Luis Alvarez, Bronx Community College

I qualify for this service because of my visual disability and cognitive disability. Without Access-a-Ride I would not be able to travel from home to school. Although it is a crucial service in my life, it is not an accessible service. From my experience, people that book the rides are not well-trained; I have been dropped off in the wrong address once before already. I traveled to BK (I’m from the BX) and after being stranded there for the first 45min (the time it took just to rebook the trip) I still had to wait another 2 hours for a vehicle to be dispatched to finally be picked up.

Approximately 1 year ago while in school, I had another incident. It was the day of the big snowstorm and AAR is not well equipped to handle weather changes or extremes, they do not communicate well. They do not notify when they are outside or if they’re running late. I called them and they were busy. Two hours passed and had 1% battery on my phone. My phone died and I didn’t know what to do. Public Safety on campus said I had to wait and they’d wait with me or I could take a train, but due to my cognitive disability I cannot remember things well, especially when I’m nervous or anxious, like this situation with all my adrenaline pumping I don’t know what’s going on. I didn’t want to wait any longer! Mind you they are two hours late for the pickup- it was at 6, and I was still on campus at 8. So, against my better judgement, I decided to take the train. I started walking to the train- and I’m a big person, so on top of my visual disability I have a physical disability- I am walking down and I fall and slide down the sidewalk. My knees were scraped. When I finally arrive at the train stop I try to walk up the stairs, because it does not have an elevator or escalator, and I fell down again. I call AAR when I get home, and then they say I was written up as a “no-show” because they were out there but I was not. I got written up! I was anxious I’d lose my AAR privileges.

Another instance: I book my ride for 9 am because I have class at 11am and pickup for 6pm. Sometimes they do not pick me up until 12:30 and I miss my class! Numerous times I have missed class or I am late and it just does need to change. You pick a pick-up and drop-off location and they are NOT flexible with this. I am a student, a disabled student, so I need to go to tutoring a lot and I need to stay a little longer, lectures sometimes run short, ETC., so sometimes I miss my pickup time and I call and they say there is nothing they can do. I understand their standpoint but they need to be more flexible with students. I am not at the movies or at a bar, I am literally pursuing my education and betterment and I should not be punished for that. We need a better program for disabled students!