Assemblyman Goldfeder Urges MTA to Keep Tabs on Access-A-Ride

In letter to MTA, Goldfeder supports recommendations by city Comptroller to install GPS tracking technology on Access-A-Ride contractor vehicles to improve service, hold providers accountable

 

Assemblyman cites “dozens” of calls to his office by Access-A-Ride customers frustrated by delayed or canceled rides and byzantine appeals process

 

Howard Beach, Queens – Following the release of an alarming new audit by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer into the performance of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Access-A-Ride program, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Howard Beach) is calling on the MTA to implement the Comptroller’s recommendations for reforming the paratransit service.

 

“Here in southern Queens and Rockaway we have severely limited access to transportation and one of the largest senior populations in the entire city,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “Many of our seniors and persons with disabilities depend on this program that does not provide them with the adequate service they need and deserve. I applaud Comptroller Stringer for shedding light on the problems that plague Access-A-Ride and I urge the MTA to implement the recommendations of this new audit.”

 

In a letter to MTA Chair Thomas Prendergast, Assemblyman Goldfeder called on the transit agency to consider implementing recommendations made by Comptroller Stringer in a new audit showing widespread instances of driver no-shows and alleged false reporting of on-time performance by Access-A-Ride contractors. Specifically, Goldfeder urged the MTA to require the installation of GPS tracking systems in Access-A-Ride vehicles. Citing the Comptroller’s report, Goldfeder argued that the move would improve performance and prevent contractor billing for no-show rides.

 

According to Goldfeder, his office has received dozens of complaints from local residents about a host of issues with the Access-A-Ride program, including repeat late arrivals, no-shows and issues with the appeals process. In one particularly egregious case, a constituent of Goldfeder reported missing chemotherapy appointments due to late arrivals and rides lasting as long as four hours. In another, a handicapped rider reported frequent late arrivals that her Access-A-Ride drivers reportedly attributed to getting lost due to not having GPS services available in their vehicles.

 

These concerns were reflected in the audit by Comptroller Stringer, which uncovered more than 31,000 vehicle no-shows. This, the report noted, is more than double the rate allowed to providers in their contracts with the program, which the federal government mandates under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The MTA complies with the law by relying on private carriers to pick up passengers in lift-equipped vans or ramp-equipped vehicles that can be reserved by phone.

 

No-shows falsely reported by providers as missed trips can have devastating consequences for those with limited mobility. Under the program, the MTA can suspend riders for up to a week for showing a pattern of missed trips, with repeat violations resulting in longer suspensions. In addition to GPS tracking to prevent the no-shows, the Comptroller’s audit also recommends terminating providers that inaccurately report trip and vehicle data, as well as consider implementing “alternatives to the existing service model.”

 

“Missing a ride or losing your Access-A-Ride service can mean the difference between getting to a doctor’s appointment and not receiving the services you need. That’s why ensuring good service is key to providing every person with the tools they need to lead productive, independent lives,” concluded Goldfeder. 

GOLD AND MTA

Howard Beach, Queens – Following the release of an alarming new audit by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer into the performance of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Access-A-Ride program, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Howard Beach) is calling on the MTA to implement the Comptroller’s recommendations for reforming the paratransit service

2 thoughts on “Assemblyman Goldfeder Urges MTA to Keep Tabs on Access-A-Ride”

  1. The entire Access-A-Ride system needs to be overhauled. While I have seen some improvements over the past eight years there is tremendous waste. It seems to me the biggest problems are caused by the AAR dispatchers. They often don’t know one borough from another! I live in Chelsea; last year called to find out where my very late ride was to my Infusion Therapy. The operator told me, “Your car is at Richmond Terrace and will be there in ten minutes”. I said, “Richmond Terrace – that’s in Staten Island – how could the car possibly get here in ten minutes”? To which she replied, “Oh, I never even heard of Richmond Terrace”. Also the drivers who are almost universally great have zero autonomy. They are not allowed to make on-the-spot decisions. The “Manifest” is god. You are picked up and dropped off according to the Manifest. If I’m rider Number One and we happen to pass by the drop off point for rider Number Two – the driver is not allowed to drop that passenger first. They MUST follow the manifest! This often results in tremendous waste of time not to mention gas. As far as GPS, some of the vehicles are equipped with it, but drivers have told me it’s a “cheap system”. As I go to Hospital for Special Surgery often, I know the best route from downtown West to uptown East. Sometimes the drivers really do appreciate my suggestion, but others say they “have to follow the GPS” regardless of traffic or other situations we may come across during the course of a ride. I’d like to know from the TA, if you are confident enough to hire a driver, why don’t you have enough confidence in that same person to make a decision while on the road? The dispatchers are merely computerized hacks – they cannot see what the driver sees in front of him or her.

    PS – Do not even get me started on the re-certification process! Have been there three times in the past year and STILL do not know if I have be “re-approved”.

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