To use New York City's paratransit service—the on-demand public transportation system for people who can’t use the bus or the subway system—a customer must call one to two days in advance, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. She can request a pickup time or submit an appointment time by which she must reach her destination, but not both. The driver will pick her up anywhere from 30 minutes before to 30 minutes after the agreed-upon time. If anything changes, the customer must call three hours in advance to cancel the trip.
That’s more hassle than most people would put up with to visit a doctor or have dinner at a restaurant or go to the store. And that’s how the system is supposed to work. Before the Americans with Disabilities Act passed more than 20 years ago, there was no guarantee that public transit would serve disabled people at all. The ADA required paratransit service as a supplement to public transportation systems, as well as increased access on regular public transit routes for people with disabilities.
With the Crown Victoria discontinued, New York City recently held a competition soliciting new ideas for the "Taxi of Tomorrow." The three finalists come from Nissan, Ford, and a little-known Turkish company called Karsan. Oddly, they all look like minivans.