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Access-A-Ride cancellation leaves disabled stranded and outraged - New York Government



Michael A. Harris/File

Lili Lopez normally commutes from her Bronx home to Queens College, where she takes classes, but she won't be going today and she blames Access-A-Ride.

The shared-ride service shut down for ten hours today citing concerns about ice on sidewalks and in the streets, leaving many who rely on the service stranded in their homes. Riders like Lopez say they're angry not just about the shutdown, but the lack of notice.

"They called me at like 7 o'clock tonight and said sorry, we're not running in the morning," a frustrated Lopez said. "If they had given me more notice I could have arranged alternative transportation, but now I have no way to get here. I'm going to absent from four classes now."

Lopez says that she asked if she could get a voucher to take a car service, but was refused, a complaint we heard from several paratransit customers. The MTA says that since all trips were cancelled customers were not entitled to travel reimbursement.

Examiner.com spoke with Lopez this evening and she was unable to get to school today, asked about taking car service in, she said she couldn't afford it, noting "I'm a student." She says she'll have "a lot of work to do to make up for the classes I missed."

Lopez was not alone in her frustration.

"Bad weather is the time when people with disabilities need Access-A-Ride most," said Disabled in Action Vice President Edith M. Prentiss. "It's egregious."

This is the second time this year the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended paratransit service. On January 12 the agency suspended service due to a snow storm, the first time in several years that the agency cancelled the service.

The MTA did not respond to our repeated requests for comment on this story.

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Contact Michael A. Harris at mharris@examinerny.com