Eman Rimawi Addresses MTA Board Meeting on Access-A-Ride Fare Hike

February 17, 2021

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

Access-A-Ride vehicle in New York

The MTA Board should bump up community comments and ensure they are part of the Board’s live feed, according to NYLPI’s Eman Rimawi, Access-A-Ride Coordinator and Organizer. Rimawi pressed the point in her testimony during their February MTA board meeting, where she also addressed Access-A-Ride taking fares during the COVID-19 pandemic and a proposed fare hike. Rimawi emphasized that, at the beginning of the pandemic, the MTA “immediately recognized the enormous safety concerns which fare collection presents for both the customers and the drivers. Those safety concerns are just as critical now as they were a year ago, given New York’s high COVID numbers, and the MTA must protect the only group of riders who are forced to have direct contact with drivers just to pay their fare.”

The board meeting took place on February 18th, 2021 at 10 A.M. EST. Watch the recording of the livestream using this link.

Read Eman’s full testimony below.

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 President Feinberg knows, the disability community is very upset that the MTA has again started charging fares on Access-A-Ride. We were very grateful that, at the beginning of the pandemic, you immediately recognized the enormous safety concerns which fare collection presents for both the customers and the drivers. Those safety concerns are just as critical now as they were a year ago, given New York’s high COVID numbers, and the MTA must protect the only group of riders who are forced to have direct contact with drivers just to pay their fare.

We also oppose a fare hike since it will have a horrible effect on people with disabilities. I remember what it was like to live on a fixed, measly Social Security income, and how I had to budget myself, with emergencies often popping up. Oftentimes, I couldn’t even afford to take AAR because I ran out of money. Adding even 25 cents to the fare will make it extremely difficult for people, and you may see a drop in ridership, especially during COVID.  

Finally, as you know, AARRG! has been attending MTA board meetings to improve Access-A-Ride service since our start in 2016.  While we appreciate that meetings are still being held during COVID-19, and that public comments are still being received, we noticed that elected officials are frequently pushed to the front of the line, while community members are pushed to the back.  Oftentimes, this means that public comments only commence after the 30-minute mark, and then they are not part of the live feed that appears to the MTA.  We ask that you put the community of riders first and then move onto elected officials.  Alternatively, we ask that you extend the 30-minute period for public comment, to allow all who have registered, the opportunity to air their questions during the live feed.

Thank you for your time.

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