The next phase of this program is set to run through February 2024 and could be extended through August 2024 after a six-month review.  -  Photo: MTA

The next phase of this program is set to run through February 2024 and could be extended through August 2024 after a six-month review.

Photo: MTA

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced an expansion of the E-Hail pilot, tripling its participants to 3,600 paratransit customers beginning August 2023.

What is MTA's E-Hail?

E-Hail is an on-demand service that offers Access-A-Ride (AAR) customers the opportunity to book trips in real-time through existing taxi or for-hire vehicle service.

The next phase of this program is set to run through February 2024 and could be extended through August 2024 after a six-month review.

This expansion will be launched with a larger, more representative sample of Access-A-Ride customers with a $4 co-pay and has two programs: one with a greater per-trip subsidy, the Distance option, and the other with a greater number of subsidized trips per month, the High- Volume option.

The distance-based program will provide up to 25 trips a month for up to $40 each and the high volume-based program will provide up to 40 trips a month for up to $25 each.

Customers can travel further than their allocation of $25 or $40 and pay the balance of the trip cost.

The customer co-pay for each program is $4 and will be fully applied to the cost of the trip, allowing customers to take a $29 trip or $44 trip before paying any additional cost.

E-Hail trips will be provided by Uber, Arro, Corporate Transportation Group (CTG), and the Drivers Cooperative, with the potential for one or two more on-demand providers to be brought on soon.

“We recognize the convenience greater flexibility in scheduling trips provides for Access-A-Ride customers,” said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. “We established the goal to make improvements to the E-Hail program in the Faster, Cleaner, Safer plan and this next step will allow us to further evaluate how we can offer alternative options to Access-A-Ride customers to improve the paratransit experience.”

Next Phase for E-Hail

The parameters set for the second phase are based on the findings from Phase 1 and structured comparably to on-demand paratransit services from agencies across the country making this a more fiscally sustainable pilot.

The trip and subsidy allocations will impact a minority of Phase 1 participants, with only 14% of participants having taken 40 or more trips per month on average in spring 2023 and 22% having taken 25 trips or more.

By establishing a set number of trips per month and MTA subsidy per trip, the Authority is able to expand the benefits of E-Hail to 2,400 additional customers, with an adjusted budget of $17.6 million for the E-Hail pilot, compared to the estimated $16 million allocated in the first phase.

Additionally, the majority of Phase 1 participants will continue to benefit from the on-demand service with little to no modification in their travel patterns. Phase 1 participants will be assigned to a program based on their travel patterns in the first phase.

Participants in the E-Hail pilot will continue to have access to the standard Access-A-Ride service, which has no limit on travel within the AAR service area at the current transit fare of $2.75.

The on-demand service is intended to serve as an additional option to traditional paratransit service, enhancing flexibility and spontaneity for customers.

This next phase of the E-Hail on-demand pilot aims to provide a more reliable forecast of the cost of expanding the E-Hail program and more detailed data for program evaluation through testing of a distance-based program and frequency-based program.

Phase 1 Findings

The E-Hail pilot originally launched in 2017 to 200 customers and expanded to 1,200 customers shortly thereafter, allowed paratransit customers to book rides on-demand through the app for $2.75 a trip with no limits on trips or cost.

The pilot was launched to explore how to provide additional, flexible transportation options for paratransit customers above and beyond what is federally mandated.

From Phase 1, the median number of trips per month was 17.5 and the median cost per trip was $40. Out of the 1,200 customers in the pilot, as many as 21 people took over 150 trips in one month, and the top 6% of participants used 50% of the pilot's budget. 

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