MTA unveils first electric vehicles to join Access-A-Ride paratransit fleet

April 16, 2024
The pilot includes 15 electric vans and costs approximately $3 million.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has unveiled the first electric vehicles to join the Access-A-Ride paratransit fleet. The $3 million pilot includes 15 electric vans that will be used throughout New York City’s five boroughs.  

“Just in time for Earth Day, paratransit is getting greener in another example of our commitment to reduce the emissions by updating facilities, transitioning fleets and using energy efficiently,” said MTA New York City (NYC) Transit President Richard Davey. “Access-A-Ride customers demanded reliable service that gets them where they needed to go faster and our paratransit team continues to deliver with improved on-time performance and lower wait times.” 

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve the Access-A-Ride experience while promoting the MTA’s values, including sustainability,” said MTA Chief Accessibility Officer and Senior Advisor Quemuel Arroyo. “Paratransit regularly provides more than 200,000 trips a week and the rollout of our first electric vehicle will help us achieve a greener experience for our customers and the community.”  

In March, Access-A-Ride set an all-time record for booked trips for a seven-day period. Between March 8 and March 14, Access-A-Ride recorded a record 213,512 booked trips. The record high included 36,469 booked trips for 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.  

Between July 2023 and March 2024, MTA paratransit cut its call answer times from 50 seconds down to 15. In October 2023, 20 new Ford E-450 vans joined the Access-A-Ride fleet, including one van testing a new wheelchair securement system, which includes an improved yellow visual design to quickly and safely secure customers using wheelchairs, another step towards modernizing the system and making it more customer friendly. 

“Between this electric vehicle and the wheelchair securement system we debuted last year, our customers are seeing constant improvements being made to Access-A-Ride and that shows in the growth of our customer satisfaction, which hit a record high of 79 percent in March 2024, as ridership grew 15.3 percent compared to March 2023, with most days above pre-COVID-19 levels,” said NYC Transit Vice President of Paratransit Chris Pangilinan.  

“Access-A-Ride has come a long way since I started using it years ago. Not only do I want to acknowledge this wonderful new vehicle, the real story is the MTA’s commitment to ensure every aspect of Access-A-Ride services improves,” said MTA Paratransit Advisory Committee Chair RueZalia Watkins. “This vehicle is also symbolic of the beginning, or perhaps the continuation of, a movement to improve services so all of our customers are happy, safe, content and free to enjoy their lives like everyone else.”