Press Release #19-022
Thursday, May 2, 2019
Contact: Scott Gastel/Lolita Avila (212) 839-4850
DOT Announces New Rule to Allow Access-A-Ride Vehicles in Bus Lanes
A new rule published this week will speed the movement of vehicles in the popular paratransit program: Change will take effect on Thursday, May 30
The New York City Department of Transportation today announced the adoption of a new rule that will allow certain Access-A-Ride (AAR) vehicles to use dedicated bus lanes. Under the City Administrative Procedure Act, the new rule (published this week in The City Record; see link) will officially take effect after a 30-day window—on Thursday, May 30.
“This week’s rule change helps us strike a balance -- keeping Access-A-Ride users moving while making sure 2.5 million daily MTA bus riders can efficiently arrive at their destinations in our dedicated lanes,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Thanks go to the advocates who have long fought for this change as well the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and New York City Transit. I also want to thank Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions for their leadership and partnership. Changing the legal framework for Access-A-Ride and speeding those trips brings us one step closer to a fairer, more inclusive city.”
The new rule amends bus lane requirements and adds a new definition for Access-A-Ride vehicles. Among its changes, the new rule allows wheelchair-accessible AAR vehicles with four or more passengers to operate in bus lanes. First introduced on March 8, 2019, a public hearing on the rule was held on April 11, 2019. As a part of its rule-making process, DOT engaged with a series of stakeholders and received both written and oral comments regarding the proposed rule. As this dialogue continues, the new rule may be amended as necessary.
“The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) fully supports DOT’s adopted rule, which will lead to more reliable service for the over 150,000 New Yorkers with disabilities who currently use AAR in a way that also preserves the quality of bus lanes for the general public,” said MOPD Commissioner Victor Calise. “MOPD appreciates DOT’s partnership as well as the work of disability rights advocates who have led the way in working to make New York the most accessible city in the world.”
“I want to thank the advocates and our partners in city government for helping to make this a reality. We have long stood for the common-sense and fair measure to allow Access-A-Ride vehicles to use dedicated bus lanes,” said Andy Byford, President, NYCT “This is an exciting new development for paratransit riders and another example of the excellent collaboration we have with NYCDOT and of the positive impact that advocates have on our transportation landscape."
“Allowing Access-A-Ride vehicles in dedicated bus lanes, which are designed to improve traffic flow for all who utilize vehicular mass transit, is a common-sense solution to an age-old problem,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “In order for Access-A-Ride to fulfill its mission to riders with disabilities, paratransit must be able to move efficiently. I commend DOT for their action on this much-needed rule change, and I thank Council Member Ayala and all of the disability rights advocates whose partnership has helped us advance this meaningful policy, including our work on my office’s ‘Barrier-Free BK’ initiative and exploration of legislative remedies. I look forward to reviewing the success of this new rule and exploring additional ways we can improve transit accessibility and fairness.”
“Allowing Access-A-Ride vehicles in bus lanes will help ensure users are arriving to their destinations faster and ultimately make this service more reliable,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the City Council's Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction. “I thank DOT for working with my office and Borough President Adams' office to ensure this rule was as comprehensive as possible. Additionally, I thank all of the advocates who pushed for this change, as well as the MTA, and MOPD for working on this crucial effort.”
“Because the subway system is largely inaccessible, 150,000 New Yorkers with disabilities need to use Access-A-Ride to get around, and are constantly delayed by traffic congestion,” said Eman Rimawi, Access-A-Ride Campaign Coordinator, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “Allowing these public transit vehicles to use bus lanes is a vital step toward making paratransit more efficient and giving people with disabilities equal access to this important public infrastructure. Thank you to Mayor De Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for making this change."
"The DOT's smart, common-sense rule change will help speed rides that frustrate so many of us," said Valerie Joseph, Access-A-Ride Advocate for the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled. "There's a reason Access-A-Ride is called 'stress-a-ride,' but this will help ease the stress." BCID is a member of the Access-A-Ride Reform Group, or AARRG!, which advocated for the rule change.
“Thousands of New York’s seniors and mobility-challenged residents already view Access-A-Ride as their primary public transportation option,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, the Chair of the Aging Committee. “By allowing Access-A-Ride to operate in New York City’s bus lanes, we are one step closer to a system that will work for all of New York’s commuters. I want to thank Commissioner Trottenberg and Council Member Ayala for your strong partnership to improve equity and access to our public transportation.”
“This is a step in the right direction for Access-A-Ride users, for whom it will mean faster travel to work, to school, to medical appointments, and to social activities,” said Susan Dooha, Executive Director of Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY.
About Access-A-Ride -While people with disabilities rely heavily on MTA buses for mobility, MTA New York City Transit administers AAR to provide transportation for people with disabilities whose disability prevents their use of accessible mass transit, public bus, or subway service for some or all of their trips. Access-A-Ride is a shared-ride, door-to-door or feeder service operated by private carriers under contract to the MTA.