Seniors wail when Access-A-Ride fails • Brooklyn Paper

Seniors wail when Access-A-Ride fails

To the editor,

I am glad that the Transit Authority is planning to increase subway service. Maybe, someday, they may even do something about our terrible bus service. However, there is another serious travel problem that no one seems to care about except its riders: “Access-A-Ride.”

Hundreds of senior citizens and physically disabled New Yorkers are unable to use busses nor climb subway stairs. Those who can afford to pay for them may use car services or taxicabs. Many others depend upon Access-A-Ride vans, equipped with lifts for wheelchairs and walkers, to get them to doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, and other needed medical services, as well as to senior centers and other clubs and organizations that provide hot meals, health care and exercise, socialization and entertainment.

I am a senior citizen, a member of Council Center on Quentin Road in Brooklyn. I take the bus to the center, but many of my friends use Access-A-Ride. I have a friend who lives about 10 minutes away from the center, but, because of severe arthritis, has to depend upon Access-A-Ride. Twice in the last two weeks she arrived an hour late for her acting class because Access-A-Ride picked her up late. Last Thursday, after classes and lunch, she went downstairs around 3 o’clock to await a promised 3:30 pick-up by Access-A-Ride to take her home. I came downstairs at 4:20, after other activities, just as the center was about to close. I was shocked to see my friend sitting outside on her walker trying to call the dispatcher to find out where her van was. First she was told it would arrive in 10 minutes, then another 10 minutes. Every other member had left or been picked up. The only one there was an employee who has to stay until every member has gone safely home. My friend’s van finally showed up at 4:50. By then, she was crying and wondering if she should come back to the center anymore or just give up and stay confined to her house.

I don’t know if there is a shortage of drivers or vans or both. I do know that many of the drivers just don’t know their way around. I have ridden with friends and seen drivers get hopelessly lost in Brooklyn or Manhattan. Many vans are now equipped with Global Positioning Devices, but the drivers don’t know how to use them. Many dispatchers, the people who plan the drivers’ routes, don’t seem to know the streets in Brooklyn or Manhattan and have drivers picking up and dropping off passengers at disparate locations that severely lengthen the amount of time riders spend on the van, and cause the drivers to frequently be late for their pick-ups and passengers to be late for doctor’s appointments and classes. There are probably enough passengers living near each other in Brooklyn to fill a van rapidly without making a van operator drive his passengers all over Brooklyn or Manhattan.

I would like to suggest that every dispatcher and driver be given extensive training in getting around in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and in reading and understanding the GPS. Also, every dispatcher should know, at all times, where every driver and van is located. Extra vans and drivers should be on call in case a driver is running very late for a pick-up. I do not believe that anybody should have to wait an hour-and-a -half for an Access-A-Ride pick-up, nor that anybody should be forced to stay home because he or she can’t get the transportation they are entitled to and desperately need.

Elaine Kirsch


Let some park there

To the editor,

In response to Allen Rosen, you seem to have left out the Fire Department and educators as well, who also on the surface may seem to take liberties with parking. You are making a simplistic argument without understanding the nature of these essential public services. Most people commute via efficient public transportation from the outer boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey or upstate to their offices in Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn because the transportation system is intentionally set up that way since the highest concentration of employment is centrally located in commercial or office zoning.

Public services, i.e., police, fire, educators are, by nature, community-based services and many times not located near efficient public transportation, or if used, would result in unrealistic travel times of many hours in just one direction with the combinations of buses, trains and walking required. While most private sector jobs are somewhat flexible in their hours, meaning if you come in 15 minutes late because of a train delay, you can make it up by staying 15 minutes later at the end of the day or taking 15-minute less lunch. Police and fire officials, and educators have no such luxuries. Being essential services, they must be at their posts at the designated times, no excuses, because countless other persons rely on their physical presence, for the same reason they can’t generally strike like other workers.

Speaking specifically for police officers, their jobs may require travel to “details” (assignments) in other precincts or even other boroughs, that they are unaware of until the roll call of that days’ shift. The NYPD does not always have resources (cars) or provide transportation to these assignments, and time limits are given for arrival, so using one’s personal car and car pooling officers is common and necessary. How do you plan to use public transportation if you live on Long Island, are assigned to a Staten Island precinct, are told upon arrival in Staten Island you now have to go to a detail in Queens, which when over, you have to return to Staten Island before you sign out and go home to Long Island? Or realize an officer can be transferred anywhere in the five boroughs at the discretion of the Department at any time. Most “regular” people pick a place to live and find a job within a reasonable commute or find the job and then their residence within a reasonable commute. Police officers never have that certainty.

You’ll give the car dealers a pass, probably the curb cutters also. I’m guessing the homeowners who park their cars on their lawns are okay, you didn’t mention them. How about private security like the Shomrim, or those with VAS plates? They park on sidewalks just about everywhere. By singling out, “Why are the police above the law?” you imply there is this intentional conspiratorial arrogance on behalf of the Department to thumb their nose at the public when all they are trying to do is the job they are asked to do, which is keep you safe in a very, very crowded city in the most resourceful way they can.

Focus your anger on the real bad guys.Eric Sommer


When school is cruel

To the editor,

It’s always nice seeing our children showing off their skills with bright colored photo-ops in newspapers. The public sees this and thinks that wonderful things are taking place in the schools being shown. How far from the truth this is.

A case in point is your showing the students of David A. Boody, IS 228, in full costume, dancing in the school auditorium. The public thinks that the principal is performing wonders there and that everything is serene.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Since coming to the school, the principal had an agenda to get rid of the most experienced teachers there. Those who were teaching there — out of license, but receiving satisfactory reviews from former administrators — were soon shown the door. Many of these hard-working teachers were demoted to the ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve) System and eventually sent to other schools on a week by week basis. In other words, they were relegated to substitute status. Many other teachers were in the building for 20 years or more. He could not get rid of these people, so instead he made them teach other subjects that they were unfamiliar with. In that way, he could soon observe them and claim that they weren’t up to task and therefore they would be subjected to an unfavorable rating at the end of the school year.

Where was the UFT while all this was occurring? As usual, they were out to lunch as they have been with other matters during the years.

All is certainly not a bed of roses at 228 as the picture in the newspaper tries to depict. Other teachers were forced out by forced retirement. Imagine sending a list around at the end of June to ask you if you’re retiring? How unprofessional could you be?

I taught at 228 years ago, when teaching there really meant something.Ed Greenspan

Sheepshead Bay

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