Disabled Transport Cost Woe
The costs of providing door-to-door transportation for the disabled is soaring - and there's no quick fix, according to a report released yesterday.
The Access-A-Ride program, which offers van service to those unable to use mass transit, cost the Transit Authority $189.8 million last year, up from $85.2 million in 2000, according to the report by the city's Independent Budget Office.
Transit officials anticipate program expenses to rise by an additional $50 million this year, according to the report.
The Independent Budget Office doesn't blame bureaucratic bungling for the burgeoning budget. In fact, it says TA expenditures are being driven up by the growing number of passengers requesting trips - which more than doubled: 4.7 million in 2005, compared to 2000.
The TA released a statement noting that the IBO report found that per-passenger expenses remained relatively stable over the years.
The higher demand stems in part from an easing of the rules, the report states. Passengers now need to request a trip only a day in advance. Reservations in some cases had to be made up to four days prior to the travel date in some cases.
"Driven by the increase in demand, Access-A-Ride has become one of the fastest-growing parts of NYC Transit's Operating Budget," the report states.
The report says that enabling more of the disabled to use the TA's system of subways and buses would be one way of reducing its paratransit budget. But making a subway station fully accessible by installing elevators and making other upgrades is a big-bucks endeavor, averaging $13million per station.
The Americans With Disabilities Act mandates public buses and key rail stations be accessible. In a lawsuit settlement, the TA agreed to make 100 key subway stations accessible by 2020. A total of 68 stations meet the Americans With Disabilities Act requirements, including 53 key stations.