The Manhattan Transit Authority (MTA) is planning to reduce or eliminate 20 bus routes.
The MTA board is meeting on Dec. 17 to discuss the elimination and reduction of bus routes that run parallel to subway lines in Manhattan. Most of the subways stations are not handicap accessible. An analysis of the planned cutbacks revealed that thousands of people with disabilities would be left without access to mass transportation on weekends and nights.
“We can’t strand our senior and disabled citizens. We all need to be able to get around the city and these bus routes are critical links for a vulnerable people” said Council Member Jessica Lapin.
“The whole point of bus service 30 years ago was to help people get around; especially disabled people” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Part of the plan is to double the price of Access-A-Ride van fare which costs two dollars per trip. Access-A-Ride (AAR) is a door to door transportation service for people with disabilities who are unable to use public bus or subway. AAR operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week in all five boroughs.
According to the press release issued by Scott Stringer on Monday each AAR trip costs the MTA more revenue than they collect in fares, even after the proposed fare increase. The key to increasing income for the MTA is to discourage ridership. They predict $9.3 million can be made from fare hikes but $26.7 million can be made from decreased ridership.
“The proposal illustrates exactly the kind of backwards thinking that got the MTA into this mess to begin with” said the Director of Advocacy for the Disabilities Network of NYC Lawrence Carter-Long. “Discouraging use and decreasing services while increasing costs for disabled passengers is not only bad business practice, it’s discriminatory.”
“Doubling the fare for the majority of these riders would mean an increase in MTA revenue that we estimate to be little more than one-tenth of one percent, but it would reduce or even eliminate the lifeline that links many disabled people to the outside world” wrote Stringer in a Dec. 10 blog. “This ill-thought-out proposal—more than doubling the current $2 fare for riders who use the Access-A-Ride vans—manages to target one of our most vulnerable populations, while providing so little new revenue that it constitutes essentially a rounding error.”
On the same website, Stringer suggested bringing back the commuter tax whose repeal he fought in the assembly. He said $700 million or more could be generated from it annually.
Stringer will deliver a petition to the MTA’s upcoming board meeting urging them to reconsider their plans; it has been signed by 1,600 New Yorkers.
“The reason for this press conference and the petitions we got is so when the MTA officials vote, they vote with their hearts and heads” said Stringer.