In a letter dated October 31, 2013 to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz called on the MTA to reconsider the newly instituted policy change that will end reimbursement for eligible riders who utilize taxi or car services for intra-borough transit. The move continues the practice of slashing the Access-A-Ride budget, hurting many disabled seniors by making their travel more arduous. A copy of the official letter to Chairman Prendergast is attached, and the text of the letter can be found below:
Dear Chairman Prendergast:
It has recently been brought to my attention by several constituents that there has been a policy change that will affect Access-A-Ride service throughout the city for those who take advantage of the taxi/car service authorization and reimbursement. It appears that Access-A-Ride will no longer reimburse cab users for intra-borough rides, but will continue to honor reimbursements for inter-borough cab rides for authorized riders. I believe this is a change that will have a tangible and lasting negative impact on many senior citizens throughout the city.
I understand that Access-A-Ride will continue to service eligible seniors with their regular paratransit fleet, although recent cuts to that program have already made travel a major chore for many seniors. But it’s also worth noting that there are inherent advantages for seniors to the taxi reimbursement service, including a less ridged travel schedule and no threat of losing service if their appointments run late and they miss pick-up. It’s interesting to me that a senior can lose Access-A-Ride membership for being late a couple of times, yet Access-A-Ride is constantly late to their scheduled pick-ups, sometimes missing the mark by hours, in many cases leaving seniors stranded outside. In those situations, seniors who are stranded have little recourse, and this new policy change will only make that situation worse for them.
Cuts to Access-A-Ride services have become the norm in New York City. The program, which helps thousands of disabled seniors attend crucial doctor’s appointments and maintain normal lives, has proven to be an invaluable resource for so many, and yet it always seems to be this most vulnerable population that bears the brunt of budget cuts. Ending taxi reimbursement for intra-borough cab rides is no exception. Considering intra-borough rides would theoretically be shorter and thus cost less than inter-borough rides, on its face this plan seems to not only make lives difficult for disabled seniors, it also doesn’t seem to make as much economic sense as it otherwise could. Regardless of the economic impact, maintaining this service for certain seniors is the right thing to do, and I think we owe it to them to reconsider this change.