A ParaTransit pilot program underway in White Plains is saving taxpayers money while increasing convenience for riders by giving them the option to take taxis instead of more expensive vans.
Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of the new "Bee-Line Taxi" initiative and explained how riders can take part in this unique program.
"This is an example of smart government and smart savings," Astorino said. "Thinking outside the box like this helps us to protect – and in this case improve – the essential services that so many of our residents rely on. Providing ParaTransit riders with quality service remains a priority, but at the same time we are constantly looking for ways to cut the costs for our taxpayers."
ParaTransit is available to Westchester County residents who are unable to ride the Bee-Line bus system due to a disability. The county's ParaTransit service currently serves 5,500 registered riders a year, providing 220,000 trips annually.
On average, ParaTransit van rides cost the county approximately $50 per person per trip. The county estimates that the taxi rides cost between $8 and $10 per person per trip and will be used annually for about 8,300 trips – saving $300,000 a year.
ParaTransit riders are given a choice of which service they prefer in the city; either way the fare is $4.
"ParaTransit is already one of the best services that exists in the state, and this program will allow it to continue to provide the number of trips that are needed in Westchester each year," said Joe Bravo, executive director of Westchester Independent Living Center, a nonprofit advocacy and resource center in White Plains that serves people with all types of disabilities. "It's a great first step and I hope it just continues to grow."
Robin Jones, a registered ParaTransit rider who has been utilizing the taxi service for a variety of errands throughout White Plains, said she loves the flexibility and convenience of the new program.
"This addition to ParaTransit is wonderful. It's convenient, the drivers are very nice, and overall everyone is very helpful," Jones said. "I'm very happy they have added this to ParaTransit – and I'm sure I'm not the only one who's going to feel this way."
Since April 2, more than 520 riders in White Plains have utilized the taxi service, which is provided by Intrepid Taxi.
"White Plains is uniquely situated to take advantage of this program because we are a small city geographically, but we have a lot of action here," said White Plains Mayor Tom Roach. "Not only does this offer greater convenience, but it also frees up van availability. And one of our local taxi companies is also benefiting from the additional business. So this really is a win, win, win all the way around."
Evan Latainer, director of the county's Office for the Disabled, said the response from riders has been very positive, and now the county may consider expanding the program into northern Westchester.
"The overall goal of the pilot taxi program is to offer our riders with additional options on how they utilize ParaTransit services while also creating cost savings to the taxpayers of Westchester County," Latainer said. "By finding new ways of doing things, you can cut out costs and improve service at the same time."
ParaTransit riders from throughout Westchester County may use the Bee-Line Taxi service, but only for trips within the city. For more information or to schedule a pick-up, call (914) 995-7272 or read more on What is ParaTransit.