Millions of commuters in the tri-state area know about the nightmare of service cuts & fare increases that might become our reality. No group of riders might have it as bad as those who depend on Access A Ride. The latest proposal calls for one way rides to go up to $5 which is an increase of 150%. The burden that this would put on those who depend on Access A Ride was not lost on New York City Comptroller & 2009 NYC Democratic Mayor hopeful William C. Thompson. He wrote an editorial for the New York Daily News:
‘Placing a greater burden on the disabled is unfair.’
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has just announced that it intends to charge up to $5 each way to people with disabilities who rely on its Access-A-Ride service for transportation. That’s a 150% increase – bringing the cost of a round-trip to work, school or the doctor to as much as $10 a day.
But unlike the 23% increase proposed for subways and buses – which is likewise inequitable – the Access-A-Ride hike can be stopped right now by Mayor Bloomberg, who has the power because of a contract the city signed 15 years ago with the MTA.
Run by the MTA, Access-A-Ride is a federally mandated program that is intended to serve individuals who cannot use the buses or subways because of disability.
Just as our city could not function if mainstream mass transit was taken away, disabled New Yorkers have few, if any, alternative transportation options to Access-A-Ride, which is an essential lifeline for them.
If the fare goes to $10 round-trip, people with disabilities will be hurt badly, imperiling employment or school, possibly forcing them to give up food or other essentials so they can afford their rides or, conversely, skipping medical appointments to pay for other necessities.
In 1993, when the Access-A-Ride program was transferred from the city Department of Transportation to the MTA, city leaders were deeply concerned about keeping the service affordable for a population that is among our city’s most economically disadvantaged.
For that reason, then-Mayor Dinkins negotiated a contract with the MTA that set the cost of a trip on Access-A-Ride equal to the one-way base fare on mass transit – currently $2. The contract says that the MTA cannot change the terms of the deal without the written permission of the mayor.
Click here for the complete editorial.
Well it is nice to see William step up for riders who have the hardest time getting around our city. While some might question his motives as nothing more than P.R. work, I feel his concern is genuine. He comes across as a straight shooter.
However if I were him, I would not depend on Mayor Bloomberg doing the right thing & putting a stop to such an increase. If any one politician or human in general is a hard nosed dollars & sense person, it is Michael Bloomberg. While he might not feel it is the right thing to do, the almighty bottom line is what would influence his decision. For the sake of those who depend on Access A Ride, lets hope they do not get hit with such a heavy increase.