The time for the implementation of the approved service cuts is getting closer & closer. Many different outlets including this blog have covered various angles of the cuts & how they will affect riders. However one section of cuts has not received much press & those happen to be the ones planned for Able-Ride.
As noted in this entry, “Able-Ride will no longer provide paratransit service to areas of Nassau County that are beyond the service area defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).” All though this particular section of cuts has not received much press, certain groups have been focusing on them. The groups in question are the Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (ACLD) & United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County, Inc. (UCPN).
Two days ago, I received an e-mail from a nice gentlemen named Colin from the Corbett Public Relations Firm informing me of some important information. Due to the approved service cuts to Able-Ride, the Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (ACLD) and United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County, Inc. (UCPN) have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the MTA. Here are the complete details courtesy of a press release sent to me:
Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities, Inc. (ACLD) and United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County, Inc. (UCPN) have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on behalf of eight disabled individuals from Nassau County who will see service eliminated on April 12, 2010. The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and injunction against the MTA to prevent drastic cuts to the Able-Ride program in Nassau County. Able-Ride is part of the MTA’s paratransit bus service for people with disabilities.
The cuts, to take effect April 12th, will impact individuals with disabilities who live more than 3/4 of a mile from a bus line. These individuals will no longer have access or receive much needed transportation services. Individuals who live within 3/4 miles of a bus line will see service cut and many will only receive Able-Ride transportation to a bus stop. These cuts, if put into effect, will cause considerable hardship to persons with disabilities in Nassau County, negatively impact their right to live independently and will cause many to lose their jobs.
ACLD and its partners in this lawsuit object to the methods the MTA used to notify Nassau County residents about the cuts to the Able-Ride program. No public notices or announcements of cuts were made. Only those who use the Able-Ride service were mailed letters informing them of the MTA’s drastic cuts. Organizations like ACLD, and others, who routinely assist users of the Able-Ride program, were not informed of these sweeping changes.
Many of the program riders are elderly, or suffer from cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, which makes understanding the changes in service difficult. This situation has left many seniors, as well as organizations that assist seniors and the disabled, in the dark about who is affected by the proposed cuts. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the MTA and Long Island Bus are required to look for alternatives and communicate more fully with people who are disabled before making substantial changes in policies.
“In our opinion the MTA’s cuts will affect Nassau County’s disabled community disproportionately. Removing transportation services for this population will be devastating. Most of these individuals have no other means of transportation. We understand that the MTA is making cuts and non-disabled people may lose some access to service, however they will not lose all of their services as will be the case with many people with disabilities,” said Aaron Liebowitz, Executive Director of ACLD.
“These cuts are disastrous to Long Island’s elderly and disabled residents, and to the regional economy. The people with disabilities rely on the Able-Ride program for transportation to and from work, doctor’s appointments, grocery and drug stores. These cuts will also negatively affect the regional economy by preventing people from getting to work and stopping people from shopping locally,” said Robert McGuire, Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County, Inc.
ACLD is a leading nonprofit agency on Long Island. For more than 50 years, it has served the needs of more than 3,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. ACLD’s mission is to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to pursue an enviable life, to increase their independence, and improve the quality of their lives in the community. For more information, please visit the ACLD website at www.acld.org. To voice your objection to the MTA cuts, please call Able-Ride at 516-228-4000 or email them by clicking on the contact us tab at http://mta.info/libus/.
I will continue to follow up on this as developments occur. I hope to schedule some sort of time to speak with anyone involved with this case. Stay tuned….
xoxo Transit Blogger