A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 02, 2019
Stress-A-Ride (Access-A-Ride nickname)

New York City’s “Access-A-Ride” (AAR) program for people with disabilities began in 1991, after passage of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Disabled customers call to be picked up.

Access-A-Ride had so many problems that users called it “Stress-A-Ride.” The AAR drivers often got lost, or arrived late, or didn’t arrive at all.

“‘It’s not Access-A-Ride,’ said one driver. ‘It’s A-Stress-A-Ride,’” the New York (NY) Daily News printed on February 23, 2003.

Wikipedia: Accessibility of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
The New York City Transit Authority also operates paratransit services branded as Access-A-Ride (AAR) for disabled customers who cannot use regular bus or subway service in New York City, and nearby areas in Nassau and Westchester counties, within MTA’s three-quarter mile service area. AAR is available at all times. In addition, AAR has dedicated pickup locations around the city.

The paratransit system began as a $5 million pilot program following the passage of the ADA law. The services are contracted to private companies. In 1993, because many disabled riders were being refused service in violation of the ADA, the MTA announced an expansion of the program. The service was carrying 300,000 yearly riders back then. In 1998, in response to a discrimination lawsuit, the Access-A-Ride program underwent another expansion. At the time, despite having 1 million annual customers the program only had 300 vehicles and Access-A-Ride journeys often took several hours, while only twenty-six subway stations were ADA-accessible.

The paratransit system has come under scrutiny by the media for being unwieldy: rides must be booked 24 to 48 hours in advance; it is costly to operate; and vehicles often show up late or fail to show up at all.

23 February 2003, Daily News (New York, NY), “A Hell on Wheels for City’s Disabled: MTA’s Access-A-Ride gives ‘em the 5-boro runaround” by Greg B. Smith, pg. 4, col. 3:
As a result, vans pull up to the curb hours late - or fail to show up at all. Exhausted passengers are carted around New York for hours. Too often, drivers get lost - and have been known to ask blind passengers for directions.

“It’s not Access-A-Ride,” said one driver. “It’s A-Stress-A-Ride.”

Fern Ellen Cohen
@obilon I’m never ready for the snow.....supposed to book “stress-a-ride” for tomorrow...hahaha
10:27 AM - 1 Mar 2009

My Aries Moon Has Time 🧁 🌺
still not here yet, this is why i call them “stress a ride” UGH!!!
3:43 PM - 6 May 2009

Debbie Hoc Rockower
Stress A Ride finally showed up 30 min late and now I will probably be late for work. Argh!
7:45 AM - 15 Sep 2009

Brooklyn (NY) Paper
May 22, 2015 / Brooklyn news / Brighton Beach
About 100 of the paratransit program’s users showed up for a town hall meeting organized by Councilman Chaim Deutsch in Brighton Beach on May 18 to air their grievances about “Stress-A-Ride,” as one user referred to it.

Long wait times, clueless dispatchers, circuitous routes on shared rides, and verbally abusive drivers were among the most common complaints. One Bay Ridge resident likened her experience with a broker driver several weeks ago to a kidnapping.

MARCH 14, 2017 AT 6:27 PM
For the city’s disabled and elderly “Access-A-Ride” is a literal lifeline, but with many of its users calling it Stress-A-Ride, a damning new report says it’s only going to get worse. We have the details.

18 May 2017, New York (NY) Times, “Only Thing Worse than the Subway? Not Being Able to Ride It” by Jim Dwyer, (online):
Mr. Russianoff, 63, is able to work from his home in Park Slope most days, though he also goes into the Straphangers office near City Hall. He travels by paratransit to Sheepshead Bay for speech and physical therapy.

“The first two appointments, I arrived too late to have therapy,” Mr. Russianoff said. “I don’t think of myself as a worrywart — maybe a little anxious at times — but I’m always thinking ahead, what happens if I am late?”

The nickname for Access-A-Ride is “Stress-A-Ride,” he said.

Access-A-Ride or ‘Stress-A-Ride?’ MTA Service Needs Overhaul, Users Say
By Greis Torres, Nuha Dolby, Darius Jankauskas and Jeanmarie Evelly | August 21, 2018
Shain Anderson, a community organizer with the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY), says AAR’s many flaws can have significant, negative consequences for its users.

“You have users that have to wait in some cases for hours to get where they need to go. We have examples where people have missed appointments to see friends. We have examples of people missing funerals,” he says. “The big issue is that AAR is not simply reliable. They call it ‘Stress-A-Ride’ for a reason.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Saturday, February 02, 2019 • Permalink