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On The Move - Access-A-Ride
Fall 2010 All the news on Access-A-Ride Volume 9

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What Paratransit and ADA Mean to You

TheAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established Paratransit (Access-A-Ride or AAR in New York City) as a supplement to accessible bus and subway service. ADA regulations define levels of service such as origin-to-destination service, and paratransit feeder service to/from an accessible bus or subway route. Conditional Eligibility, as defined by ADA, is also known as trip-by-trip eligibility. It is established for some, but not all trips, because registrants' ability to use bus or subway fixed-route service may change with differing circumstances.

Customers who have distance eligibility have been determined to be able to travel between a minimum of one block and a maximum five-blocks-distance from their starting point to a bus stop or subway station. Customers with this eligibility status who call for a trip that is within this range – to and from their destination -- receive an itinerary for the trip via bus. For example, a customer with distance eligibility wants to travel to Lincoln Center. Her home is one block from the M104 bus, which stops directly in front of Lincoln Center. She would not be eligible for AAR for this trip. If she requested a different trip, one with a destination farther than the distance she can travel, she would receive the trip on AAR.

MTA New York City Transit, following the ADA's intent, is moving toward a transportation system where customers with Conditional Eligibility will use Access-A-Ride in combination with buses and subways, when possible.

In this issue of On The Move, we explain paratransit eligibility criteria as they apply to customers who use AAR, buses and subways.

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Understanding Paratransit (AAR) Eligibility

The three categories of eligibility:
1) Individuals who cannot use accessible buses or subways without assistance. For example, visually or cognitively impaired customers who cannot “navigate the system” are in this category.

2) Conditional Interborough (as used in New York City) This includes customers who can use buses within their own borough, but who need AAR to travel outside their borough.

3) People who can use bus and subway fixed-route service, but who face physical or environmental barriers that prevent their traveling to or from bus stops and subway stations.

Architectural and environmental barriers that may prevent travel include:
• A lack of curb-cuts
• The distance from the stop/station to the trip origin or destination
• Steep terrain
• Snow and/or ice
• Extremes in temperature (hot or cold)
• Major intersections or other difficulties negotiating architectural barriers.

Each eligibility decision is individual. Depending on the specifics of an impairment–related condition, one individual may be able to get from his home to a bus stop under a given set of conditions, while his next-door neighbor may not.

Examples of people eligible under category 3:

• A person who is blind but cannot reach a bus or subway stop because s/he cannot cross a major intersection.
• Someone who cannot reach a bus or subway stop on days when high humidity aggravates her/his multiple sclerosis or other disability.
• An individual with a mobility impairment who cannot reach a bus stop or subway station because the terrain is too steep to negotiate with a wheelchair, walker or power chair.
• A person who cannot reach a bus stop or subway station because a cognitive impairment makes it impossible to remember and follow directions.
• A frail person who is unable to walk to the nearest bus stop or subway station.

Some individuals are eligible for AAR on a "trip-by-trip" basis.
They are able to make certain trips on buses or subways but not others. Here are examples:

• Someone whose impairment-related condition is severe sensitivity to temperatures below 40 degrees, but who can use fixed-route transit when the temperature is 75 degrees.
• A person with an ambulatory disability who cannot reach a bus stop or subway station on snowy/icy days, but who can travel when there isn’t snow or ice on the ground.
• Someone with a cognitive disability who is unable to navigate on public transit for most trips, but who has been travel trained to use a particular bus route to get to a supported employment job.

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Feeder Service

“Feeder service” refers to customers who use both paratransit, and the bus or subway during the same trip. For example, paratransit provides transportation to a bus stop or subway station, and the customer travels the remainder of the trip on bus or subway. A customer might also begin a trip by bus or subway, and then
transfer to an AAR vehicle to complete the trip. In these instances, customers would not pay two fares.

AAR has begun to phase-in feeder service and trip-by-trip service slowly and deliberately to ensure safe and successful trips for our customers.

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MTA New York City Transit Travel Training Program Access-A-Ride

Free to Qualified Access-A-Ride Customers

Travel training can enable many people with disabilities to travel safely and confidently by bus or subway in New York City.

Through personalized one-on-one instruction, trainees learn to travel independently on one bus or subway route in New York City. They have travel options in addition to AAR, and they have more freedom, since they don’t need reservations to use the subway or bus and can change travel plans at any time.

Trainees master the following skills:
• Traveling safely at all times
• Planning a trip (use of schedules, signs, telephone, information services and landmarks)
• Remembering and following directions
• Requesting information/help from appropriate sources, (e.g., if the trainee is lost)
• Identifying the correct destination stop
• Coping with planned service changes, delays and emergencies
• Using mobility aids (e.g., wheelchairs and scooters) correctly on accessible public transportation

AAR customers who are at least 18 years old may apply for travel training. For more information, call:

Michael Levy, Director, Travel Training
MTA New York City Transit 718-393-4148

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Paratransit Service

Via AAR Lift-Equipped Van or Sedan, or  Independent Taxi, Livery, or Black Car Voucher Service

In our 17 years of operation, the Paratransit Division has found that many of our customers are ambulatory and can travel by taxi/car service.  We have incorporated the use of private taxis, livery and black car services to meet the demand for service.

How it Works -- When a customer who is ambulatory calls to reserve a trip, we first enter all trip information before offering a type of transportation. A deciding factor is the individual’s conditional eligibility status. If our scheduling system determines that a MTA New York City Transit bus can accommodate the customer’s trip request, the customer will be given a trip itinerary. If the customer is eligible for the requested trip by taxi, livery, black car service, or AAR service, we will authorize or provide it.

