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On The Move - Access-A-Ride

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Introducing the New (AAR) MetroCard®

In the first quarter of 2013, the MTA is introducing a new Access-A-Ride MetroCard exclusively for Paratransit customers. This new AAR MetroCard affords Paratransit customers the opportunity and flexibility to take up to four FREE trips a day using Staten Island Railway, subways and local buses.

This new program does not affect your current Paratransit eligibility status, but does offer you the opportunity to consider travel on public transportation for free, as many as four free rides daily.

Paratransit customers will receive a new AAR MetroCard issued by NYC Transit, which will now serve as both your Paratransit identification card for use when riding Access-A-Ride as well as a MetroCard so that you may opt to use mass transit. Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) continue to travel with you free no matter which way you decide to travel.

Important information about the new AAR MetroCard Program

  • The new AAR MetroCard program will be rolled out to 170,000 customers over 18 months beginning in the first quarter of 2013.

  • Your new AAR MetroCard also serves as your identification when you ride with paratransit. Please show the driver your card when you board and pay the regular AAR fare.

  • Your new AAR MetroCard cannot be used to pay for paratransit vehicle trips or voucher trips. The fare for paratransit vehicle trips remains the same as the full fare on public transit.

  • Your new AAR MetroCard works in the subway, on local buses and the Staten Island Railway (SIR), for up to four daily trips for you and an accompanying PCA, and offers a free transfer between subway/SIR and local buses.

  • NYC Transit will reissue lost cards at its discretion after payment of a $10.00 replacement fee.

Reduce obstacles and increase benefits with public transit

With your new AAR MetroCard, the new flexibility of being able to take public transit gives you the opportunity to examine some obstacles you may face in using mass transit and how you may be able to increase your subway and bus travel to save time and money.

For example:

  • If you are currently unable to “navigate the system” because of a cognitive or visual   disability, or request  AAR for any trip to or from an unfamiliar destination, you may be able to eliminate this barrier if you have  approval to travel with a personal care attendant (PCA).

    Since you and your PCA can travel free on SIR, subways or local bus route, you save $2.25 per trip; what’s more, unlike a scheduled AAR trip, you can leave earlier or come back later and may reach your destination more quickly via mass transit.

  • If you are unable to travel at night because of a visual impairment, you may consider going to work bySIR,  subway or local bus in the morning and returning with AAR when it’s dark.

Facts about using the bus if you have a disability

  • If you have a condition or problem that makes it impossible for you to climb the bus steps, even with the bus kneeler, you may ask the bus operator to activate the wheelchair lift or lower a front-entrance ramp.

    If you  would like to learn to travel by bus and subway, apply for Paratransit’s free travel training program.


Winter 2013


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AAR’s Use of Taxi and Car Service

By Thomas J. Charles, Vice President, Paratransit Division

During the past ten years, AAR has gradually increased the number of taxi and car service trips authorized for some customers. Some of these customers continue to demand exclusive use of car service and taxi for all paratransit trips. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and recent legal decisions do not support their demands.

The ADA requires that we provide transportation for eligible customers. In addition, it specifies that we provide accessible vehicles for those who travel only in such vehicles. The ADA does NOT require AAR to authorize a taxi or car service trip whenever a customer requests it. 

Besides the ADA, two other factors affect how we increase authorizations for taxi and car service trips:

Guarding Against Fraud

When AAR offered taxi trips initially, some customers submitted receipts for trips they never took. To prevent theft and abuse, we limit the number of authorizations that a customer can be issued. Customers whose requests exceed this limitation are placed on AAR carrier service for a period of time. The number of limited taxi authorizations is subject to change to disrupt patterns that can lead to fraudulent activities.

Maintaining Quality of Trips Provided by Taxi and Car Service Companies

Unfortunately, some taxi and car services with whom we contracted did not meet our standards of performance. This poor performance interfered with our efforts to increase taxi and car service trip authorizations.

We have established a team of Transit personnel who, without the knowledge of taxi and car service providers, take trips to check the quality of the service they deliver. These “covert observers” report to the contract manager. If necessary, a contract manager will advise taxi or car service providers to improve service delivery or face the issuance of fewer voucher authorizations or termination of their contracts with NYC Transit.

At present, AAR schedules approximately 30 percent of daily AAR trips for taxi or car service. We will continue to offer some taxi and car service trips to customers based on the requirements and limitations explained above.


Winter 2013

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When will my Vehicle Arrive?
Automatic Vehicle Location Monitoring (AVLM) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) find the answer

By Bobby Samuel, P.E., Director of AVLM & IVR projects, Division of Paratransit

Now that all AAR vehicles are equipped with the Automatic Vehicle Location
Monitoring (AVLM) system, we are introducing new technology — the Interactive Voice
Response (IVR) system. IVR will alert you of the impending arrival of your vehicle, via
telephone, text message, or email. This real-time, automated information system uses
AVLM to provide a more accurate estimation of the time of arrival (ETA) for your
pickup. These alerts will give you approximately 15 minutes to prepare and reach your
pickup location at your scheduled pickup time.

