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Disabled Riders Fear Changes Planning For MTA, Access-A-Ride Programs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Since it was started 30 years ago, the idea was people would call a day ahead and schedule a ride. Three years ago the MTA added an on-demand feature that works just like any other ride-sharing app, but that program is at risk of being scaled back.

Disabled New Yorkers are calling on city and state leaders to step up and do more to help them get around, CBS2's Kevin Rincon reports.

For Lillian Rivera, a knee injury has left her needing to use the Access-A-Ride program.

"They're not reliable," she said. "They're very disrespectful."

She's not alone in feeling that way. Dolores Lucking has mobility issues and says just getting general services can be an uphill battle.

"They have no elevator. You have like eight steps you need to go up in, I can't use the building," she said.

Even some of the six Access-A-Ride program's buildings can be difficult, with hard-to-open doors, lacking elevators and crowded waiting rooms needed to sign up for the service itself.

"The idea that the NY State Legislature could do historic funding for the MTA over the last year, and they would then come back and break a program that's working and that is necessary for so many New Yorkers, is unconscionable," said Brooklyn assemblyman Robert Carroll.

The on-demand feature was recently expanded to 1,200 disabled New Yorkers, allowing them to get around for $2.75 a rise, the same price as a subway ride. The MTA wants to change that and instead offer a $15 subsidy.

Bronx Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz is one of the legislators who wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and MTA chair Patrick Foye, asking them to keep things as is.

"If it ain't broke, don't break it," said Dinowitz. "The program has worked beautifully, we don't want to see it limited."

For now, these lawmakers and advocates say they're hoping to see more services, not less, in order to let every New Yorker get around freely.

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