By Karen Yi, Gothamist.org, January 19, 2023
NJ Transit has six months to start improving its Access Link public ride service foar people with disabilities, after the U.S. attorney’s office found a pattern of late trips and excessively long rides.
Gothamist found a similar trend in a review of more than five years of ridership data provided by NJ Transit, and in interviews with longtime passengers. Gothamist additionally joined a rider with a brain injury for four trips last summer. One time, the driver arrived four hours after the appointment window. During another time, the driver got lost.
NJ Transit agreed to improve measures of its reliability, like how often it picks up riders later than scheduled, in a settlement with the federal government in December. But advocates and riders say if Access Link wants to substantially change, it’ll need far more drivers. Yet the number working for the service has been on the decline over the last few years. Access Link had nearly 700 drivers in 2019 but that number dropped by hundreds during the pandemic, NJ Transit records show. In the last few years, the rate of late trips also ticked up.