To show you how the technologies work, join me on an imaginary AAR trip. You have a
10 a.m. pickup in Brooklyn for an AAR trip to Manhattan. Your driver will use the trip
information on the AVLM terminal to navigate to your pickup location.

As the vehicle approaches your pickup location, around 9:45 a.m., IVR will notify you,
based on your preference, via telephone, text message or email that your vehicle will
arrive shortly.

Notification examples:

Sample Telephone Call
“Hello. This is AAR. We are calling with a trip update message for customer number 123456.
Maggies vehicle number 1234 is about to arrive to pick you up. See you soon. Goodbye.”

Sample Text Message:
“Maggies vehicle 1234 is about to arrive.”

Sample E-mail Message:
AAR Alert: Maggies vehicle 1234 is about to arrive for your trip. Please be ready to
meet the vehicle.”

Other IVR Features

The IVR system will also notify you of service disruptions or holiday subscription
announcements, and gives you the option of keeping your regular subscription, even if
your scheduled pickup falls on a holiday. Customers will also receive notifications
alerting them about upcoming customer eligibility expiration dates and assessment
appointment dates. All these features should be available to you some time in 2013.
Look for updates in upcoming newsletters.

We were pleased when our AVLM system first allowed us to provide the location of your
vehicle. Now with IVR, we will also have the ability to alert you when your vehicle is
expected to arrive.

Monitoring (AVLM) system
All AAR vehicles are equipped with the Automatic Vehicle Location Monitoring (AVLM) system.


Winter 2013

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Free Travel Training Available

An AAR customer learns to use the bus.
An AAR customer learns to use the bus.

NYC Transit has made a complete commitment to New Yorkers with disabilities who want to use buses or the subway. With some training, many AAR customers who have mobility or cognitive impairments may be able to ride the bus or subway to work, school, health and recreation facilities, and the many cultural institutions for which New York is famous.

Transit currently sponsors travel training for qualified AAR customers. Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS) conducts the training under contract with NYC Transit. The instruction is individualized, one-to-one between the trainer and the individual. However, only a limited number of customers can receive training.

Trainees master the following skills:

  • Planning a trip: use of schedules, signs, telephone, information services, and landmarks.
  • Remembering and following directions.
  • Traveling safely at all times.
  • Identifying the correct bus stop, bus, subway station, or subway.
  • Coping with service disruptions, delays, and emergencies.
  • Correctly using mobility aids, such as crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters in the subway environment and on the bus.
  • Requesting information/help from appropriate sources.

A training candidate should be motivated and medically stable, and should use the bus/subway often enough to maintain newly learned travel skills. Training is well underway, but do not wait to apply! Call 212-947-5770, extension 627, and leave a message. A member of CP of NYS’ travel training staff will contact you.


Winter 2013

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Please Keep Your Records Up-To-Date!

Call the Eligibility Unit at 1-877-337-2017; press 1 for English, and then press 1 again to speak with staff to update your records with your current home phone and/or cell phone number; email address, and name of your cell phone provider (e.g. AT&T; Verizon; Sprint, T-Mobile) for text messaging.

Holidays When Subscription Service is Automatically Cancelled

If you are traveling on 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.



Winter 2013

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s Your Organization Interested in a Presentation About AAR Service?

If your organization has 15 or more people who want to learn more about AAR service, please call 718-393-4147 or 718-393-4130 to arrange a presentation.

How to Get More Information About AAR

Visit the AAR web page at by clicking on the Accessibility tab on the top, then clicking on the Access-A-Ride link in the box on the left side of the screen. You will be able to access NYC Transit’s Guide to Access-A-Ride Service as well as AAR policies and archived newsletters. You can also access information about accessible travel and other paratransit services on the MTA Accessibility page by choosing another option from the menu, including different paratransit services in the MTA area.


Winter 2013

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NYC Transit Customer Services
To request AAR publications, to offer suggestions, make commendations, submit comments about On The Move, or register AAR complaints, please dial 511. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 service relay to reach 511. You can write to us at Paratransit Division, 130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 or contact us online at by clicking on FAQs/Contact Us.

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Available 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
On The Move (Customers who are blind or visually impaired may call 718-393-4133 for
On The Move in Braille or on cassette.)

Subway Map for Customers with Disabilities - call 511 for copies

Winter 2013

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Access-A-Ride Telephone Directory

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. You will know you are connected to Access-A-Ride’s (AAR) telephone system when you hear: “Thank you for calling AAR. Please listen to the following important message. If you do not wish to listen to the message, please press 1.” Then you will hear, “You have reached AAR.” Conversations with AAR personnel are recorded and may be monitored. After selecting 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, choose from the menu below:

For eligibility, appeals, certification or application questions, please press 1.
To request a trip, please press 2.
To change a trip, please press 3.
To cancel a future trip, please press 4.
For same day trip information, please press 5.
For subscription service, please press 6.
To repeat this announcement, please press 0.

Hold for assistance if you do not have a touch-tone phone.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 service relay.

Your questions and comments about On The Move are welcome.

Please send them to: On The Move
MTA NYC Transit
Department of Buses
Paratransit Division
130 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Winter 2013

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