Advocates for disabled call to end Access-A-Ride strike

BROOKLYN - Hundreds of riders have been left stranded as day three of the Access-A-Ride strike concluded.

The company provides rides to passengers who cannot use mass transit for health reasons. Advocates for the disabled are calling for an end to the strike, saying it has been a catastrophe for many riders.

?This strike has further disabled people who already have disabilities,? Michael Harris, of the Disabled Riders Coalition, said. Harris said problems have been on the rise since Monday when some of the drivers walked out.

Flatbush resident Roy Harris said that some of the people who were stranded tried to get drivers who weren?t on strike to give them a ride, but that is not allowed. He was not affected by the strike and his driver picked him up as usual. The MTA is in charge of Access-A-Ride, and they admit that as many as one in four passengers were turned away on Tuesday.

However, the MTA said that they didn?t have to deny a ride to anyone on Wednesday, and that options are available for those without drivers. But critics say the city should have better publicized its contingency plan, because many riders do not know their options.

?The city should step up, say it is willing help, that it wants to offer resources,? Harris said.

Harris said the blame for the strike lies with both the bosses and the striking workers. He said both sides were aware of the problems but neither side worked fast enough to come to a solution.

In all, 8,000 Access-A-Ride drivers and mechanics are off the job right now. They are demanding new contracts with better health care and wages.

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