Disability Advocates Call on MTA to Resume Solo ‘Access-A-Ride’ Trips
Monday, August 23, 2021
NEW YORK - Tomorrow, advocates for New Yorkers with disabilities will ask the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to stop the shared-ride model for its Access-A-Ride service that resumed in July, because of ongoing public-health risks.
The COVID-19 delta variant is a big reason groups like the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, are against MTA reversing the single-ride passenger rule that's been in place throughout the pandemic.
Sharon McLennon-Wier, executive director of CIDNY, said more than one rider at a time poses a risk to others with health complications who can't be vaccinated.
"So I think at this point," said McLennon-Wier, "at least allow the single share-ride program to continue until we get a better grasp on infection rates and transmission rates as we go towards the fall with the delta variant."
Access-A-Ride drivers are contract workers, so they aren't required to follow the MTA's vaccination mandate.
McLennon-Wier noted a passenger might spend hours on paratransit getting to their destination because of multiple trips across the city. That can affect many aspects of life, from the ability to gain employment to attending appointments.
McLennon-Wier said folks also may not feel safe taking a bus or train, depending on their disability, and accessibility features like elevators are sparse and can lead to a longer trip.
"And it's problematic," said McLennon-Wier. "It could be a 20 minute ride that turns into two hours. This is why people use Access-A-Ride, because it is a door-to-door service and they have no alternative, because of cost."
McLennon-Wier, who is blind, acknowledged it can be difficult for people who consider themselves able-bodied to understand the importance of a more inclusive transportation system.
"I think if people start seeing themselves as 'this could happen to me' - or 'this could be me at any point,'" said McLennon-Wier, "perhaps we could start to get some more dignified responses to how we see accessibility and transportation in New York City."
Advocates will make their demands known tomorrow at 11 a.m. in front of MTA Administrative Headquarters in Manhattan.
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