Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ack-Stress-O-Ride


I've always been intrigued by new vehicles. I remember where I saw my first Volkswagen Golf.  I walked over to it and stared at it like I never saw a hatchback before. Well I was in undergraduate so a lot of things looked new and amazing to me.

But I really do remember the first time I saw this vehicle. It was a couple years ago and I was coming out of the Brooklyn battery Tunnel. I was thinking, I got to get one of those. They would really be useful in putting water and while markers out on race courses.

For a minute I even did some research on where I could buy one. I didn't do much research, because I thought you couldn't. Now I know you can. I don't think that many individuals will but I am happy the New York City MTA is  I might be one of the few Ack Stress O Ride who use social media. I set up a Facebook page. I wonder how long it will take for someone besides myself to post..

Yeah, for the past few months and for the foreseeable future MTA Access A Ride is my primary way of getting around.  It is far from a perfect system and the reason it was created was kind of backwards. Years ago the handicap people of New York sued the MTA because subways are not handicapped accessible. Instead of making them handicapped accessible they made door-to-door service for people who need it. It is probably a lot cheaper and a lot safer to give me door-to-door transportation to build elevators and ramps in every subway station.

In If you have regular appointments you can set up a subscription where your ride will come at the same time and then pick you up at the same time same place over time. To do this you have to use the Internet. It's not that hard but you have to use the Internet. For trips that don't have a pattern you have to call or use the Internet 1 to 2 days in advance. You have to deal with pressing some buttons on your phone and dealing with someone who might not have the same accent you have. Then you have to listen to them read back everything to you a few times to make sure it's right. You also cannot make a trip the same day you want to trip. So yeah this is a little complicated. Now imagine if you have a disability, or maybe you just don't feel comfortable using the Internet. This will be very frustrating. So if you don't how to use the Internet or touchtone phone you're going to complain.

Part of the problem is that the drivers are not really employed by the MTA. This seems to be five or 10 companies that the MTA outsourced this business to. They all work as hard as a bus driver but they get paid a lot less. For the most part, the drivers are nice. But they are bound to schedule that often cannot keep. If one of them gets stuck in traffic five hours before the supposed to pick you up, they will be late to pick you up. So you really just have to hope that your driver is at the beginning of their shift when it's their turn to pick you up. So I have learned to tell excess a ride that my appointment is 45 minutes earlier than it is. I often get there an hour early but this way I never get there late. Going home I just make sure my stomach is full and my bladder is empty before I start to wait. It's not easy for me to schedule my bodily functions, so I try there is less of a reason to complain.

My physical therapy sessions or at the Rusk Institute. Not so conveniently located on 38th St. between 2nd and 3rd. yeah not really convenient to be right on top of the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Traffic is backed up all the time. Also, not too far from the UN. So today I knew my ride home would be late because Hillary was giving a speech at the UN and the Archbishop was being funeralysed at St. Patrick's. Again, I am aware of current events, so this delay was not the end of the world for me. But most of the other people who use excess ride aren't really that much aware of what's going on. So they complain.

Another problem with excess ride is that unless the drivers are told otherwise we will follow the GPS that is built into each vehicle. There is a big problem with GPS software in New York City. It follows the shortest route. Often, the shortest route is not the fastest route. I'm able to tell my drivers how to get around much faster than their GPS tells them to. Nearly all of the time and follow my instructions and are happy to get me there on time or early. Not everyone is like me and is willing to tell the driver how to drive. Many just complain that the driver doesn't how to drive.

Last Friday I experienced the perfect shit storm of a round-trip. On the way to therapy got stuck on the left and I was kind of hanging in the air in the wind for about 15 minutes. The driver had to lower it manually. Kinda like the photo to the right but it was 25° so I was not wearing a skirt. On the way home I had 2:15 pick up. I have learned that if I don't get an automated phone call by the pickup time I should call them and find out where the vehicle actually is. They told me it was canceled because I wasn't there. I corrected the operator and told her I've been waiting since 2 o'clock and then she said oh it was canceled because the vehicle broke down and now we have a 3 o'clock pickup for you. Fine. The 3 o'clock showed up and lucky me the lift broke again. At least I was not on it this time and I eventually got pickup at 4:30. And even luckier me I wasn't the first stop, so we had to take the Manhattan Bridge. Nothing like driving through Chinatown at 5 o'clock on a Friday.

I feel compelled to let you watch this video and stay tuned for another blog post about how much fun it was to sign up for ack stress o ride











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