NYLPI Continues Push to extend ‘Fair Fares’ Program to People with DisabilitiesJanuary 28, 2020
Among those who still hope to be included in Fair Fares are users of Access-a-Ride, the MTA-operated car service for New Yorkers with disabilities that make it hard or impossible for them to take the subway or bus. Those who use the program—which has been widely criticized for being inefficient and unreliable—pay $2.75 per trip on the service, the same as a full-fare public transit ride.
“For many people with disabilities, and senior citizens who are unable to use the subway and buses, Access-a-Ride is the only option,” says Christopher Schuyler, a senior staff attorney in the Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, one of several advocacy groups pushing for Access-a-Ride reforms.
Advocates point out that only about a quarter of the MTA’s subway stations are equipped with elevators, meaning a majority of the system is inaccessible for riders with mobility issues. Even city buses, which are wheelchair accessible, pose their own hurdles.
If the program were extended to cover it, many Access-a-Ride users could potentially benefit from Fair Fares: 34 percent of working-age people with disabilities in New York City live at or below the poverty level, according to a 2019 state comptroller report, meeting the eligibility threshold for Fair Fares.
“Poverty and unemployment are disportionately high among people with disabilities,” Schuyler says. “Reliable and affordable transportation is essential when it comes to maintaining employment, accessing healthcare, just engaging in social events.”
A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office says the city is looking into the possibility of extending Fair Fares to eligible Access-a-Ride customers.
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