The City: MTA Brings Back Virtual Testimony for Board Meetings — With a Catch

September 14, 2021

Access-A-Ride, Access-a-Ride Reform Group, Disability Justice, MTA, News, Transportation

Disability access sign at subway station

Following the MTA’s decision to return to in-person testimony back in July, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation requiring all “government entity” public meetings to require virtual access through January 2022.

As the pandemic affects people with disabilities in greater numbers, right to equal access is a matter of survival. In the best of circumstances, virtual options have proven to be essential tools for people with disabilities who wish to have their voices heard. With a rise in COVID Delta cases, public turnout for meetings has been concerningly low.

According to THE CITY, without virtual access throughout the summer, “only two paratransit customers testified at those meetings during which MTA board members discussed $665 million in contracts for companies that provide service for Access-A-Ride customers.” NYLPI’s Eman Rimawi was one of the two sole members of the disability rights community who were testified in-person.

Virtual access to MTA public meetings is a big win for accessibility, but activists are concerned that restrictive process requirements for virtual testimony block true equal access.

“It is baffling to me that the MTA hasn’t figured out a way to have real-time testimony,” said Joseph Rappaport, executive director of Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, an advocacy organization. “Two days can really alter what’s going on in the subway system, on the buses or Access-A-Ride.”

Read the full piece here.

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