Sunday, September 23, 2018

Why is the MTA punishing people for being disabled?


Placeholder for link to change.org petition

I'm definitely pausing the distribution of any online petition at this point. After testifying before the MTA board yesterday the feedback I got was that this is going to be fixed.A high-level mucky muck came over to me right after I spoke to get more details about this issue so "it can be corrected". Also, on my way out of the building and assisted to a mucky muck told me that while I was speaking a lot of people in the room were already texting each other on how to fix this problem. (9/25/2018)


If you live in New York City you must be pretty familiar with Access A Ride Vans. Those big white and blue Ford diesel vans that drive people with disabilities  all over the city. These vas basically exist because years ago the disabled people of New York sued the MTA because the world's largest subway system was built a long time ago and has a lot of stairs. It was cheaper to give disabled people door-to-door transportation then to make the system work for all the cities residents. With access ride disabled people are able to be picked up and brought anywhere in New York City for $2.75. That's the same price as a subway fare, but since we can't get on the subway we get to do it in a van.

Before I became disabled all I knew about it was that it's a thing that everyone who uses it complains about. Once I became dependent on it I honestly felt it wasn't that bad. Don't get me wrong, it has an enormous room for improvement but once I figured out how it works it wasn't the end of the world. In any case I became part of a pilot program where I was able to use the Curb app and make a yellow or green taxi appear within minutes and only pay $2.75.

All access ride customers are issued in access ride MetroCard it's good for four trips a day and no fare is collected. Here are all the details on that. It doesn't say why New Yorkers with a disability are issued a MetroCard that gives them free trips so it just leads me to speculate.

  • People with disabilities have good days and bad days and on a good day most of us would rather actually take the train or the bus. The MTA is helping some disabled people transition back to "normal".
AND /OR
  • Driving people around door-to-door in vans is very expensive. The MTA saves a lot of money when disabled people get on a bus or subway.

Either way I very happy to take mass transit on the days I've been able to climb stairs. Last year I misplaced my card (by "misplacing"I mean I thought I lost it, but eventually it turned up) and after I thought I looked everywhere I called the MTA and ask for replacement. They told me to get a postal money order for $10 and send and mail it to them. I thought this was a little archaic, but many of the other people who use access ride might not feel comfortable paying online, so I went down to the post office.. I got my card within a reasonable amount of time and moved on with life. Unfortunately, in the past year this happen two more times. The third time it happened I actually found my MetroCard before they sent me my replacement. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it still worked and as soon as I got off the subway I called the MTA and told them I found it. They told me I was lucky because if it would have been of turned it off I would've had to wait four months for the new one to be sent to me. I thought this was a bizarre rule but I was happy that I dodged the bullet. However, two days later my card stop working. I called access ride and they said no matter what anyone said as soon as I said it was lost it needed to be turned off and could not be turned back on I had to wait 120 days. Below, is the rule that explains that.


Q. Where do I report a lost or stolen AAR MetroCard?

A. Immediately report a lost or stolen card by calling AAR at 1-877-337-2017.  NYC Transit will reissue lost or stolen  cards at its discretion after receipt of a $10 replacement fee.  After replacement of three or more lost or stolen cards, NYCT will impose a 120-day waiting period before reissuing another card.  This waiting period will also be imposed for the replacement of any subsequent cards.  Payments must be made in the form of a USPS® Postal Money Order payable to MTA New York City Transit and mailed to NYC Transit, Paratransit Division, Eligibility Unit, 130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn NY 11201.

I complained up and down the line that I felt I was being penalized for losing things.If I'm paying for the replacement why do I have to wait?  I honestly gave up on having an exception made for me because I was okay waiting 120 days. I was able to use the Curb app and when I'm able to bus drivers always let me on the bus because the card I have is not expired. Also, the staff at subway stations (including the police) open the gate for me when I show them my valid card. So, and by complaining about this policy I made it clear I wasn't asking for an exception I was asking for a change in the rule because not everyone who is disabled is going to feel that they could ask for help from the bus drivers and the subway staff to aid them in transportation needs. I really got nowhere with this complaining. Everyone thought I was trying to ask for an exception and reminding me that these were the rules.

I also lost my drivers license. Not that I drive anymore, but it was the enhanced federal version of the New York State drivers license. It was the type of card that can get me across the border into Canada or onto an airplane. I called the DMV and all I had to do was give them my credit card number and let them take about $21 for my account and I got a new one mailed to me. No trip to the post office no waiting 120 days if I lost it more than twice.

Then it occurred to me that  friend uses her credit card to refill her MetroCard at a vending machine and so do hundreds of thousands of people on a regular basis. If she were to lose her card she can report it to the MTA and get a prorated refund. Here's the website  it doesn't say anything about paying for replacement card or waiting 120 days if it happens more than twice.The first time you make a claim there is no charge. The second time there is a five dollar charge. The MTA will only efix your card twice a year.

And then there's the program where your credit card is automatically billed to your MetroCard works forever (or until the piece of plastic expires and then they send you a new one). Below are the details on that.


Q. What if my EasyPayXpress MetroCard is lost or stolen? 

A. You must immediately report your EasyPay MetroCard lost or stolen online at www.easypaymetrocard.com or call our Automated Telephone Service 24/7 at1-877-323-RIDE (7433). We will deactivate your card to protect you from unauthorized charges. Failure to report your MetroCard lost or stolen may result in unauthorized fares which you will be responsible for. You will not be liable for unauthorized EasyPay MetroCard use that occurs AFTER you notify EasyPay MetroCard, electronically, verbally or in writing, of non-operation, loss, theft or possible unauthorized use. We will send you a replacement card in the mail. Please allow 15 business days for processing.  
So here's the thing. Speaking for myself I can definitely say that people with disabilities are more likely to lose things than the general population. My disability affects my hands the most. I often drop things without knowing it. I've been hanging out with a lot of people with disabilities lately visual impairments and other cognitive issues. I'm pretty sure researches been done the disabled people or more likely to misplace things than the general population.

So why is there a trip to the post office and a 120 waiting period when a person with a disability needs to replace their MetroCard and all a person in the general population has to do is pick up the phone?

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