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MTA Announces E-Hail Pilot Expansion as Access-A-Ride Reaches Record Customer Satisfaction and Trips Booked

New York City Transit
Updated May 22, 2024 2:30 p.m.

Pilot Phase 3 Provides More Flexible Transportation Options to Customers who Depend on Access-A-Ride and E-Hail Services


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board today voted to approve the next phase of its E-Hail Pilot Program scheduled to begin on July 1, 2024, which will apply lessons from Phase 1 and Phase 2 to further improve the program. E-Hail is an on-demand service that offers participating Access-A-Ride (AAR) customers the opportunity to book trips in real-time through five taxi or for-hire vehicle services. The program was created to serve as a transportation option beyond the MTA’s existing paratransit service, which continues to reach historic highs in ridership and performance.


Phase 3 of this program will start with the 1,600 customers currently in Phase 2 and increase the per-trip subsidy to $60 per e-hail trip. The upfront customer co-pay for each program is $4 and will be fully applied to the cost of the trip, allowing customers to take up to a $64 trip before paying any additional cost. Increasing the per trip subsidy will enable customers to travel to more destinations with e-hail and potentially yield efficiencies and improved customer satisfaction. 


In Phase 3, customers will be sorted into two groups based on their e-hail and traditional AAR usage: a group with up to 25 subsidized e-hail trips per month, and a group with 40 subsidized e-hail trips per month. For all customers, Access-A-Ride will continue to provide service with no monthly limits or per trip costs beyond the $2.90 fare.


“The latest E-Hail pilot program improves on the previous iteration of E-Hail, particularly for customers traveling far distances between boroughs,” said MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo. “E-Hail Phase 3 will allow us to better evaluate how Paratransit customers choose between different trip options, and builds off the major progress we have made with on-time performance and customer satisfaction across the entire Paratransit system.”


“We’ve learned a lot from E-Hail Phase 2, and one of the things we heard loud and clear from customers is that the program would be more beneficial if they could travel further on each trip,” said New York City Transit Acting Vice President of Paratransit Rachel Cohen. “Phase 3 will allow for that and keep reasonable monthly trip limits in place, so we can continue to best meet our customers’ needs while managing our budget and continuing to invest our service for our more than 150,000 total AAR customers.”  


“I am excited that Phase 3 is finally here,” said MTA Advisory Committee for Transit Accessibility Chair Gian Pedulla. “The advocates and riders I talk to who use Access-A-Ride agree this is a meaningful step forward in giving us an improved level of access. I want to thank the paratransit team, including Chris Pangilinan, for engaging the community and for their commitment to continuing to improve the service.”


“The proposed Phase 3 of the E-Hail pilot program is undoubtedly a step in the right direction,” said MTA Advisory Committee for Transit Accessibility and Access-A-Ride Paratransit Advisory Committee Member Sharada Veerubhotla. “It continues to provide great flexibility to a group of riders with the subsidies provided by the MTA. In launching this phase, MTA should be commended for seeking advocate suggestions and making a good-faith effort to incorporate them. As an advocate, I believe it is critical that we continue to work on a multi-tiered approach in addressing the varied travel needs of individuals with disabilities.”


E-hail trips will continue to be provided by Uber, Arro, Corporate Transportation Group (CTG), Lyft and the Drivers Cooperative.


Phase 2, which began in Fall 2023, demonstrated that e-hail could continue to provide value for customers while reining in the unsustainable costs seen in Phase 1. The monthly subsidy allocations implemented last August reduced e-hail costs by more than 50% per participant and enabled the MTA to expand the benefits to more customers. The approach reflects best practices with respect to premium on-demand services for paratransit eligible customers offered by other transportation providers including San Francisco, Boston and Las Vegas. 


In August, the MTA will evaluate the budget impacts of Phase 3 and invite up to an additional 800 customers to join this phase, provided costs stay within projected estimates.


The e-hail expansion comes in the context of historically high demand and performance on traditional AAR service. Earlier this year, Access-A-Ride set an all-time record for booked trips for a seven-day period. Between Friday, March 8 and Thursday, March 14, Access-A-Ride recorded a record 213,512 booked trips. The record high included 36,469 booked trips for Wednesday, March 13 alone. The booked trips high builds on a strong 2023 in which Access-A-Ride saw on-time performance at an all-time high and wait times plummet. Booked trips on an average weekday have increased from 31,500 per day to 33,800 per day in March. 


Customer satisfaction remains high even as ridership continues to exceed pre-COVID levels, with 90% of trips in the 20-minute on-time performance window, set last year to exceed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Further, customers are continuing to leverage the MyAAR platform to book and track their trips, improving customer experience with thousands of trips booked by the app each day.