The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority Access-a-Ride service provides ambulette services for people throughout all of the boroughs, taking them to and from nonurgent medical appointments. The majority of people who use Access-a-Ride are differently-abled, such as needing to use a wheelchair, walker, etc. Despite this commonality among their client base, people are complaining that Access-a-Ride facilities are not disability-friendly and potentially unsafe for visitors.
According to a recent report from The City – you can view the full report by clicking here – none of the MTA Access-a-Ride centers throughout New York City have automatic doors, which means visitors need to pull and hold open heavy manual doors. Given that many visitors are differently-abled or elders with lessened strength capabilities, the doors alone present a significant problem. Some centers also have unusually designed and sloped wheelchair access ramps, making it a challenge for people in wheelchairs to get to the facility.
The City also reported that waiting rooms in the facilities were also equipped with nothing but metal folding chairs. People with back, neck, or spine issues can suffer complications if seated on such a nonergonomic chair for an extended period of time.
To make matters worse, simply getting to an Access-a-Ride facility is a challenge. A 2016 comptroller report determined than more than 30,000 people had hailed an Access-a-Ride service in 2015 but never got picked up. In other words, more than 75 people a day were stranded by one of their ambulettes.
Can People Forego a Facility Visit?
Unfortunately for most people, a visit to an Access-a-Ride facility is necessary to be approved for the state-ran ambulette service. Approval only lasts five years, too, meaning approved program participants will have to visit at least that often.
Upon arriving at an Access-a-Ride center, visitors are required to attempt to enter a simulated bus. They must walk a short distance, climb up a set of steps, and try to hold onto vertical and horizontal railings, just as if they were entering and riding a bus in the public transit system. The unusual process is meant to determine if a program applicant should be approved or denied, but it mostly just puts differently-abled people in unneeded danger. The assessment process is typically unaided, just as it would be on a real bus, which creates a trip and fall risk. Even coming with a doctor’s note does not allow a visitor to be preapproved without the need for the assessment.
Have you been hurt while using an Access-a-Ride service, trying to enter or exit an Access-a-Ride ambulette, or while visiting an Access-a-Ride facility? Call (718) 690-3132 to connect with Koenigsberg & Associates Law Offices. Our law firm is located in Brooklyn but accepts Access-a-Ride claims from all boroughs of New York City.