Is Paratransit worth the time vs the expense of cabs?
May 30, 2012 5:34 AM   Subscribe

Knee injury - NYC paratransit? Looking for people who have used it. Not sure if it is worth it?

I live in NYC and busted my knee playing on the beach over the holiday weekend. Under dr's care and everything but now I'm dreading the unplanned for in my budget taxi bills it will take if I want to do things like go to dinner, can't just hop on the A train anymore.

I've tried to check out the Paratransit website but the info is vague, I dread calling any city agency, and from the website, even signing up looks like a very confusing process. Have you used it before? Have your friends/fam? Wondering if it is worth all the hassle. I know everything is going to be a hassle the next few months though!
posted by manicure12 to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (6 answers total)
I'm guessing that you're in a cast right now? (correct me if I'm wrong) I have no experience with that so hopefully someone else can answer the part about paratransit.

BUT if you're not in a cast, taking the subway is definitely doable! I dislocated my knee a few months ago and had to wear an immobilizer brace (thankfully only for a week). I was able to get through the subway although it was a major PITA dealing with stairs. When going down stairs, I would sort of bend my good knee and hop down to the next. Going up was harder though. I figured out that standing on my tippity toes would make it easier for me to drop my braced knee on the next step. You can probably get through the subway with a cast and crutches of course... But it definitely won't be as easy as with just a brace.

And a big bonus is that people will jump to offer you a seat once they see your injured self :)
posted by lovelygirl at 6:11 AM on May 30, 2012

Buses! Busses Kneel! and when not during peak rush hours, the driver will stop in the middle of the block for you! (particularly not in Manhattan)

Seriously, getting injured and walking with a cane for 4 weeks opened my eyes to the glories of the New York City bus system. My main issue was getting my subway pass re-newed, since I needed to figure out how to get down the stairs into the subway system to do it.
posted by larthegreat at 6:26 AM on May 30, 2012

My partner uses it and he has full and continual access. (He has MS.)

The first stop is to talk to your doctor and gather up any important details. You'll need to fill out an application, and set up a time for an interview, where they will access your ability to get around. Sometimes what happens is they grant you a certain type of access - like the ability to use paratransit when you are going to a place where there isn't an elevator at the subway station and allow you access for a certain period of time.

As for using it - it can be helpful, but be prepared to wait on THEIR time. My partner uses it to get to and from work every day - and they can be up to 30 minutes past the 'pick-up time' - which is totally acceptable from their end. He's gotten home up to 2 house past when I expected him because of having to wait. Also, they pick up multiple people so you may not want to use the service if you have somewhere time sensitive to be.

You can only make 2 round-trips in advance, and you can't make appointments on the fly. (So if you wanted to travel tomorrow, you need to know today.)

The system to make appointments is by phone only, and you can get good agents and bad agents who don't care.

It is a bit of a hassle, but it really depends on how much you'll use it. My partner uses it every day to get to and from work, so for him it's definitely worth waiting and having to deal with their bureaucracy. It's been a lifesaver for him because the subway is near impossible for him to navigate now with his cane and poor balance. I no longer am scared he'll fall on the tracks.

As another anecdote, I had a serious spinal injury that required the use of a cane for 2 years. I got around mostly by bus, which was far easier than the subway. I did a lot of planning of routes ahead of time too, so that I knew which stations had elevator access/escalators or small amount of stairs when I did want to take the subway. If you live near a fair amount of bus routes, it might be an excellent option for you.
posted by carmenghia at 6:39 AM on May 30, 2012

A friend's health insurance paid for cabs to and from work when he broke his leg a few years ago - maybe something to look into.
posted by valeries at 7:03 AM on May 30, 2012

manicure12: "I live in NYC and busted my knee playing on the beach over the holiday weekend. Under dr's care and everything but now I'm dreading the unplanned for in my budget taxi bills it will take if I want to do things like go to dinner, can't just hop on the A train anymore."

Let's just say that the Paratransit system exists for situations much more severe than yours.
posted by mkultra at 7:54 AM on May 30, 2012

Thanks carmenghia, super helpful to hear how it has worked for your family.

And valeries, thanks for the health insurance idea. Wouldn't have thought of that. I'll have to call and see if that's an option.

For others, to clarify, I'm in a cast and my doctor does not want me to not walk on it for at least 2 weeks. Cast time: 3 months. Nearest bus stop is 5 blocks, nearest train 10+ blocks. So, to get to work meetings or anything else, social or otherwise, I'm going to need to be picked up right outside my door, by paratransit or an option much less affordable, wherever one might put me on the "severe enough" scale.
posted by manicure12 at 10:05 AM on May 30, 2012

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