In a June 23rd article the Boston Globe reported that complaints from users of the MBTA’s door-to-door paratransit program, The Ride, have surged following an overhaul of the service launched four months ago. Since the overhaul, which centered on the opening of a new call center operated by North Carolina-based Global Contact Services, complaints have averaged 424 complaints per month, a major increase from an average of 323 per month in 2016. Since the February launch state officials have also seen a drop in The Ride’s on-schedule service rate from 90 percent to 86 percent.
Passengers using The Ride’s service have reported an increase in wait times, with pickups from doctor’s offices taking hours, rides failing to show up, and poor customer service from call center staff. Joyce Breda, who has relied on The Ride for over 17 years, says that since the change in management she has missed two doctor’s appointments as well as three work days due to issues with the service, stating, “It’s not reliable anymore. . . . Almost every week it’s something. Sometimes it’s more than once a week.”
Despite the many issues reported by The Ride passengers, Brian Shortsleeve, acting general manager of the MBTA, says that improvements in service should be seen within four to eight weeks, insisting that outsourcing the call center to a private company will result in improved service and a decrease in spending resulting in $40 million by 2020.