By Thomas J. Charles, Vice President, Paratransit Division
AAR customers who travel within Staten Island will continue to receive an option for a voucher authorization for some of their trip requests, because a number of livery firms have contracts with MTA New York City Transit Paratransit (NYC Transit Paratransit) in Staten Island.
Broker Car Service means more convenience for many AAR customers, as well as a more cost-effective method of providing paratransit service to as many customers as possible.
How Broker Car Service Works
AAR assigns trips to Broker Car Service; then, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) automatically contacts you on the day of your trip. The IVR message will inform you to expect a Broker Car Service at the time of your scheduled pickup. You can also obtain this information by calling Travel Services (formerly Transit Control).
How We Assign Car Service/Taxi Trips
Approximately 30 percent of our annual trips within Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan will be assigned to car services and taxis; the other 70 percent of trips will be assigned to AAR carriers. In Staten Island, approximately 40 percent of trips will be assigned to livery firms via voucher authorization; the remaining 60 percent of trips will be assigned to AAR carriers.
We understand that many of our customers would prefer to travel via a car service for all trips. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law that regulates AAR, does not require AAR to provide car service or taxis to customers upon request. Additionally, it is necessary to limit the number of car service trips to monitor fraud and abuse as well as manage costs.
Making Broker Car Service as Effective as PossibleNYC Transit Paratransit is working with car service brokers to continue delivering safe, courteous, high-quality, on-time service —especially when customers have appointments. Several AAR employees travel on broker vehicles and present themselves as AAR customers. This lets our employees monitor driver behavior and competence, and rate their performance. The AAR representatives and the broker then discuss any issues that need improvement. Future issues of OTM will update you about the Broker Car Service program.
The emergency evacuation plan’s operations begin 72 hours before “Zero Hour,” defined as the time when winds from an approaching hurricane are predicted to reach a sustained speed in excess of 35 miles per hour. Based on the 72-hour timeline, NYC Transit Paratransit and other MTA operations can plan for a shutdown to protect customers, employees, and the equipment that will be necessary for recovery after the storm.
AAR services will shut down approximately six hours before Zero Hour. Prior to the shutdown, AAR will concentrate on transporting any traveling customers back to their homes, and transporting others to evacuation centers.
Well before the Paratransit shutdown, AAR will inform customers that their trips will be canceled if the trips cannot be completed before Zero Hour. At the same time, AAR will contact customers transported to their destinations to arrange for their trips home before the shutdown.
AAR customers who are unable to contact us prior to the shutdown can call 311 to request transportation to a local evacuation center. The person must be able to get out of the house to the sidewalk to get a ride from an AAR vehicle.
In its most recent Customer Satisfaction study, AAR found that many customers said they have friends and family who had helped them during Superstorm Sandy and would assist them in the event of an evacuation.
During winter storms, we follow the same procedure as we do during evacuations.
Before and during a severe winter storm, safety concerns may force AAR to decrease or even curtail transportation. This proactive plan contributes to our ability to restore service more rapidly after a storm.To check the services available during a storm, customers can visit our website at www.mta.info and should listen to updates on television and radio stations.
By Bobby Samuel, P.E., Director of AVLM & IVR projects, Division of Paratransit
The automated messages you may receive include:
• A reminder the night before about trips scheduled for the next day.
Call the Eligibility Unit at 877-337-2017; press “1” for English, and then press “1” again to speak with staff if you need to update your home phone/cell phone numbers; email address, and the name of your cell phone provider (e.g., AT&T; Verizon; Sprint; T-Mobile) for text messaging.
Tell staff whether you want your automated alert sent via telephone, cell phone (call or text message), or email.
When you call AAR at 877-337-2017, you can check on a trip that you have reserved by pressing Option “7” on the main menu. The automated system also has options to cancel a trip or manage your Subscription Service trips.
Currently, you can request trips via the Internet at www.mta.info by clicking on “Accessibility” on the main MTA web page; you then click on “Access-A-Ride” in the menu to get to the Paratransit web page, where you will find “Guide to Access-A-Ride Service.” Click on the banner, “Request a Reservation,” on the right side of the page.
We are going to offer more Internet options for our customers soon. In the near future, you will be able to manage other trip planning functions through the Internet. This includes confirming or canceling a trip; requesting Subscription Service; learning the status of a Subscription Service request; and putting your Subscription Service account on hold or cancelling it.What’s more, we will be able to offer these services through your Smartphone browser. You will have the chance to offer feedback about AAR service more easily by responding to automated telephone surveys. All of these changes will benefit our customers, and we are pleased to make them available.
Congratulations to AAR customer Daniel Robert and his bride, Nadina LaSpina, on their July 26 nuptials! Yes, AAR did get them to and from their ceremony on time, with help from the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and Maggies, one of our carriers.
NYC Transit currently sponsors travel training for qualified AAR customers. Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS) conducts the training under contract with NYC Transit. The instruction, which is specifically tailored to the needs of the individual, is conducted on a one-to-one basis, between the trainer and the customer.
Trainees master the following skills:
A training candidate should be motivated and medically stable, and should use the bus/subway often enough to maintain newly learned travel skills. Training is well underway, but do not wait to apply! Call 212-947-5770, extension 627, and leave a message. A member of CP of NYS’ travel training staff will contact you.
AAR Drivers Board and De-board From the Sidewalk
AAR rules require drivers to make sure passengers board from the sidewalk and depart the AAR vehicle where there is a sidewalk. You may need to cross the street from your point of origin to or from the vehicle to your destination, since the AAR driver will not pick you up or drop you off where there are moving vehicles.
Exact Fare, Please!
AAR Drivers Do Not Provide Change
Exact fare is collected prior to the vehicle’s departure, and may be collected prior to boarding. AAR drivers are not required to transport any person (s) who do not pay the fare.
Subscription Service is not in effect on the days listed below. If you are planning to travel on these holidays and holiday eves, you must call to reserve a trip.
A trip’s maximum ride time is based on trip distance. The chart below indicates
Learn More About AAR
Visit the AAR web page at www.mta.info and click on the Accessibility tab on the top; then click on the Access-A-Ride link in the box on the left side of the screen. You will be able to access NYC Transit’s “Guide to Access-A-Ride Service” as well as AAR policies and archived newsletters. You can also access information about accessible travel and other paratransit services on the MTA Accessibility page by choosing other options from the Accessibility menu.
Guide to Access-A-Ride Service
Drivers and Customers Can Make Everyone’s Ride Better
On The Move Newsletter
AAR customers who are blind or visually impaired may call 718-393-4133 to request Braille or cassette versions of AAR publications.
Call NYC Transit Customer Service at 511. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use
Write to MTA NYC Transit, Department of Buses, Paratransit Division,
When connected you will hear:
Thank you for calling AAR; AAR now offers an automated phone system to assist you. If you wish to check the status of a trip, cancel a reservation or manage your subscription, please press “7” now. In addition, you can now book your trips online at www.mta.info and select the “Accessibility” option. To continue in English, press “1”; for Spanish, press “2.” You are connected to our automated phone system. Your call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.
If you prefer to reserve your trip online, go to www.mta.info and select the “Accessibility” option.
For eligibility, appeals, certification or application questions, please press 1.