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Access-a-Ride extension vetoed

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newsid=16975765&BRD=2676&PAG=461&dept_id=551068&rfi=6

From Times Ledger
July 27, 2006

By Howard Koplowitz

Gov. George Pataki vetoed a bill co-sponsored by state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) earlier this month that would have extended Access-A-Ride service five miles into Nassau County from Queens, the assemblyman said Tuesday.

The farthest into Nassau that Access-A-Ride currently travels is the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation in New Hyde Park, where Weprin held a news conference last year to promote his bill.

Weprin said his legislation - which he co-sponsored with Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and passed both houses- was needed because the elderly and disabled from Queens who rely on Access-A-Ride are faced with inconvenience if they scheduled a doctor's appointment on Long Island.

To make such a visit, Access-A-Ride users also must schedule an appointment with the service's Long Island counterpart, Able Ride, and if the transportation does not pick up a passenger on time, it can lead to a missed appointment.

"I was very disappointed that the governor turned his back on the disabled and seniors in the area," Weprin said. "The area on the Nassau-Queens border is uniquely situated because it has so many elderly and so many doctors and hospitals. Therefore, that location made perfect sense for this service, which was stranding so many elderly and seniors and disabled people."

Some of those hospitals include North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center as well as numerous medical offices on Lakeville Road and Marcus Avenue in Nassau.

Ruth Sadovnik, a 78-year-old Little Neck resident who uses Access-A-Ride, shared Weprin's disappointment about the veto.

"I think it's very necessary to have [the bill] but I guess the governor doesn't relate to people who are handicapped," Sadovnik said. "If I didn't have Access-A-Ride, I couldn't go anywhere."

Weprin's first version of the bill, which would have had Access-A-Ride travel anywhere on Long Island, did not pass the state Senate. That prompted him to shorten the distance to within a five-mile reach into Nassau. Under the bill, Able Ride would also have traveled five miles beyond the Queens border.

Weprin said the governor and the MTA, which runs Access-A-Ride, opposed his most recent bill because of cost issues, although Weprin said he was unsure how much expense the agency would have incurred if the legislation had become law.

Despite the veto, Weprin said he was optimistic that the bill will be approved in the next legislative session as a newly elected governor will succeed Pataki, who decided not to seek a fourth term. The governor is considered to be eyeing a possible presidential bid.

"I am hopeful and confident that [the bill] will be passed under the new governor," Weprin said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

 

 

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