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Queens Chronicle

Seniors: We can’t access Access-A-Ride

Complaints of long waits, crowded cars and unreachable dispatchers

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:29 am, Thu Apr 17, 2014.

Members of Community Board 2 say they’ve been unimpressed by Access-A-Ride’s service. Many recount “horror stories” and condemn the “systemic problems” with the service for senior citizens.

In response, Kenny Stewart, a representative for Access-A-Ride, came to the board’s meeting to address their concerns on April 3.

“Last month the crescendo of complaints started,” CB 2 Chairman Joe Conley said. “We will work as a partnership with the community. We want to fix these things; it’s your tax money.”

Some complained of long waits, being jammed into cars, unnecessarily long routes being unable to reach the dispatcher.

One board member even missed last month’s meeting because Access-A-Ride canceled her trip and she never heard why.

“People are told to wait outside sometimes in the cold for way over an hour,” a board member said.

Another board member said she had a 3:13 pickup to take her to her 4:15 appointment, but she was not picked up until 4:30.

“Senior citizens in the twilight of life should not have to deal with this stress,” one attendee said.

Another problem a lot of people raised was having to book both the outgoing and returning trips at the same time, which doesn’t work for people with indefinite wait times at doctor’s appointments, which can range from one to four hours.

Many also complained about bookers who were rude and insensitive to people with disabilities.

Access-A-Ride will take people to destinations three-quarters of a mile outside the city, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Stewart noted that some doctors’ offices in Nassau fall just outside that distance.

Stewart encouraged using Access-A-Ride to the airport, but there are no preset routes to Penn Station, Grand Central Station or the Port Authority in Manhattan because interborough rides are more expensive.

“Complaints have to be addressed,” Stewart said. Access-A-Ride maintains a database in which complaints turn colors if they are not addressed in a timely manner. Access-A-Ride can also investigate complaints from over a year ago.

Stewart reminded the board that anyone can call the 24-hour command center to find out exactly where their ride is and noted that Access-A-Ride will reimburse people who take car service because their scheduled ride did not show up.

Stewart said the most efficient way to reach Access-A-Ride is to visit mta.info or call (877) 337-2017.

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