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PR- 511-10
December 15, 2010


Per Trip Cost will be Reduced by Nearly 70 Percent

Part of Mayor’s 2009 Campaign Plan to Reform Mass Transit and Mayor’s and Speaker’s Age-Friendly NYC Plan

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today announced a pilot program to use yellow taxi cabs to pickup and drop-off MTA Access-A-Ride customers, with the rides paid for with pre-paid debit cards. The pilot program is expected to reduce the MTA’s per trip cost for Access-A-Ride trips by nearly 70 percent and improve service for Access-A-Ride users. Access-A-Ride is the MTA’s program to provide transportation for people with disabilities, who are unable to use public bus or subway service, with 24-hour, door-to-door service. The program currently uses fully accessible vans for most users, with an average cost to the MTA of $49 per trip. Approximately 75 percent of Access-A-Ride customers do not require the use of a lift-equipped vehicle and the pilot program will be tested with 400 of those customers – with an average cost to the MTA of $15 per trip, rather than the current $49 cost. Access-A-Ride users pay $2.25 per trip under the existing program and will continue to do so under the pilot program. Mayor Bloomberg proposed using taxi cabs to support the Access-A-Ride program in his 2009 campaign and in the Age-Friendly NYC plan, which was developed in coordination with the New York City Council, the Department for the Aging and the New York Academy for Medicine. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by MTA Chairman and CEO Walder, Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith, Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David S. Yassky, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Matthew P. Sapolin, Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee, and Craig Vaream, a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase, which is issuing the debit cards for the pilot program.

“We first proposed this idea on the campaign trail last year and later incorporated it into our joint effort with the City Council to make New York a more age-friendly city,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We are now ready to deliver on our promise to offer Access-A-Ride users more convenience and greater flexibility – at a lower cost to taxpayers. It’s the latest in a series of mass transit improvements we have been able to achieve by working with the current MTA leadership, which has shown a real willingness to try new ideas and look for efficiencies. And with the City still facing difficult fiscal challenges, we are constantly searching across City government for more and more ideas like this one – innovations that will improve services while cutting costs.”

“We are working every day to find new ways to help our disabled customers navigate the city, whether it’s through our 85 accessible subway stations, fully-accessible fleet of 6,000 buses or our paratransit services,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Walder. “This initiative recognizes that most Access-A-Ride users don't need a wheelchair lift, and by targeting service to the needs of different customers within the disabled community we’re able to dramatically improve service and cut costs at the same time. For the first time, our disabled customers will be able to take regularly scheduled trips by hailing a yellow taxi and using a special, pre-loaded debit card.”

“If New York is going to continue to be an age-friendly city, we must respond to New Yorkers’ changing needs, and constantly strive to improve services,” said Speaker Quinn. “This pilot program takes advantage of today’s technology and is a smart use of our City’s resources. The use of yellow cabs will help make the city more accessible to older New Yorkers and make Access-A-Ride more efficient. Through partnerships like this one, we will be able to remain innovative, and make sure New York City remains a truly age-friendly city. I want to thank the Administration, my Council colleagues, the MTA, TLC and JP Morgan Chase, for working with us and making this program a reality.”

“This is an innovative and practical way that the City and MTA can work together to improve service for Access-a-Ride customers and reduce program costs,” said Deputy Mayor Goldsmith. “In providing critical data, the Taxi and Limousine Commission will help prevent waste and fraud to ensure a successful pilot and work toward a long-term solution.”

“Today’s announcement holds special meaning for those who require accessible transportation services,” said Council Member Vacca. “As the cost of Access-A-Ride outpaces available funding and as people live longer and longer, we need to think outside of the box so that no New Yorkers are left to fend for themselves when it comes to getting around our city.”

“This program will save money and make it easier for seniors and the disabled to travel around our city,” said Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, Chair of the Committee on Aging. “It's a win-win and exactly the kind of program we should be pursuing during these tough fiscal times.”

“Using the taxi fleet will give Access-A-Ride customers better service at cheaper cost,” said Taxi Commissioner Yassky.  “This is smart transportation policy by the MTA.”

“This pre-paid debit card pilot program will be highly beneficial to Access-A-Ride passengers who will now have an alternative choice of transportation and the program another good step towards reaching our larger goal of greater accessibility in the public transit system,” said Commissioner Sapolin. “We would like to thank the MTA, TLC and JPMorgan Chase for all of their efforts.”

“This program further cements our leadership status as the most Age-Friendly city in the nation,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli. “It not only prepares us for the growing number of seniors tomorrow, but ensures that older and disabled New Yorkers can remain in their community and retain their mobility to see their doctor or attend a senior center.”

“As a leading provider of card solutions, Chase continues to partner with its clients to introduce innovative new applications for prepaid cards,” said Craig Vaream, Managing Director, JPMorgan Chase. “We are proud to expand our long-standing relationship with the MTA and remain committed to delivering beneficial solutions to the citizens of New York City.”

The Access-A-Ride customers participating in the pilot program are customers that require pickup and drop-off locations in Manhattan below 96th Street. The volunteers are all ambulatory customers on Access-A-Ride’s subscription service – they travel to and from the same place at the same time on a regular basis. 

JPMorgan Chase worked with the MTA’s New York City Transit division to develop the electronic debit card for the Access-A-Ride pilot. Chase has been processing those cards and mailing them to customers participating in the pilot. Each card will have a different value pre-loaded, depending on the customer’s regular destination and frequency of use, with enough money pre-loaded to cover two weeks of subscription service. After two weeks, customers will send a check to New York City Transit covering $2.25 for each trip taken and more value can be automatically added to customer cards.

The pilot program will conclude after 90 days and, depending on results, the program may be extended for an additional 90 days or be expanded to include more customers. The City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission will utilize the GPS technology installed in each taxi cab provide tripsheet data from each ride to the MTA, which will enable the MTA to determine the pickup and dropoff locations of all trips as they analyze the results of the pilot program.

The MTA’s Access-A-Ride program currently has 150,000 customers.


Stu Loeser / Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

Jeremy Soffin (MTA)   (212) 878-7440

Jamie McShane/Shirley Limongi (Speaker Quinn)   (212) 788 7116

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