Customers who accept taxi/car service authorizations must be able to pay for the taxi/car service chosen and must later request reimbursement for it.  Reimbursement instructions are on page 16 of the Guide to Access-A-Ride Service, and on our web page,


AAR also offers vouchers for black car/livery service. A voucher pilot program, which began in April 2001, offered applicants trips to and from assessment centers in Manhattan and the Bronx.  In April 2002, the voucher program expanded to include all assessment centers and subscription trips, and added advance reservation trips in May 2003.

NYC Transit contracts with 17 black car services that transport customers for the same fare paid on an AAR vehicle. This is our voucher program. Customers who accept vouchers receive telephone numbers for two black car service companies, and must be able to make travel arrangements with either company. Although it happens infrequently, if neither company can accommodate a trip, customers must call Transit Control to arrange a trip on an AAR vehicle. In case of a same-day problem with a black car service, customers must call Transit Control, which will arrange to transport them.

During the last 10 years, car service/livery drivers have demonstrated a high level of customer service, and the use of these vehicles is extremely popular.  The number of these trips will increase in the next year.

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Important Information for Subscription Customers

Subscription trips are automatically cancelled on the following holidays. If you will be traveling on any of these holidays, you MUST call to reserve a trip: 

New Year's Eve Day; New Year's Day; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Presidents'Day; Good Friday; Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; Columbus Day; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving Day; Day after Thanksgiving; Christmas Eve Day; Christmas Day.

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Paratransit Advisory Committee (PAC) Meeting Highlights

This article summarizes reports and discussions at bi-monthly PAC meetings from
May 19, 2009 through May 25, 2010.

• The number of vehicles and customers continues to increase.
• Customer late cancellations and no-shows continue to decline.
• Authorizations to customers to use taxis/car services for their trips have increased.
• AAR continues to address PAC concerns about trip routes; scheduling; driver behavior; passenger securement; effective communication between customers and Reservationists; effective communication between Transit Control, carriers and drivers, and implementation of the Interactive Voice Response system.
• PAC members participated in training carrier staff about customer sensitivity.
• PAC members received updates about eligibility and feeder service.

To get information about serving on the PAC, share suggestions, or ask about AAR policy, please contact Stephanie L. White, chair, c/o Denise Ann McQuade, 130 Livingston Str

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Tips from AAR Staff

Reservations — To speed the reservation process and reduce errors, call the Eligibility Unit at 877-337-2017 when you move; if you change your telephone or cell numbers; if you have obtained or changed an e-mail address, or when you have equipment changes.

Cell phones We advise customers to have access to cell phones. A cell phone enables customers to make and receive calls at their pick-up location and avoid missed trips. If you have a cell phone, keep it charged, and keep it with you.

ID and payment on AAR — Remember to show your AAR ID and pay your fare as you board the vehicle. Drivers are instructed to check IDs and collect fares during the boarding process.

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A Trip's Maximum Ride Time is Based on Trip Distance - See Chart

Miles Maximum Ride Time
0 to 3 miles 50 minutes
3 to 6 miles 1 hour 5 minutes
6 to 9 miles 1 hour 35 minutes
9 to 12 miles 1 hour 55 minutes
12 to 14 miles 2 hours 15 minutes
Greater than 14 miles 2 hours 35 minutes
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Designated Pick-up Location

Currently, there are 116 AAR Designated Pick-up Locations throughout the five boroughs. Centrally located at large, active venues such as hospitals, ballparks and transportation hubs, these stops have AAR identification signs to ensure a successful connection.



Need More Information About AAR?

Visit the MTA website at for the most updated AAR information. Click on the “Accessibility” tab at the top of the homepage, then click on Paratransit Services, scroll down, and click on Access-A-Ride, New York City Transit, Paratransit Division.

If your organization has 15 or more people interested in learning more about AAR service, please call
at 718-393-4130, or Donna Fredericksen at 718-393-4147 to arrange a presentation.

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Request These Publications

NYC Transit Customer Services
2 Broadway, 11th Floor, Room D11.03
New York, NY 10004
Phone: 718-330-1234, press Menu Option “4”; then press “0” to speak to a representative for any of the following publications:

• How to Apply or Recertify for Access-A-Ride Paratransit Service
• Guide to Access-A-Ride Service
• Drivers and Customers Can Make Everyone’s Ride Better
• Telephone Directory for Customers with Disabilities
• Access-A-Ride Quick-and-Easy Phone Tips
• On The Move (additional copies)
• Subway Map for Customers with Disabilities

Request On The Move in Braille or on cassette by calling Michael Levy at 718-393-4148, or you may download it at (the MTA website).

Click on the “Accessibility” tab at the top of the homepage, then click on Paratransit Services, scroll down, and click on Access-A-Ride, New York City Transit, Paratransit Division.

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Miscellaneous Information

Your questions and comments are welcome.
Please send them to:

On The Move - Access-A-Ride

On The Move
MTA NYC Transit
Department of Buses
Paratransit Division
130 Livingston Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11201


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Quick-and-Easy Phone Tips

Call 877-337-2017 toll-free from area codes 212, 718, 347, 516, 631, 646, 914, and 845. From other area codes, dial 718-393-4999. Customers who are deaf can call through the relay.

Press 1 for English, or press 2 for Spanish, then:

Press 1: Customer Information/Eligibility/application
Press 2: Reservations
Press 3: Change reservation
Press 4: Cancel reservation by 5 p.m. the day before your trip
Press 5: Cancel same-day trip three hours before scheduled pick-up or for help with same-day problems
Press 6: Subscription Service

Fall 2010

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