Metropolitan Transportation Authority

New York City Transit: Access-A-Ride Safety Issues

Paratransit is a flexible transportation service that is generally provided to disabled persons. New York City Transit (Transit) provides paratransit services through its Access-A-Ride program. The services are provided by 14 private carriers under contracts with Transit. The carriers generally use mini-buses equipped with a wheelchair lift.

We audited selected aspects of the Access-A-Ride program relating to vehicle maintenance and safety. We found that safety defects on the paratransit vehicles were not always properly reported and promptly repaired by the contracted carriers, and as a result, vehicles could be put into passenger service with safety defects. For example, drivers of paratransit vehicles are supposed to inspect their vehicles prior to their dispatch and again at the end of the work day. However, we found indications these daily inspections might not always be performed. The carriers are also supposed to review the drivers’ inspection reports daily, address any defects noted in the reports, and provide written confirmation that the defects have been addressed before the vehicles are put back into service. However, when we reviewed a sample of inspection reports at four carriers, we found no indication actions were taken to address 27 of the 61 potential safety defects listed on the reports.

We also examined whether the mechanics who work on the vehicles were properly qualified. The contracts with the eight larger carriers require that their mechanics be “trade certified.” However, we found documentation supporting trade certification in the personnel files of only 15 of the 79 mechanics at the three larger carriers in our sample. We made a number of recommendations for strengthening Transit’s oversight of its paratransit carriers’ vehicle maintenance and safety practices.

For a complete copy of Report 2007-S-127 click here.