Summer 2007 -- All the news on Access-A-Ride -- Volume 5
Click here to view previous issues of OTM
By Thomas Charles, vice president, Paratransit Division
As Access-A-Ride’s (AAR) fleet grows from the current 1,480 vehicles to over 1,800 by the end of 2007 and we’re committed to using them with ever-greater efficiency. That’s why we value the "shared ride" concept and "subscription service." AAR passengers share vehicles just as bus and subway riders do. Because you’re sharing a vehicle with other riders, AAR can provide more trips.
Subscription service is now used by 28 percent of our weekday customers. It is designed for customers such as jobholders, students and senior-center members who travel at the same time one or more times a week to the same destination. Their subscription trips are automatically reserved, so they don’t need to call AAR every day.
Drivers benefit because subscription trips offer a more familiar routine and are predictable. To apply for subscription service, call 877-337-2017, press "1" for English and "6" for subscription.
Attention to efficiency doesn’t lessen our dedication to the quality of AAR service. You may already have benefited from some of our innovations:
"...Drivers benefit because subscription trips offer a more familiar routine and are predictable..."
Shortening trips through new technology.
AAR’s "Go North Do Not Pass" software schedules trips that do not veer far from the direction in which the customer is traveling. Another program assigns trips to carriers whose bases are nearby, keeping drivers in more familiar territory.
Increasing resources for AAR problem-solvers.
If traffic, inclement weather or vehicle problems cause delays, our carriers and dispatch liaison staff can send one of our 21 floater vehicles to assist in these situations.
We review day-of-service problems encountered by our customers to determine how we can avoid those problems in the future. This is a challenging endeavor and we will continue to improve wherever possible.
Refining Transit Control Staff Training.
Trainers use role-playing with staff to familiarize them with situations that may arise on the job. Staff learn to handle customer concerns efficiently and with sensitivity.
When an AAR customer’s schedule is flexible, please give our reservationists an approximate time you would like to leave and return. Of course, tell us when you must reach your destination and return home at specific times. For example, let AAR know if you must reach a doctor’s office by 2 p.m. or return home before a babysitter leaves at 9 p.m. AAR will accommodate your specific scheduling needs. We like to think we are, "growing your way" and this involves teamwork. Thank you for being part of the team.
"...Staff learns to handle "customer concerns with sensitivity..."
THE CHANGES DESCRIBED BELOW DO NOT AFFECT YOUR CURRENT ELIGIBILITY STATUS.
In January 2007, MTA’s Board of Directors approved a new AAR application procedure enabling AAR to more quickly and objectively assign appropriate eligibility status to applicants. Customers who are eligible (other than those with temporary eligibility) will need only re-apply every 5 years.
Continuing eligibility will be considered for individuals who cannot use regular transit bus or subway service under any circumstance whose disability is unlikely to improve and is determined likely to become more severe. If you’re certified for "continuing eligibility," you will NOT have to recertify. At the end of the five year eligibility period, you will receive a form requesting updated contact information.
Here’s how the new application process works:
1. If you’re registered with AAR, MTA New York City Transit will mail you a reminder to call 877-337-2017 to begin re-applying. This should happen about 2 months before your current AAR eligibility expires. Even if you don’t receive a reminder, it’s your responsibility to call at least six weeks BEFORE your card’s expiration date to begin the process.
If you’re applying to AAR for the first time, call 877-337-2017. Then press "1" for English and "1" to reach a customer representative.
2. When you call AAR, you’ll be asked if you’re available to be assessed during the next 15 days. If not, you may call back when you’re ready to be assessed.
3. If you agree to an assessment, a customer representative will request more information: your name, address, phone number, disability, AAR ID number (if appropriate) and times during the next 15 days when you are NOT available for an assessment. After the conversation, AAR will schedule an assessment which will not conflict with your appointments and activities.
4. NYC Transit will mail you the time and location of your assessment, instructions for arranging transportation and an AAR application packet. If you do not receive this material within a week after your call, contact AAR. NYC Transit NO LONGER ACCEPTS APPLICATIONS BY MAIL. You must bring your completed AAR application with ONE passport-size photo (less than 3 years old) to your in-person assessment. If your application is not complete, you WILL NOT be seen for assessment and you will need to re-schedule. We are often asked if medical documentation is required. It is not, but you may include it with your application.
5. A health professional who is knowledgeable about your disability will conduct the assessment. He/she will ask you about how your disability affects your travel. Depending on your disability, the assessor may request that you walk, climb stairs, identify signs or board a mock-up bus.
6. Based on information you provide and on observations your assessor makes, recommendations concerning your eligibility status are made. Within 21 days after the assessment, NYC Transit will make a decision on your status. After the decision is made, a written notification will be mailed to you.
7. You may appeal if you disagree with the decision. The appeals process has NOT changed. You have 60 days from the date on your eligibility notification to appeal.
