The MTA’s Access-A-Ride service was slammed in a new audit that criticizes the agency for a severe lack of oversight that has led to widespread mismanagement and unreliability.
The audit, released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Tuesday, says the paratransit service failed to show up for 31,492 trips scheduled in 2015.
And one Access-A-Ride contractor in The Bronx with an on-time arrival rate of less than 50 percent faced little retribution, according to the audit.
“In a city that prides itself on diversity, accessibility and tolerance, Access-A-Ride is an affront to all New Yorkers,” Stringer said at a press conference on the steps of City Hall. “When you strand somebody in the middle of the day with no hope to get home, you not only put that person’s safety in jeopardy, you disrupt the life of that individual.”
Surrounded by dozens of Access-A-Ride users, Stringer said he believed that the infrastructure is in place for the MTA to appropriately serve its 144,000 paratransit riders. But he said the agency needs to better utilize GPS tracking to hold its 16 contracted companies more accountable for lousy service.
Out of the 9.3 million Access-A-Ride trips that Stringer examined, the report found 2.5 million had been “reconciled” by service providers to make it appear that drivers had completed trips earlier than GPS data indicated. Stringer accuses the MTA of not strictly enforcing GPS requirements in paratransit vehicles, making it more difficult to track that service.
“This allowed companies to forego the GPS all together and essentially rely on an honor system to record trips,” Stringer said.
Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson for the MTA countered in a statement, saying that “while every single customer is important, the 31,000 no shows mentioned in the audit accounts for less than half of one percent of total trips.”
Ortiz added that the MTA is continuing to look for ways to improve and reduce the cost of service, which the MTA subsidizes at $56.89 per paratransit bus rider.
“We will continue to enhance our efforts to improve contractor performance, so that our customers receive safe, reliable, timely and cost-effective service,” he said.