United Spinal Association Board member Terence J. Moakley testified before the New York City Council Committee on Transportation on Tuesday March, 23rd that proposed Access-A-Ride cuts will have a negative impact on individuals with disabilities living in New York City.
Mr. Moakley further testified the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act requires that paratransit services like Access-A-Ride must be provided in any U.S. community that provides public transportation service.
Mr. Moakley proposed several cost saving changes to the Access-A-Ride program. He stated, "A totally wheelchair-accessible yellow taxi fleet must be developed in our city."
He added, "If we had more accessible taxi and livery vehicles in New York City, they could become the 'workhorses' of Access-A-Ride and reduce demand for A-A-R trips. Further, we believe that accessible taxis and livery vehicles would provide such service for much less than the $66 cost per trip of Access-A-Ride today. Remember, taxis and liveries are the original 'paratransit' vehicles. Transportation agencies in other cities know this, and saving money is why many such agencies integrate taxis into their ADA paratransit service."
Mr. Moakley reminded the Council that the wheelchair-accessible MV-1 taxi, formerly known as the "Standard Taxi," will begin to roll off the assembly line in Indiana in October. Principles of this company The Vehicle Production Group recently unveiled an accessible "livery" version of their vehicle, also available in October.
Another recommendation was that "feeder service" wherein the consumer takes an Access-A-Ride Vehicle for a small portion of a long trip, and then completes the trip on an accessible bus or train should be reconsidered as a cost-reducing method.
Mr. Moakley concluded by recommending that New York City Transit vastly expand its travel training services availability, either in-house or by contract. "Travel training started here in 1960 at the Department of Education. Travel trainers teach persons with disabilities and seniors how to use local public transportation safely and independently. Many transit agencies around the nation have travel trainers at the initial ADA paratransit eligibility screening. If NYCT grows its travel training availability, we believe that this effort can help to reduce A-A-R costs," he said.