It's Better to Ask
By Eunice Poku, public information and outreach coordinator
My mother used to say, "It’s always better to ask than to assume." After making many mistakes, I’m finally listening to her. I find her advice also applies to AAR.
Here’s how to find answers to AAR questions:
1. You’ve taken the first step by reading On The Move. It’s published twice a year and contains a wealth of information about service changes and updates. For instance, Beverly Morris explains the new application process on page 3. The Ready Information section on the last page lists helpful phone numbers and publications.
2. Contact an AAR customer representative when you have questions or need information. Please speak to a customer representative if AAR does not yet have your cell phone number or if your address changes so that we can keep in touch with you. You can reach AAR’s customer representatives weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 877-337-2017, press "1" for English and "1" again to be connected. Remember: This number is not for complaints (see AAR Ready Information page for additional phone numbers).
3. Read the Guide to Access-A-Ride. It contains what you need to know about AAR—from applying for AAR to handling same-day travel problems. To obtain an updated copy, see the Ready Publications page. Arrange for a weekday presentation at your senior center, house of worship, health center or disability organization in the five boroughs (see Ready Information Page). During our presentation, our friendly outreach team will answer questions and inform attendees about AAR service.
Take it from my mom: It’s always better to ask than to assume.
Pay Your AAR Fare!
AAR drivers are not required to transport customers and/or guests who do not pay their fare. Keep your fare (exact change is required) where you can reach it easily.
Leave Cell Phone
Please remember to keep your cell phone on before and during your AAR trip so you can be contacted if necessary.
Have You Changed Your Mobility Device?
Please let AAR know whenever you change your mobility device (from support cane to walker, walker to wheelchair, etc.) It is important for us to know the device you are traveling with so that either a seat or a wheelchair location is reserved for your trip. Wheelchairs/scooters may not exceed 51" length x 33.5" width and the total weight may not be more than 800 lbs. Call 877-3372017, press "1" for English and "1" to speak to a customer representative.
AAR passengers are required to wear seatbelts when the vehicle is moving. If the standard AAR seatbelts do not fit around you, request a seatbelt extender by calling 877-337-2017, press "1" for English and "1" again to be connected to a customer representative.
Subscription trips will be canceled automatically on:
Independence Day (July 4)
The day after Thanksgiving
Christmas Eve Day
New Year’s Eve Day
New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
If you need to travel on your usual subscription service route on any of the days listed above, you must request a trip 1-2 days in advance.
What’s the difference between a teacher and a conductor?
Answer: A teacher trains the mind. A conductor minds the trains.
Now it’s your turn — AAR is conducting our very first transit humor contest. Take a few moments to send us a bus, subway or AAR riddle or quip.
We’re judging entries on the basis of clarity, originality and creativity. Profane or offensive entries are not accepted.
The winner gets a gift from the Transit Museum, and the winning entry will appear in On The Move, where over 90,000 people can read it! Submit your entry no later than October 1, 2007 to: On The Move Newsletter, Attention: Humor Contest, 130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201. You can also e-mail it to Michael.Levy@nyct.com. Good Luck!
- Be courteous to customers, PCAs and guests
- Arrive within "30-minute wait period"
- Look for your customer, exit vehicle, but keep vehicle in sight
- Before a "no show" is declared, ask dispatch to call for customer’s location
- Park close to customer location, when possible
- Request customer AAR ID or photo ID prior to boarding
- Offer to assist customer to/from vehicle
- Only transport customers, PCAs or guests on manifest
- Animals (other than service animals) must be in pet carriers
- Carry up to two bags/parcels totaling 40 lbs. or less on/off vehicle
- Request fare prior to boarding
- Use lift when requested and give customer directions
- Customers using wheelchairs/scooters may board the lift facing forward or backward— it’s their choice
- Assist customers sitting in passenger seats to secure seatbelt
- Driver will secure wheelchair and seatbelt/shoulder harness
- Wear seatbelt when driving
- Notify dispatch if customer refuses to wear seatbelt or allow wheelchair securement before moving vehicle
- Ask customers to sign trip ticket and give them a copy
- Drive safely
- Keep aisles free of obstacles
- Play the radio softly
- Don’t use profanity or smoke in vehicle
- Help customers secure oxygen bottles and other devices
- Provide heat or A/C according to the season
- Be considerate of other passengers and your driver
- Be at pick-up location on time and prepared to wait up to 30 minutes
- Wait at entrance of pick-up location or at AAR designated bus stop sign
- Provide telephone/cell phone number where you can be reached
- Understand that driver may not be able to park near your "wait location"
- Show your AAR ID or photo ID prior to boarding
- Request assistance to/from vehicle, if needed
- Unreserved guests won’t be transported
- Animals (other than service animals) must be in pet carriers
- Take no more than two bags/parcels totaling 40 lbs. or less on/off vehicle
- Pay fare for self and guest as you board
- Request lift, if needed, and follow driver’s directions
- Customers using wheelchairs/scooters may board the lift facing forward or backward—it’s your choice
- Request assistance with securing seatbelt and remain seated during your trip
- Allow driver to secure wheelchair and seatbelt/shoulder harness
- Wear seatbelt and seatbelt/shoulder harness while vehicle is in motion
- Dispatch will be notified if you refuse to wear your seatbelt or allow wheelchair securement, and vehicle will not move
- Sign trip ticket and request a copy
- Don’t distract driver
- Don’t block aisles with bags, packages or mobility devices
- Use earphones if listening to your personal radio
- Don’t use profanity or smoke in vehicle
- Request help with securing oxygen bottles and other devices
- Request heat or A/C according to the season
Paratransit Advisory Committee (PAC)
By Denise Ann McQuade, public information coordinator
On September 19 and November 21, 2006 and January 16, 2007, Paratransit’s Vice President Tom Charles updated the PAC about AAR’s ongoing expansion (see his article, page 1). He reported that there was a driver shortage after Labor Day. In response, carriers offered sign-up bonuses to attract new drivers. AAR made a slight modification in the contract so that drivers would become available more quickly.
