their customers. Even worse, drivers often fail to show up at all, Stringer’s audit found. Access-A- Ride customers were left stranded over 31,000 times in 2015 alone.
“It’s worth pointing out that an Access-A- Ride driver is not even considered late until more than 30 minutes have elapsed after the designated pickup time,” Greenfield said. “Meanwhile, if a passenger misses the pickup time by even five minutes, the driver will leave — often without even bothering to attempt to reach the passenger he is supposed to be picking up.”
Greenfield said that by allowing Access-A-Ride passengers to use services like Uber or Lyft, customers can have certainty as to when their vehicle will arrive, and an easy means of getting in touch with the driver if there is a problem.
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the agency is considering options.
“With the rise of the e-hail market we, like other transit agencies, are also looking at how that market may be useful in providing para-transit services,” Ortiz told the Brooklyn Eagle.
But Ortiz also defended Access-A- Ride.
“Access-A- Ride enhances the mobility of more than 144,000 New York City residents. Even though we carry 6.3 million customers per year, one missed ride is one too many, which is why we are constantly striving to improve the service, management and cost controls of this important program. However, it is import to note that the 31,000 no-shows mentioned in the audit accounts for less than half of 1 percent of total trips. In fact, we have not denied a trip request due to insufficient capacity in more than 13 years,” he told the Eagle.