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DiNapoli seeks tougher rules for Access−A−Ride inspections

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has asked the New York City Transit Authority to tighten its inspection process in order to ensure safe rides to riders of the Access−A−Ride service.

“Every MTA ride should be a safe ride,” DiNapoli said. “The MTA needs to improve oversight of Access−A−Ride. New Yorkers deserve the highest safety standards from the transit system. The MTA should step up and make sure safety is the top priority.”

Fourteen private companies are involved in the Access−A−Ride service, including eight carriers that operate throughout the city and six regionally, and others that are restricted to particular areas. In 2007, the carriers reportedly completed more than 4.4 million trips at a cost of $282 million.

Access−A−Ride is a service for people unable to use buses and subways because of disabilities or other reasons.

DiNapoli’s office said an audit showed that in several cases, carriers placed vehicles into active service without documenting the required daily inspections that had been completed. For example, at one carrier, 62 percent of the inspection reports were not on file.

In cases where the inspections were carried out and properly recorded, the sampled carriers failed to address 44 percent of the identified safety defects before putting the vehicles into service.

The report also noted that only 15 of the 79 mechanics employed by the three citywide carriers were “trade−certified” as required by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s contract with the carriers.

DiNapoli made a number of recommendations, including:

• requiring carriers to provide written confirmations that vehicles are safe before they are dispatched

• scheduling periodic evaluations of each carrier’s compliance with contract requirements and

• establishing uniform qualifications for all mechanics who repair Access−A−Ride vehicles

Charles Seaton, a spokesman for the Transit Authority, of which Access−A−Ride is a part, said: “It is our aim to provide the safest possible ride for all our passengers. We accept the recommendations from the comptroller and we are complying with them.”

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 136.

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