The PAC was concerned that AAR did not seek its input before purchasing 36 vehicles in 2005 that had a different seating configuration. Mr. Charles assured the PAC that, as in the past, AAR would seek input from the committee before making vehicle purchases.
The PAC learned about AAR’s Command Center during its September and November meetings. The Command Center’s By Denise Ann McQuade, public information coordinator Reservations, Scheduling and Transit Control units are operated by 497 employees of First Transit, a transportation management company under contract to NYC Transit. AAR managers monitor Command Center activities and employees.
Employees receive intensive training when they arrive and additional training when new issues arise. First Transit supervisors monitor employee performance, provide support and if necessary initiate progressive disciplining. The Reservation Unit’s 250 employees take customer trip requests and enter them into our computerized-scheduling system. Customers are then given their pick-up times. A full-time training coordinator, three supervisors and a quality assurance manager monitor and guide them.
The Scheduling Unit’s 25 employees constantly work to provide efficient trips. Using nine zones, the schedulers plan trips on 1,640 weekday routes and 700 weekend routes.
AAR’s Director of Scheduling, Tom Chin assured the PAC that contrary to the persistent urban legend, we create schedules here in our Long Island City office, NOT in Texas.
Transit Control, which typically receives 6,700 calls daily, operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its 180 employees handle same-day travel concerns, such as trip confirmations, late cancellations and inquiries from customers waiting for AAR vehicles.
Starting in mid-2007, an automatic vehicle locator monitor (AVLM) will be gradually introduced into the AAR fleet. AVLM can locate any AAR vehicle without contacting its driver. AAR will then be able to tell customers EXACTLY where their vehicle is. Sandy Gadsden, director of reservations, and Robert McCrae, director, Transit Control, joined Mr. Charles and Mr. Chin in the Command Center’s presentation. First Transit representatives included Justin Pare, project manager for the Command Center, Michael Blanks, assistant project manager for Reservations and James Miller, assistant project manager for Transit Control. To bring issues and concerns to the PAC’s attention, contact Stephanie L. White, Chair, c/o D. A. Mc Quade, 130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 or e-mail Denise.McQuade@nyct.com.
"...Transit Control, which typically receives 6,700 calls "daily, operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year... "
AAR can be called toll-free from area codes: 212, 718, 347, 516, 631, 646, 914, 845 by dialing 877-337-2017
From other area codes dial
TTY Relay 800-662-1220
TTY Reservations 718-393-4257
TTY Transit Control 718-393-4258
To request On The Move on audiotape, call Michael Levy at 718-393-4148.
To download a copy of On The Move go to the MTA website www.mta.info
To request braille subway maps, call Denise Ann McQuade at 718-393-4131.
To arrange for presentations for organizations with 15 or more people call Russell Schmid at 718-393-4130.
For copies of the MTA Guide to Accessible Transit or the Subway Map for Customers with Disabilities, please call 212-878-7483.
For the publications listed below, call NYC Transit Customer Information 718-330-3322 or TTY 718-596-8273 or write to:
NYC Transit Customer Services
2 Broadway, 11th Floor, Room D11.03
New York, NY 10004
- On The Move
- Guide to Access-A-Ride
- Access-A-Ride Quick and Easy Phone Tips
- Telephone Directory for Customers with Disabilities
- Have an Access-A-Ride Commendation or Complaint
- What is Subscription Service
Please write the editors wih your questions and comments:
On The Move, Access-A-Ride, MTA NYC Transit, Paratransit Division,130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
This is a publication of MTA New York City Transit Howard H. Roberts, Jr. – President Joseph Smith – senior vice president, department of buses Thomas J. Charles – vice president, paratransit division Carol Zwick and Denise Ann Mc Quade – senior editors Michael Levy and Eunice Poku, editors Moti Asif – art director