Access A Ride Should Be More Accessible
As much as I appreciate Access A Ride as an incredibly inexpensive means of travel for a person who cannot use public transportation, I must register a complaint about the way it is run. First of all the person to be transported must wait up to 30 minutes for the vehicle, while the transporting van or car will only wait five minutes. This puts a heavy burden on an individual, like me, who is suffering from various serious ailments and cannot always move that quickly. (I have chronic pain in my feet and cannot stand for more that a few minutes without unbearable suffering.). And then what if that disabled person is forced to wait in the street for up to thirty minutes in rain, snow or excessively hot or cold weather? AAR is really not a viable option especially if the vehicle is does not arrive after the designated time and a private service must be called or the person is denied care or needed recreation? New York’s super wealthy disabled population can call their personal limousines, the rest of us do not have that privilege.
There is a solution to this problem, but officially drivers are forbidden to use it. (Some kind-hearted souls do it anyway). All these drivers have the disabled persons’ home and (if they supply it) cell phone telephone numbers. They can easily get in touch with their scheduled passengers. A call would be the most efficient and compassionately means of alerting clients that their rides are ready to pick them up, and they must get to the vehicle and be ready to depart.
There are other problems as well that I have encountered while attempting to use this service. It very difficult to schedule a return trip when one doesn’t know how long the appointment will take. For example, it is impossible to know when one will be finished with doctors’ visits. One can only guess a return time, but more than likely it won’t be the correct one. Then it is necessary to call and cancel the return ride, reschedule a new one, and again have to face the possibility of a long wait that can also include the half hour waiting period... This is most not being kind to sick people. Often a patient is forced to spend the greater part of the day waiting for an AAR vehicle.
Again the driver could make a better use of cell phones, the patients could call “Assess A Ride, let them know when they are finished, and a driver in the vicinity could call the patients back and quickly pick them up.
I must add that although I abhor the lack of efficiency that went into the planning of the AAR program, I am grateful to the parts of it that I can use. I am lucky enough to live in a house that has a large picture looking out on the street and in front of it is a large soft couch on which I can stretch out as I wait for my ride. I can be outside in a few minutes. So I use ARR for one-way trips only, and for the return I take an authorized car service or a taxi for which I have to put up the money. Before I discovered how to do the authorized care trip and found an realizable and relatively inexpensive service, I once paid $55 for a return trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn from midtown because it was impossible to flag down a taxi at 4:00PM .--that’s expensive and it shouldn’t be necessary. It was certainly a waste of the taxpayer’s money. I tried the ARR car service, but they were one half an hour late, so I missed my doctor’s appointment.
Now I have found another car service which is reliable and reasonable. However it is difficult at times to find the money to pay for round trips to Manhattan where most of my doctors are located as I don’t have all those many extra dollars to spend. I do get reimbursed mines the $2:50, for the trips, but it take over a month. Fortunately, my husband is able to take to doctor’s appointment in our family car if I make them later in the afternoon. (He is still working as an independent sales representative, at the age of 78, and needs the car in the mornings for his business appointments.). But many other people do not have even limited source of private travel than AAR.
It seems unconscionable that the MTA keeps complaining that they have no money, and need to raise subway fares, yet they allow Access A Ride to be run in this wasteful and inconsiderate fashion.