By William Tauro
What on earth is going on with the quality of service with the MBTA THE RIDE that it has become so stressful and absolutely humiliating for riders that use this service.
In my own opinion and observations of witnessing horror show situations with THE RIDE and multiple run ins with (Veterans Transportation Services aka V.T.S.), a contractor of the MBTA and boy do I have a story to tell.
According to V.T.S.’s website it reads:
“THE RIDE is administered by the MBTA’s Office for Transportation Access (OTA), and is operated in compliance with the federal government’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
THE RIDE service operates 7 days a week(including holidays), the actual hours of operation parallel the services hours of the MBTA fixed route services for each of the cities and towns of our service area.
VTS has been a provider of THE RIDE service for over 20 years. Its fleet of over 260 vehicles and over 300 drivers provides well over 750,000 rides for our passengers each year.”
Their website also reads:
“Committed to providing safe, quality transportation
Veterans Transportation Services is one of three companies that provide Paratransit service for customers of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), THE RIDE. The service provides door-to-door public transportation to people who cannot use public transit (subways, buses and trains), all or some of the time, because of a physical, cognitive or mental disability”
It also states that:
“The staffs of the driving, reservations, scheduling, dispatch and maintenance, operations and safety and training departments are dedicated to honoring that commitment at the highest possible level. All drivers are trained and certified to provide CPR and First Aid. In addition to extensive on-the-road training drivers attend and must pass a Defensive Driving Class (DDC).”
Well in my opinion, they’re not living up to their expectations of good service and in what they preach.
Well we have to start somewhere, the riders have been quiet for too long about this service and now finally people are complaining that they are tired of it and coming forward.
As president of the Somerville Lion’s Club I see and witness this awful and humiliating treatment to their passengers happening every week. We at the Somerville Lions Club have many members, some of them with disabilities which include vision impairments, low vision and some even totally blind.
These members frequently depend on the MBTA THE RIDE to get to and from doctors appointments, shopping and in just about for everyday living situations including attending weekly meetings of the Somerville Lion’s Club.
Over the past year, I’ve witnessed many of my members who have prearranged transportation for THE RIDE and then left stranded untill 10:30-11:00 PM at night when their scheduled pickup was originally scheduled to be there earlier at 8:00-8:30PM this is totally unacceptable.
Many times I have seen riders left out in the cold, the rain and late at night because THE RIDE has let them down.
After many Lions Club meetings, I’ve called VTS myself and tried to resolve problems of getting our members who have been stranded rides to their homes, but in many occasions it has resulted in arguments with the dispatchers and the dispatcher giving me every reason on earth why they didn’t show up and why no one is available at this time.
Many times other members as well as myself have given stranded members rides on our own so they’re not stuck in front of a restaurant on a dark street until midnight just to realize that THE RIDE will never show up and they have to find their own transportation home putting them in harms way. This is totally unacceptable!
On multiple occasions I have witnessed THE RIDE not showing up, their driver showing up parking outside and not even coming in letting the passengers know that they have arrived then driving away without any warning just to find out later they would put down the famous words “No Show!”
Most recently this past Tuesday night, THE RIDE’s driver who showed up extremely late on his scheduled pickup standing at the front door arrogantly refusing to come into the restaurant to help a blind member navigate through the restaurant around tables and other obstacles to get to the bus that was parked outside. Where is the compassion? More important where is the common sense here?
We spoke with Lena Martinez who answered the phone at THE RIDE’s hotline phone number at the MBTA that’s printed on the side of the bus about their policies and procedures and she informed us that “In a situation like this its the preference of the driver.” She also stated that “If the passenger wasn’t completely satisfied with the driver’s preference that they could call the MBTA and file a complaint to open an investigation.” Again where is the common sense here?
There is absolutely no reason for the contractor for the MBTA THE RIDE to provide such poor and humiliating service like this towards its passengers.
Something has to be done whether it comes from the MBTA, the Governor’s Office or out of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office because the MBTA THE RIDE is contracted to provide transportation to the elderly, the ill, the disabled, low vision to the totally blind and they definitely don’t deserve this kind of bad treatment and are pleading with officials to please fix the system because its broken.