New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is being sued for not providing customers of its Access-A-Ride paratransit service the same half-priced fares that are available to elderly or disabled riders on the city’s subway and buses.
The class action lawsuit was filed in the state Supreme Court last week by five plaintiffs on behalf of the 160,000 users of the programme, and claims the transit agency is violating New York City’s human rights law.
The plaintiffs also contend that disabled Access-a-Ride users are being shut out of unlimited seven- and 30-day fare options.
“It’s not fair that the MTA offers these discounts to subway and bus riders and not to Access-A-Ride users,” said plaintiff Sheila Murray.
“We rely on the MTA to get us around just the same as other mass transit riders, and we shouldn’t be paying more.
“The MTA needs to end this discrimination against Access-A-Ride users immediately.”
Law firm Jenner & Block is representing the plaintiffs and if successful, the lawsuit could result in the MTA having to pay out several million dollars in retroactive discounts.
Access-A-Ride users currently pay the full fare of US$2.75 for every trip, regardless of the number of trips they take per month or whether they would qualify for a reduced fare because of their disability or age.
The MTA declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Denver expands paratransit ticketing
In Colorado, Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD Denver) has announced that tickets for its Access-a-Ride paratransit service are now available through the RTD mobile ticket app, as well as on the Uber, Lyft and Transit apps.
Prior to its launch, tickets for the shared-ride service – which is intended for those who cannot use regular fixed-route bus/light rail service due to a disability – could only be paid in cash, at RTD Denver sales outlets, selected convenience stores, or online.
“This is about equity,” said Paul Hamilton, RTD Denver’s Senior Manager of Paratransit Services. “Mobile ticketing gives customers one more option, it brings them into the 21st century and it ensures that they are treated the same way we would treat any of our customers.”
RTD has more than 14,700 active Access-a-Ride customers, with 1,000 signing up to the service within the last year.
As of the fourth quarter of 2021, reflecting the most recent data available, an average of 39,179 Access-a-Ride trips were taken each month during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frequent travel destinations include medical offices, dialysis centres, day programmes and workplaces.
The service also debuted a grocery delivery and pickup in March 2020.
Image: Chris Sampson (Flickr)
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