Since January, seniors who rely on the public MyRide shuttle service to get to doctor appointments have had to pay 40 cents more per ride. A vote by alders aims to change that.
The Board of Alders Human Services Committee voted Thursday evening to approve a resolution urging Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the state legislature and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to reduce or rescind the rate increase on MyRiders. The non-binding resolution now heads to the full Board of Alders for a final vote.
MyRide, a service offered by the Greater New Haven Transit District (GNHTD), provides on-call transportation to seniors and the disabled to get to appointments and run errands like grocery shopping.
Last month, MyRiders voiced complaints about the transit service, saying MyRide is inefficient and frequently shows up late, resulting in missed medical appointments. Its rising cost has fueled additional criticism.
In January, MyRide rates went up from $2.60 per ride to $3.00, bringing the cost of a round-trip journey up to $6.
Don Dimenstein (pictured), a retired director of elderly services for the city, said the hike is a huge problem for senior citizens, especially those who live on fixed incomes and cannot afford ever-increasing transportation fees.
“Every time the government runs short of money, they always turn to a component of society to make up the difference,” he said. “We can’t make [the elderly] a casualty when the economy dips low.”
Bella Vista Alder Barbara Constantinople, who said she lives off a fixed income through social security, agreed, and voiced her support of the resolution. “I think we should support this 100 percent,” she said. “[Seniors] cannot pay for it.”
Constantinople said that while she has never used MyRide, she has friends and neighbors in the Bella Vista senior citizen complex who use the service. In addition to be unreliable, Constantinople said, MyRide could become too expensive for seniors or disabled residents.
Since the 2014-2015 budget has already been approved, no changes can be made to the current rates until the state General Assembly reconvenes in 2015. State Rep. Patricia Dillon (pictured) said the city could look for some short-term fixes until that time comes.
Dillon’s suggested creating a monthly pass option for MyRide, with a discount. MyRide currently offers only single fares or 10-ride passes.
Dillon also suggested a short term solution may be to distinguish between programs funded by the federal government versus state government, in order to explore different pricing options for seniors versus the disabled.
Dillon said she was simply brainstorming; she has not looked into what actions could be taken or funded by the city alone.
Fair Haven Alder Santiago Berrios-Bones said he likes the idea of a monthly pass. Unused money on the pass should transfer over to the next month, he said.
Alders agreed to continue working to find a way to ease the burden of transportation costs for the elderly.