How to Apply or Recertify for Access-A-Ride

Becoming A Paratransit Customer

The MTA's Paratransit Access-A-Ride services are available to individuals who are proven to have needs that match the ADA's requirements. To find out whether you qualify for Paratransit services, please follow this process: 

  1. Tell us about you: Complete our online "About You" form or call us to schedule an appointment at an assessment center, to determine whether you are eligible for AAR services.

    Note: After completing this form you will be mailed information within one week on your scheduled in-person functional assessment to determine your eligibility.    

  2. Complete the application form. After completing step 1 above, you will be mailed an AAR application form.
  3. Attend your physical assessmentIf desired, a Paratransit ride can be scheduled to and from your assessment.
  4. A decision on your qualification will be mailed to you. If you are eligible, all necessary information for booking rides on AAR will be included.

It begins with a call

Whether you are applying or recertifying for Access-A-Ride (AAR), call (877) 377-2017 (toll-free for area codes 212, 929, 718, 347, 516, 631, 646, 914, 917, 332 and 845) or 718-393-4999 (from other area codes). Persons who are deaf/hard of hearing call through the relay. Telephonic interpretation service is also provided in many languages. When connected to AAR, you may press “1” for English and then “1” again for Eligibility.  If “1” is not pressed, callers will hear choices in each of the respective languages: For Spanish, press “2.” For Russian, Chinese, French Creole or Korean, press “3.” For all other languages, press “4.” Eligibility staff are available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Except for those with temporary eligibility, recertifying customers receive a notice in the mail about the recertification process. If you do not receive the notice, please call Eligibility staff six weeks before the expiration date on your AAR identification to begin the recertification process.

Those who agree to visit an assessment center will be told that they will receive an application and a letter providing the date, time and location of their appointment including instructions for scheduling a round-trip visit to the assessment center. The documents should arrive in about five days.

Call us if you do not receive these documents.

There is no fare charged for the trip to and from the assessment center.

Need Help?

Please inform Eligibility staff if you will need assistance in a language other than English when you visit the assessment center. Also inform staff if you need to travel with a Personal Care Attendant (PCA). A PCA may be a relative, spouse, friend or professional attendant. The PCA also rides free of charge.

Decisions

A decision will be made about your eligibility for the service within 21 days after your visit to the assessment center. If you are denied eligibility or given conditional eligibility, you have a right to appeal the eligibility decision within 60 days of notification. An appeal form and instructions are included with the notification letter.

Assessment Process

Applicants and recertifying customers are required to go to an assessment center, as part of the eligibility determination process. Based on availability, the assessment will be conducted at a center located in the applicant’s or recertifying customer’s borough of residence or within the five boroughs of NYC.

This procedure enables AAR to assign an appropriate eligibility status to applicants more quickly and objectively.

Except for customers who have temporary conditions, those found eligible will only have to reapply every five years.

At the Assessment Center

Both AAR applicants and recertifying customers will have a personal interview with a healthcare professional and undergo functional testing as appropriate.

Following your visit to the assessment center, a certifier will send an assessment report to MTA New York City Transit Eligibility staff. This report has information that may not have been noted on your application and/or was missing from your doctor’s note. It also provides a clearer picture of your travel ability.

Eligibility Determination

As previously stated, the assessment report enables NYC Transit Eligibility staff to assign an appropriate eligibility status to applicants and customers being recertified.

Below is a list of the eligibility categories:

  1. Full
  2. Conditional
  3. Continual
  4. Full Temporary
  5. Conditional Temporary
  6. Ineligible

Continual Eligibility

Continual eligibility will be considered for individuals who cannot use NYC Transit buses or subway service under any circumstances and/or whose disability is unlikely to improve and determined likely to become more severe.

Customers who have continual eligibility will not need to be recertified every five years. Instead, these customers will be sent a form requesting an update of their information every five years.

Conditional Eligibility

Those determined conditionally eligible for AAR may only travel by AAR when the conditions noted on their AAR MetroCard/ ID apply.

Please note: All NYC Transit buses are wheelchair-lift equipped or have ramps.

