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May 4, 2009

DiNapoli Audit Raises Safety Concerns With MTA Program

Report Recommends Improvements to Access-A-Ride Program

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Access-A-Ride program should improve its safety and inspection practices to make sure passengers are not exposed to unsafe conditions, according to an audit New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released today. The audit found that at the four sampled carriers that operate the MTA’s program for disabled New Yorkers had not consistently documented daily inspections to their fleet of vehicles and did not adequately ensure appropriate certification of the mechanics that made the repairs.

“Every MTA ride should be a safe ride,” DiNapoli said. “The MTA needs to improve oversight of Access-A-Ride. New Yorkers deserve the highest safety standards from the transit system. The MTA should step up and make sure safety is the top priority.”

"Access-A-Ride users have long put up with getting second best status in terms of customer service, dependability and accountability," said Lawrence Carter-Long, Acting Executive Director for the Disabilities Network of NYC, a non-profit organization of over 60 different advocacy and service groups working for people with disabilities. "We can ill afford to allow the same with safety. We thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his detailed review. Changes are overdue and need to be enacted quickly."

Fourteen private carriers operate the Access-A-Ride program, including eight carriers that operate throughout the city and six regional vendors that are restricted to particular areas. In 2007, the carriers reportedly completed more than 4.4 million trips at a total cost of $282 million.

The DiNapoli audit showed that in several cases, carriers placed vehicles into active service without documenting the required daily inspections had been done. For example, at one carrier 62 percent of the inspection reports were not on file. In cases where the inspections were carried out and properly recorded, the sampled carriers failed to address 44 percent of the identified safety defects before placing the vehicles into service. The report also noted that only 15 of the 79 mechanics employed by the three citywide carriers were “trade certified” as required by the MTA’s contract with its carriers.

The audit recommends multiple improvements including:

  • Requiring carriers to provide written confirmation that vehicles are safe before they are dispatched;
  • Clarifying the agency’s policies on assessing carriers’ liquidated damages;
  • Scheduling periodic evaluations of each carrier’s compliance with contract requirements; and
  • Establishing uniform qualifications for all mechanics that repair Access-A-Ride vehicles.

Click here for a copy of the audit.



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