Yellow cabs with trained drivers now can pick up passengers who otherwise would use notoriously slow Access-a-Ride buses. From foreclosures on taxi medallions to a congestion surcharge in Manhattan that yellow-cab operators say could devastate their business, the taxi industry has had no shortage of bad news in recent months. But there has been one upbeat development: A chunk of the money the state spends on its Access-a-Ride program, which provides transportation for people with disabilities, now will go to yellow and green cabs.
New York City Transit has awarded a three-year, $116.5 million contract to Curb Mobility, which operates the credit-card-payment and e-hailing technology for about 7,000 yellow cabs and 3,000 green cabs. As a result, Curb is routing requests from Access-a-Ride customers to taxis in its network that are driven by cabbies trained to serve people with disabilities. The vast majority of those riders do not require wheelchair-accessible cars.
Curb had been part of a pilot program the MTA ran beginning in October 2017 to see whether taxis could provide a cheaper, faster and more user-friendly addition to the agency’s paratransit program. Traditionally, the options have been limited to black-car and livery companies providing a brokered car service and dedicated contractors operating the MTA’s blue-and-white Access-a-Ride buses, which are known for arriving late and taking circuitous trips to riders’ destinations. Curb is now part of the brokered service.
The contract, which went into effect March 1, marks the first time that taxis have had an established role in the program, which serves about 150,000 New Yorkers. The fare, paid by the MTA, will average about $32 per trip, which is a savings of more than half of what the state pays for Access-a-Ride.
- Taxis get an additional source of income in Access to survive.