Resolution 2021-02 Regarding MTA MobilityLink

WHEREAS, many members of the blind community in Maryland who cannot use fixed-route public transit services rely heavily on the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) MobilityLink service to integrate into the community, commute to school and work, keep medical appointments, purchase food and other necessities, and attend religious services and other gatherings; and

WHEREAS, MTA has reduced its number of MobilityLink drivers by five hundred, which is nearly half of the number it employed in 2019; and

WHEREAS, the on-time percentage for MobilityLink fell from more than 94% to 67.5% as of August 2021, the worst on-time performance in over five years, and anecdotal evidence indicates the on-time percentage in the fall of 2021 is even lower; and

WHEREAS, throughout the summer and fall of 2021, the MTA MobilityLink Program provided services that were frequently significantly late, resulting in catastrophic outcomes for its users including missed dialysis and other medical appointments and the inability to acquire prescribed treatments and medications; and

WHEREAS, clients were also required to wait in unsafe conditions, such as inclement weather including lightning, for seven hours or more; and

WHEREAS, MTA has also experienced frequent and prolonged outages to its telephone system, which has frustrated riders and hindered their ability to schedule trips, check on late rides, and share concerns; and

WHEREAS, clients were often unable to obtain correct, useful, or effective communication from the Mobility Call Center; and

WHEREAS, MTA operates a Taxi Access Program that is intended to alleviate some of the burden on its prescheduled MTA Mobility van drivers and to create flexibility for clients; and

WHEREAS, taxi companies who participate in the Taxi Access program are understaffed and are not transparent, responsive, or effective, rendering this program in need of major overhaul; and

WHEREAS, rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft provide transportation services in states such as California, Illinois, and New York much like the Maryland Taxi Access Program, giving clients instant access to vehicles, the ability to communicate directly with drivers, and an overall reduction in wait time for transportation services: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this fourteenth day of November, 2021, in the City of Baltimore, that this organization urge the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to establish safeguards and backup measures to resolve the current MobilityLink crisis and halt the ongoing and devastating service breakdown; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization demand that MTA redouble its efforts to hire a sufficient number of drivers and upgrade its phone systems to provide timely, safe, effective, and efficient MobilityLink services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge Governor Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly to provide sufficient funding for MTA to modernize its MobilityLink program and to hold MDOT and MTA accountable for ensuring that riders receive timely, safe, efficient, and effective MobilityLink services; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the MTA to continue to expand the Taxi Access Program to include rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft, and to increase the use of contracts with other transportation providers and take any other lawful and appropriate measures, in order to alleviate the challenges created by the driver shortage.