Access-A-Ride Paratransit Users Win Decision in Case Against the MTA for Equal Fare Discounts

June 17, 2024

AAR Settlement, Access-A-Ride, Access-a-Ride Reform Group, Britt v. MTA, Disability Justice, Health Justice, MTA, Media Coverage, News

Photo: A person (back to us) stands towards the back of the MTA's Access-A-Ride bus

New York, NY – June 17, 2024 — On June 12, 2024, the Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, denying the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s motion to dismiss the case. In the Court’s ruling, Judge Richard Tsai agreed “with plaintiffs that… the ADA and the DOT implementing regulations do not preempt” the New York City Human Rights Law. 

The case involves five individuals with disabilities who use Access-A-Ride Paratransit (AAR) fighting on behalf of a class of similarly-situated individuals, to end the discrimination that excludes them from public transit fare discounts. The MTA offers substantial fare discounts – including half fares for people with disabilities and seniors, as well as 30-day and 7-day unlimited fares – for bus and subway riders, but not for AAR riders, whose disabilities prevent them from riding buses and subways. The case also seeks to reimburse AAR riders for the financial harm they suffered due to the unavailability of these fare discounts. The plaintiffs are represented by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), Mobilization for Justice, and pro bono counsel Jenner & Block LLP. 

“Access-A-Ride users, most of whom are of limited means, rely on Access-A-Ride to travel to their jobs, schools, and medical appointments, and to visit with friends and family,” says Christopher Schuyler, managing attorney with the Disability Justice Program at NYLPI. “Extending these discounts – the very same discounts available to subway and bus riders – to Access-A-Ride will mean a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities who use Access-A-Ride.”

“It’s not fair that the MTA offers these discounts to subway and bus riders and not to Access-A-Ride users. We rely on the MTA to get us around just the same as other mass transit riders, and we shouldn’t be paying more,” says plaintiff Sheila Murray. “The MTA needs to end this discrimination against Access-A-Ride users immediately.”

AAR is the MTA’s paratransit service for people with disabilities who cannot use, or are substantially limited in their ability to use, subways or buses. The MTA is legally required to provide this public transit service, and it must be comparable to subway and bus service. But AAR has long been plagued by unreliable and inflexible service. Nevertheless, AAR riders must pay the full fare of $2.90 for every trip, no matter how many trips they take per month and no matter whether they would qualify for a reduced fare because of their disability or age.

Many AAR users live on a fixed income, which exacerbates the impact of their exclusion from these discount programs. Making these discounts available to AAR riders will significantly improve the financial wellbeing of all AAR users.

“No one should have to pay higher fares just because they have a disability that prevents them from riding the bus or subway,” said Daniel A. Ross, a senior staff attorney at Mobilization for Justice, Inc.  “The MTA can and must stop penalizing New Yorkers for their disabilities.”

“We are delighted to work closely with the top-notch and committed lawyers at NYLPI’s Disability Justice Program and Mobilization for Justice’s Disability and Aging Rights Program to help vindicate the legal rights of New Yorkers with disabilities,” said Jenner & Block Partner Marc B. Hankin

For access to the ruling, click here. To download the press release, click here.

About New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI)

Founded nearly 50 years ago by leaders of the bar, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest is a community-driven civil rights organization that pursues justice for all New Yorkers through litigation, community organizing, policy advocacy, pro bono service, and education. NYLPI works toward a New York where all people can thrive in their communities, with equal access to mass transportation, quality healthcare and housing, safe jobs, good schools, and healthy neighborhoods. NYLPI’s community-driven approach powers its commitment to civil rights and to disability, health, immigrant, and environmental justice, and NYLPI’s Disability Justice Program advocates extensively for transportation equity for New Yorkers with disabilities.

About Mobilization for Justice

Mobilization for Justice envisions a society in which there is equal justice for all. Mobilization for Justice’s mission is to achieve social justice, prioritizing the needs of people who are low-income, disenfranchised or have disabilities. We do this by providing the highest quality direct civil legal assistance, conducting community education and building partnerships, engaging in policy advocacy, and bringing impact litigation.

About Jenner & Block LLP

Jenner & Block LLP is a law firm with global reach, with offices in Century City, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The firm is known for its prominent and successful litigation practice, global investigations practice, regulatory and government controversies work, and experience handling sophisticated and high-profile corporate transactions. Its clients include Fortune 100 companies, technology companies, large privately held corporations, emerging companies, Native American tribes, and venture capital and private equity investors. The American Lawyer has recognized Jenner & Block as the No. 1 pro bono firm in the United States 11 times.

 

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