Testimony of Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney on Access-a-Ride On-Demand Program

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

Access-A-Ride vehicle in New York

July 27, 2022

I would like to thank the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for allowing me the opportunity to submit testimony regarding the On-Demand pilot program for New York City’s paratransit system, Access-A-Ride (AAR). I strongly support AAR’s On-Demand program and ask that the MTA prioritize expansion of this important project.

The AAR system is used by individuals with disabilities across all five boroughs who are unable to use the fixed route subway and bus service. In May of 2022 alone, AAR accommodated over 340,000 rides. The traditional AAR transportation service is made available at a cost of $2.75 per ride and provides door-to-door service. However, I am told that use of the traditional AAR service comes with its own challenges. Riders must schedule their transportation at least a day in advance, and they are not guaranteed accommodation of their desired pickup or drop-off times. As AAR is a shared ride service, I also understand that riders frequently must go on circuitous routes in order for drivers pick up and drop off other passengers, resulting in extended trips and delays.

Individuals with disabilities do not have the same variety of options as non-disabled individuals for on-demand vehicle transportation. As communicated by disability advocates, the number of wheelchair accessible cabs and for-hire vehicles is limited throughout the five boroughs. According to reporting this spring, less than 40% of yellow cabs and less than 4% of for-hire vehicles in New York City are ADA accessible. Even when accessible for-hire vehicles are available, the cost of such rides can often be prohibitive for New Yorkers with disabilities, many of whom live on low or fixed-income.

AAR’s e-hail, On-Demand pilot program provides a solution to these problems and is vital to creating equitable access to transportation for all New Yorkers. Under this program, individuals with disabilities gain access to flexible travel plans and may spontaneously obtain a ride when needed. Many early users have described this program as “life-changing.” In addition, I understand that estimates have shown the cost to the MTA of On-Demand AAR service to be less than half than that of traditional AAR service.


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