BY JOE MARVILLI
As you age, transportation becomes one of the biggest challenges, especially if you do not drive. However, these restrictions do not mean you are out of luck.
In a city as bustling as New York, it is understandable that many seniors would not want to stay home all day. Fortunately, there are many transportation options available to fit their needs, allowing them to explore the Borough with ease.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the biggest operator of public transportation in New York City. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that it offers the most senior-ready services to help them get around.
According to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, the agency is working to increase its number of fully accessible subway stations from 82 to 100 by 2020. The focus will be on key stations, which are locations with high riderships or important transfer points. In early May, the MTA cut the ribbon on three elevators at one of these locations, the Forest Hills-71st Avenue stop.
While the subway is moving towards improved accessibility, additional changes are not needed for the City’s bus fleet.
“Every single one of our buses is fully accessible,” Ortiz said.
The MTA also offers reduced fare MetroCards, with a price that is half of the base fare. In this case, the reduced fare is $1.25 per ride. These cards are available for customers who are 65 years of age or older or who have a qualifying disability. They are also personalized, with your name and photograph engrained in the MetroCard. Reduced fare cards can be used at any time for the subway or local buses. The reduced fare does not apply to express buses, the Long Island Rail Road or the Metro-North Railroad during weekday rush hours.
Besides helping older citizens on the standard public transit, the MTA also has Access-A-Ride. This service provides transportation for people with disabilities who are unable to use the bus or subway for their trips. Access-A-Ride is a shared, door-to-door system, picking up qualifying residents 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, including holidays. The fare does not cost any more than the full-cost for a mass transit trip. One paying guest per trip may also accompany the customer.
While Access-A-Ride is not exclusively for seniors, a good portion of their ridership is older, as that is when mobility becomes an issue for some. Although this is a City service, Ortiz said that the Access-A-Ride will take customers outside of the five boroughs if required.
“If they need to go somewhere in Nassau, they would be accommodated,” he said.
To apply for Access-A-Ride, visit www.mta.nyc.ny.us/nyct/paratran/guide.htm. To arrange a trip, call the Paratransit Command Center at (877) 337-2017 or (718) 393-4999.
Not every service available for seniors comes directly from the City. The Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee, a nonprofit social service organization, also has a senior transportation program in place.
The HANAC East West Connection Senior Transportation Program offers transportation for Queens’ older citizens through the Borough’s northern communities. Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, Corona, College Point, Whitestone and Flushing are all qualifying neighborhoods.
The program’s VAN service provides group transportation to senior centers, group shopping treks and day trips. Its CAR service is dedicated to private transportation to medical appointments for physically handicapped or extremely frail seniors.
There are more than 1,000 registered clients in the program, which is funded by the Dept. for the Aging and the City Council. For more information about HANAC’s senior transportation program, call (718) 267-6910.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.