The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) plans to limit a popular pilot program that provides some New Yorkers with inexpensive, wheelchair-accessible Taxi and For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) rides. The pilot program currently offers 1,200 people unlimited Access-A-Ride trips for $2.75 via an on-demand smart phone app.

A letter sent from MTA chairman Pat Foye to Mayor de Blasio’s office said the program will be curbed so the number of taxi-type rides offered to customers will be capped at 16 per month. Instead of paying $2.75, they’ll ride for free until the cost of their ride hits $15. After that, they’ll have to pay the remainder of the cost for rides.

On the plus side, the number of people participating in the program will be doubled to 2,400, according to Foye’s letter.

MTA accessibility chief Alex Elegudin said growing the number of users in the pilot program will let the agency collect more data on riders. He also said the changes are similar to programs in other major cities.

“In 2019 we’re probably going to land with more than 50% of Access-A-Ride trips being done by taxi,” said Elegudin. “The more capacity we build on the taxi side, the more we can reduce the size of our dedicated fleet” of Access-A-Ride vans, which are more expensive and offer poorer service.

News of the change disappointed some advocates for disabled New Yorkers, who have repeatedly hailed the pilot program’s success.

Foye’s letter also calls on the city to contribute half of the cost of the MTA’s Access-A-Ride program. City government currently pays one-third of the program’s cost.

The MTA launched the e-hail pilot program in November 2017 for 200 New Yorkers, but quickly expanded it due to its popularity. The pilot was set to expire at the end of April, but the agency extended it.

The change to the e-hail pilot is one of several that Foye hinted at in an email sent to MTA board members, which referenced the agency’s dire financial situation.

Source:New York Daily News

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