As we all know the MTA has severe budget issues. We also know that the agency has never been a model for financial responsibility. Bruce Golding of the New York Post looks into the agency’s budget issues caused by the mismanagement of paratransit services. Here is his the brief report:
The MTA spends $63 per ride on disabled passengers in a mismanaged system that wastes at least $30 million a year, critics charge.
Paying taxi fares for disabled passengers who don’t use wheelchairs would have been cheaper – and shaved a quick $13 million off the bill in 2006, according to the Independent Budget Office.
The city’s federally mandated Access-a-Ride program is the most expensive in the nation – $19 more per ride than Chica go’s and $34 more than LA’s.
The expense is pegged at $316 million next year – 3 per cent of the $11.2 billion budget – and is projected to more than double to $518 million by 2012.
City taxpayers will also shell out nearly $70 million in subsi dies in 2009.
The agency admits in its new budget that the federally man dated door-to-door program is costing an extra $9 million to $10 million a year because of “lower-than-anticipated pro ductivity.”
City Councilman John Liu (D- Queens) whose Transportation Committee issued a scathing report on Access-a-Ride earlier this year, blamed much of the problem on inept dispatching of its nearly 2,000 vans and cars.
“It’s hard to imagine that with tighter management they couldn’t shave off about $20-or-$30 million off the top,” he said.
Tom Charles, vice president of paratransit for the MTA, said that most of the problems were due to booming demand for service and that new contracts with six more outside companies would boost efficiency by balancing out short and long trips.
Charles said rider surveys showed 80 percent satisfaction with Access-a-Ride.
I understand the importance of providing adequate transportation operations for the disabled. However with the financial burden the agency faces, I would support ways to cut costs while still providing adequate service. If paying for taxi fares would help the MTA save money, they should do it if legally possible.
As far as the federal government is concerned, if they can mandate the spending on this service, they should also be able to help fund the system for non-disabled riders. When you look at the facts, our transportation infrastructure is depended on by millions who are not disabled so they should not be overlooked.
xoxo Transit Blogger