The New York MTA made two announcements in its continued pursuit of improved paratransit service, including the expansion of its paratransit service, which will allow NYC Transit’s Access-a-Ride (AAR) program to provide more of its trips in taxis and for-hire vehicles (FHV) in coming years, improving the customer experience and reducing journey time.
The new initiative, called “enhanced broker service,” improves upon a pilot program called “advance reservation e-hail,” as well as the current broker program by making taxi and FHV service an increasingly integral part of paratransit service.
In addition, the agency announced an eight-month extension of its popular “on-demand e-hail” pilot program, allowing 1,200 participating customers to electronically hail yellow or green taxicabs on demand, similar to popular publicly available on-demand ride services. The pilot project period lasts through the end of next month, but the MTA said it will be extended at least through the end of the year, while the authority continues to establish how and if it can be made more sustainably permanent and even expandable. In addition to presenting this extension to the MTA board, the authority will release additional details and any modifications of the extended pilot in the coming weeks, but the $2.75 price will remain constant.
The new program announced today, known as “enhanced broker service,” applies to all paratransit users and will mean the continuation of thousands of AAR trips in taxis and FHVs each day, with continued growth over time. A new partnership with Curb Mobility LLC — the taxi technology company currently providing the majority of “advance reservation e-hail” trips to AAR customers — is the foundation of this initiative. Long-standing broker Corporate Transportation Group (CTG) will also continue to provide thousands of FHV trips to paratransit customers each day.
“Improving accessibility and service for our customers with disabilities is one of the four pillars of our plan to modernize transit in New York City,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “While forging ahead with making the subway more accessible and enhancing our fully wheelchair-accessible bus fleet, we’re also modernizing and improving the Access-a-Ride service that more than 150,000 New Yorkers depend upon.”
The new program introduces an improved taxi-based option that will be a cornerstone of AAR paratransit service in the future. Currently, many AAR customers ride in dedicated AAR-branded vans and sedans, but taxis and FHVs are becoming increasingly available options. All trip types cost the same for the customer: $2.75.
Benefits of the new enhanced broker service over the “advanced reservation e-hail” pilot that it is replacing include:
- The option to book trips on the myAAR app.
- The capacity to provide trips for customers who use wheelchairs.
- The inclusion of Staten Island in broker service, provided by Islander Transportation and replacing the voucher system.
- The ability to use taxis for door-to-door assisted service by specially trained operators, as opposed to curb-to-curb pickups and drop-offs of traditional taxis.
- Ensuring that taxi drivers that perform AAR trips go through specialized training, including wheelchair accessible vehicle training and FTA-regulated drug and alcohol testing.
- The ability to track the location of vehicles — whether taxi, FHV or dedicated AAR vehicles — on the myAAR app.
- The ability for customers to pay with TransitCheks.
- Better tracking and reporting of the on-time performance of taxi and FHV trips.
- Streamlining the complaints process for AAR trips in taxis.