Conditional Eligibility Categories

  • Stairs Restricted: Customer is eligible to travel by AAR only when the trip requires the use of an inaccessible subway station.
  • Extreme Cold: Customer is eligible to travel by AAR only when the temperature is forecast to be 39°F or below on the day of travel.
  • Extreme Heat: Customer is eligible to travel by AAR only when the temperature is forecast to be 90°F or above on the day of travel.
  • Extreme Cold & Stairs Restricted: Customer is eligible to travel by AAR: (1) when the temperature is forecast to be 39° For below on the day of travel, or (2) when the trip requires the use of an inaccessible subway station.
  • Extreme Heat & Stairs Restricted: Customer is eligible to travel by AAR: (1) when the temperature is forecast to be 90° For above on the day of travel, or (2) when the trip requires the use of an inaccessible subway station.

NYC Transit will check the National Weather Service website to determine when weather conditions apply.

If a customer has weather-related eligibility, environmental barriers to travel (such as humidity, snow and icy streets) will be taken into consideration when trips are scheduled.

Unfamiliar Places (Navigational): Customer is eligible to travel by AAR only when she/he is unfamiliar with bus and/or subway routes to the trip destination due to a cognitive or visual impairment. The customer may not use AAR for routes with which she/he is familiar.

Distance: Customer is eligible for all trips that require her/him to travel to a bus stop or subway station that is more than the number of blocks she/he has been determined able to travel: 1-2, 3-4, or 5 or more blocks.

Please note: Customers may have more than one eligibility category.

Feeder Service

“Feeder service” is a trip that is made partly by Paratransit and partly by fixed-route bus or subway. At present, customers with conditional eligibility who are able to walk or wheel short distances (1-2, 3-4 or 5 or more blocks) begin their feeder service trip on AAR and then transfer to a fixed-route bus. The bus takes them to a bus stop. From there, they walk or wheel to their ultimate destination without exceeding their travel limitations.

Feeder Service is a one-fare payment trip.

Appeals

If you are denied eligibility or given conditional eligibility, you have a right to appeal the decision within 60 days of notification. An appeal form and instructions are included with the notification letter. Appeals may be in writing or in person.

If you want to make an appeal to your eligibility determination complete our Access-A-Ride eligibility appeal form.

Personal Care Attendant (PCA)

Some of our customers require the assistance of a PCA. A PCA is someone who regularly assists the customer. When the customer travels, the PCA performs personal duties that drivers are not allowed to do. Some of these duties may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Guiding a child or adult with an intellectual or developmental disability
  2. Assisting a customer diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia
  3. Directing a customer who is unable to travel independently
  4. Calming a customer who tends to become upset in unexpected situations
  5. Preventing a customer from leaving her/his seat or opening a door when the vehicle is in motion and/or;
  6. Assisting a customer with managing schedule and trip commitments in order to prevent excessive missed trips and potential suspensions of AAR service

We strongly suggest that customers who are authorized to travel with a PCA, and who need a PCA to perform some of the duties mentioned previously, always travel with a PCA on Paratransit trips. The customer's AAR MetroCard/ID will note “YES” next to Personal Care Attendant. Please tell a reservationist when a PCA will be traveling with you. Remember: AAR does not have staff to monitor or supervise its customers.

An AAR vehicle is just like a city bus, except that it transports its customers door-to-door. If you think it's unsafe to let your family member or the individual you assist travel alone on a fixed-route bus or subway, you should not let her/him travel alone on AAR.

Visitors' Information

MTA New York City Transit welcomes the opportunity to provide AAR Paratransit service to eligible visitors to New York City. In advance of your visit to our city, you must send NYC Transit a copy of your Paratransit ID card (front and back) or other equivalent Paratransit eligibility documentation issued by the city or town in which you reside. If you don't have these documents, you must submit proof of residency outside New York City and proof of disability. A legible, dated letter noting your disability and signed by a doctor or rehabilitation professional is acceptable proof. In addition, we need the following information:

  1. Name, birth date, and home address as well as telephone, cell phone and business telephone number/s
  2. Your address and telephone number in New York City (including cross streets)
  3. Emergency contact (name and telephone numbers) in New York City
  4. Whether you will travel with a Personal Care Attendant (PCA), a guest, or both
  5. If you use a service animal
  6. If you use a cane, walker, crutches, wheelchair, scooter or other equipment
  7. If you need the driver to call out your name when the vehicle arrives, because of a visual impairment
  8. If you need information in large print, Braille or recorded format