NEW YORK (1010 WINS/CBS 2) — Some Access-A-Ride passengers on Staten Island are no longer eligible for the service and now they’re scrambling to find a way to get around.
After three surgeries and battling chronic back-pain for nearly 15 years, the bus is no option for Kenneth Hicks.
“The stop-and-go, moving side-to-side really hurts, also just climbing up and you’re not really guaranteed a seat,” Hicks said.
Hicks is just one of hundreds Access-A-Ride users who have had their privileges revoked because they’re within walking distance of a bus stop – and considered able to do it.
New York City Transit said 40 percent of those who use Access-A-Ride are able walk one to five blocks to a bus stop — they determine that with a test.
Before being offered the service, Hicks and all other applicants were assessed for their physical ability including how far they could walk. Now, a database has been compiled, weighing the physical problem and the person’s closeness to mass transit.
Hicks said he uses the van for his doctors’ appointments which average up to four visits a month. Hicks said he’s had to cancel four appointments in the past two weeks.
“The only thing that they suggested is that I could reapply,” Hicks said. “I tried to get them to give me an emergency consideration but no one will call me back.”
CBS 2′s John Slattery spoke with the driver of one Access-A-Ride van who said there was no way any of the people he assisted could walk to a bus stop.
“Everybody that’s on here, they really can’t walk that far. They have to have oxygen, wheelchairs, walkers; they can’t walk that far for the MTA,” the driver said.
The MTA is now looking at whether each disabled person really requires the full service.
“Do we need to do this service exactly the way we’ve been doing it, or can it be done less expensively,” asked MTA board member Alan Cappelli.
The average Access-A-Ride costs the agency over $48 per ride — the customers pay a fare of $2.25.
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