Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Snow Creates Challenges for Wheelchair User's Access-A-Ride Commute

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TWC News: Snow Creates Challenges for Wheelchair User's Access-A-Ride Commute
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Tough commutes in the wintry mess aren't limited to the subways, buses and trains. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report on the challenges faced in the snow by a wheelchair user who depends on Access-A-Ride.

Milagros Franco is like millions of other New Yorkers, just trying to get to work on time. But as a wheelchair user who relies on Access-A-Ride, her commutes can be especially challenging in the winter.

On Wednesday, snow and slush twice kept her from boarding the bus that takes her to work in Brooklyn.

After a third try, she was strapped in and ready to go, 18 minutes after her 9:57 a.m. pickup time.

"I hate this winter," Franco said. "The snow makes it much more challenging in terms of getting it into the vehicle."

She grumbles about the MTA's Access-A-Ride service for riders with disabilities, calling it "Stress-A-Ride."

"There are just days where they just don't show up, and there's no excuse for not showing up," she says.

In her case, though, she says it beats other forms of transportation, even if it can be a bumpy ride.

"The subways and buses, you have to deal with the people falling on top of you because they don't see you because you're low down," she says. "So it's a tradeoff."

It's still $2.50 a ride, though, even if the service is a big money-loser for the MTA.

On Wednesday, when more than 6,300 riders called in to cancel trips, Franco said her mode of transportation was definitely the way to go.

"I feel bad for the people walking around because you guys run the risk of falling," she said. "But these are the days where I'm glad I'm in a wheelchair, because I don't run the risk of falling. The worst that can happen to me is that my chair loses traction and my wheels slide."

By the time she got to Brooklyn, she was ready to roll in to work, with enough time to grab a coffee first.

Even after the rough start to her commute, Franco made it into work in about 40 minutes, or 15 minutes later than usual. That, she said, isn't so bad on a day when so many New Yorkers had commuting headaches of their own.

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