NYLPI to MTA Board Members: Don’t Ration On-Demand Access-a-Ride Services

March 25, 2021

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

Access-A-Ride vehicle in New York

Eman Rimawi, Access-A-Ride Coordinator and Organizer, advocated during a recent MTA Board Meeting to protect On-Demand services for Access-A-Ride users in New York CityIn her statement, Rimawi stressed the important role of On-Demand services in granting her and other Access-A-Ride users greater freedom and ensuring they have a reliable means of transportation.

Read Rimawi’s full statement below. Watch the recording of her testimony here at timestamp 31:14.

 

Dear MTA board members:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. My name is Eman Rimawi, and I am the Access-A-Ride Coordinator and Organizer in the Disability Justice Program of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), and NYLPI is one of the founding members of the Access-A-Ride Reform Group (AARRG!).

As the Board and MTA officials know, the disability community has been very upset that the MTA has still been talking about rationing rides with On-Demand! On-demand has given me and other AAR users the freedom to live our lives, just like everyone else. It also ensured that I was not late or never showed up for every function I attended, which happened with traditional AAR.

Now that the MTA is receiving billions in stimulus funding from the federal government, we feel that it is vital to make sure that On-Demand does not see rationing put in place. If you do limit On-Demand services by rationing them, people like me, who used Access-A-Ride daily before Covid, may lose our jobs because we will have to mostly rely on traditional Access-A-Ride, which is nowhere near as reliable as On-Demand.

It’s also vitally important that shared rides be eliminated until Covid is 100% gone. It’s not safe for people with compromised immune systems, like me, and it’s not safe for the drivers, who may be asymptomatic. We need to think of everyone’s safety and implementing shared rides during a dangerous pandemic simply is not safe! I have lost 30 friends since last March and I’m not trying to be added to the list of COVID deaths because of AAR!

In the same theme of safety and cost savings, assessment centers should be done away with completely. During Covid, and even in the not-so-distant past, you didn’t have assessment centers, and many other paratransit services in NY state don’t have them either. What you did and what those other paratransit services do is simply get the documents from our doctors and take it from there. Fraud has been brought up multiple times, but no proof of fraud has been shown. Claiming that people are lying about having a disability is discriminatory. I’ve been accused of that multiple times, even as an amputee with lupus!

We simply want to be treated equally and fairly, and not like second class citizens!

NYLPI joins other disability justice advocates to also urge you to settle — with all due speed — the existing subway access lawsuits, and not to use any funds designated for disability access for any other purpose.

Thank you,

Eman Rimawi

On behalf of AARRG!

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