FERRIER FILES: Nashville neighbors with disabilities say Access Ride is failing them
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —
Kristy Satterfeld is legally blind so she qualifies for access ride, a van service for people who cannot board a bus on a fixed route.
Danny Mosley is wheelchair bound. The retired water department worker has suffered a variety of health challenges.
James Brown is totally blind. Nevertheless he has held down a job as a safety specialist with TDOT for the past 14 years.
Three very different people with different disabilities and the same complaint. They say Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Access Ride is failing them too often.
“I'm probably late for work one day out of 10," James Brown said. "The blind population is 70 percent unemployed for a population like ours. It’s very important to get to work on time and do everything we do to get to work on time."
Satterfeld also works, and also finds herself struggling to stay punctual.
"I've spent $100 or so in the past couple of months for Lyft when it didn't show up," Satterfield said. "I don't have the money to do that. Access Ride needs to get its act together, and someone has to be accountable."
That somebody is Dan Fruedberg. He is the director of service quality for Access Ride.
“We do take that seriously," Fruedberg said. "More importantly, we want to understand what the trends are so we can prevent them in the future."
Freudberg said Access Ride is 87 percent on time for pick-up, and 84 percent on time for drop-offs.
He thinks that's pretty good, and you might too until your work tardies start showing up.
“I can’t be late once a week to work,” said Brown. "That is a stressor, and it also threatens my job."
That MTA figure of 87 percent is certainly challenged by Kristy Satterfeld, who said her ride is late more like once a week.
Fox 17 News asked her to tape a cellphone video every time Access Ride is late. She sent video of eight late arrivals in the past two months.
Fruedberg said Access Ride is constantly trying to do better. He said they are mapping routes differently because of traffic and now have GPS on vans to more easily audit driver efficiency.
They are also about to launch online booking instead of phone-booking.
He said Access Ride is providing about 1,500 rides a day, and that is is challenging to keep everyone on time.
By the way, on time for Access Ride is not what you think.
If someone calls and asks for a ride at 2 p.m., Access Ride isn't late until 2:31 p.m. They allow themselves 30 minute window.
Danny Mosley said that is very stressful when you have an appointment with a doctor who won't see you if you are 30 minutes late.
"A lot of doctors want to charge you a no-show fee of $25, and you miss a doctors appointment you might need," Mosley said. "We can’t pay that kind of money, we just can’t pay."
Mosley has actually waited out in the rain for 45 minutes after going to dinner with his wife; a bad end to what should have been a rare and enjoyable date night.
"Mayor Barry is talking about mass transportation," Mosley said. "We want to be included in that idea. Don't forget us. We are people too. We need to go places and do things. We are people. Don’t forget us."