Score one for people with disabilities who use Access-A-Ride Paratransit (AAR) in New York City.

On June 12, 2024, the Supreme Court of the State of New York denied the MTA motion to dismiss a case to end the discrimination that excludes this population from public transit disability and senior fare discounts, including 30- and 7-day unlimited fares.

Currently, AAR riders must pay the full fare of $2.90 for every trip. This is regardless of the number of trips they take per month, and whether or not they qualify for a Reduced-Fare MetroCard because of their disability or age.

“Access-A-Ride Paratransit users require transportation to get to their jobs, to school, medical appointments, social and community events — everything that people with no disabilities use transportation to get to,” says Christopher Schuyler, managing attorney with the Disability Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). NYLPI represented the plaintiffs along with Mobilization for Justice and pro bono counsel Jenner & Block LLP.

“We think it’s really unfair that Access-A-Ride users are not offered the same discounts as people who ride subways and buses,” Schuyler adds.

In the Court’s ruling, the judge agreed with plaintiffs that “based on the allegations in this case, the [American with Disabilities Act] and the DOT implementing regulations do not preempt the New York City Human Rights Law,” according to a press release from NYLPI, Mobilization for Justice and Jenner & Block.

“This is a promising juncture in the case,” Schuyler tells The Boost. “It can now proceed and we can really start to litigate it.”

Paratransit riders face challenges statewide in New York, ranging from unreliable pick-up and drop-off times to high costs — riders in Westchester County pay $5 a ride — and the need to contact Paratransit at least one day in advance (and up to seven).

The day-before-scheduling requirement is also being tackled in New York City. This past April, a federal judge ruled that NYC MTA may be violating New York City Human Rights Law for requiring people with disabilities to book Access-A-Ride trips by 5 p.m. the day before travel.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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