AAR officials recently said that they do not punish people for late cancellations, but they do send out warning letters and temporarily knock people off the service for having repeated no-shows, although their cut-off is way more than the 7 in six months that they say is their cut-off.
While this is good news, AAR's policies should be revised to have a 2-hour late cancellation cut-off and riders should be notified that they will not be punished for late cancellations, which are usually beyond people’s control, anyway. Why should disabled people have to plan our days and weeks with military precision. Who lives like that? No one, and we should not have to, either. AAR's practice of saying one thing in print and actually having a more lax policy creates undue stress on AAR riders who are worried about canceling late if our plans change. The current stated policy is that it is a late cancellation if we cancel after 5 p.m. the day before a scheduled ride. This must be changed and riders must be notified.
AAR Pick-up Sites Listed
A frequently updated list of AAR pick-up sites is on the DIA website at www.disabledinaction.org. Click on the AAR button on the left. (Or go here: www.disabledinaction.org/aar.html)
Taxi Authorizations and Savings
Access-a-Ride officials reported that the AAR strike of half the carriers in the spring of 2004 provided an opportunity to test the practice of using taxicabs as supplementary AAR vehicles. In fact, all ambulatory riders were given taxi authorizations instead of a van pick-up and the vans were used exclusively for people, mostly scooter and wheelchair users, who could not take inaccessible taxicabs. This practice meant that some people could not go where they needed to go because they did not have the funds to lay out in advance, before reimbursement. Some people were spending $400 a week just to go to work by taxi. AAR officials discovered that by authorizing taxis, they were able to order about 20 less vans, and now they authorize taxis more than they used to. Just think of the savings and the convenience if we had a usable amount of wheelchair accessible taxis!
AAR reduces turnaround waiting times in another borough and within the same borough
AAR used to require riders to stay in another borough for up to 2 ˝ hours before a return ride could be scheduled. Now riders can return in one hour. We think turnaround time should be reduced to 15 to 30 minutes to be more like fixed transit.
Free Travel Training
Any customer who is eligible for AAR may apply for free travel training to use buses and subways. For more information, contact Michael Levy at 718-393-4148. This includes how to get on (including practice) a bus with a wheelchair or scooter or walker, etc., as well as which routes to take and general tips, especially if your route is complicated. People with any kind of disability can take travel training.
Continuing Full Eligibility
Since September 2004, applicants undergoing certification and customers being recertified for paratransit service have been considered for a new status – continuing full eligibility. Applicants or customers given this status will not need to be recertified every three years. Instead, customers need only complete a one-page form updating their information.
Continuing full eligibility will be considered for persons who cannot use regular transit bus or subway service under any condition, whose disability is unlikely to improve and/or whose disability is of such severity that successful travel training would be unlikely.
Applicants must participate in an in-person assessment at an assessment center located in their borough and may be required to provide medical documentation that his or her disability is unlikely to improve.
AAR Pick-up Window Changed
AAR changed the window for waiting for AAR to be the exact pick-up time to 30 minutes later. This change has resulted in less confusion and fewer no-shows on the point of the carriers and the customers since everyone knows when the passenger has to be at the pick-up location and when the van can leave (5 minutes after the pick-up time). However, some dishonest dispatchers and drivers lie and say that they were there when they were not or they drive by without stopping. If this happens to you, be sure to call your complaint in to 718-330-3322 and to write a complaint to Paratransit, 2 Broadway, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10004.
AAR Will Move to Long Island City
Access-a-Ride is planning to move to new offices in Long Island City on July 25, 2005. Their toll-free number will remain the same: 877-337-2017. Local number: 718-393-4999. TTY for reservations – 718-393-4149. Their address will be: Access-a-Ride/Paratransit, 33-00 Northern Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11101.
AAR Committee Is Brought Late to Meetings
It is interesting, sad, and a reflection of the problems with lateness that AAR has, especially in the afternoons, that frequently AAR cannot get paratransit advisory committee members to meetings on time. Members have been brought to the meetings from 15 minutes to 90 minutes late. At a recent meeting, three members were 90 minutes late to a two-hour-long meeting. The MTA seems helpless to control whatever the carriers do. Why?