Some elderly and handicapped Manhattan residents can now simply hail a yellow taxi to get to their doctor’s appointment without having to wait for an MTA van to pick them up.
A new 90-day pilot program unveiled Wednesday will give 400 Access-a-Ride customers prepaid debit cards for yellow cab rides below 96th street, a measure the city said will save the MTA money and improve service. The MTA’s paratransit expenses reportedly have more than doubled between 2006 and 2010.
“This pilot program takes advantage of today’s technology and is a smart use of our city’s resources,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Currently 75 percent of Access-a-Ride users don’t need a lift-equipped vehicle, which costs the MTA an average of $49 a trip. Giving users the option of taking a cab will cut the MTA cost to an average of $15 per ride, officials said. Riders, meanwhile, will still only pay $2.25 — the cost of a subway or bus fare — for each trip.
Michael Harris, founder and former executive director of the Disabled Riders Coalition, called the program a “win-win” for the city and riders. He said it will free up lift-equipped vans for people who need it and cut travel times for all users.
MTA officials said if successful, it is looking to extend the length of the program or expand it to more customers. It may also look to use livery cabs in the future.