Access Link Q and A
This document is offered as a summary of terms that were explored and questions asked during the ACCESS LINK Customer Forum.
CLARIFICATION OF TERMS
Shared Ride: Comparable to NJ TRANSIT’s local bus service, Access Link is a "shared-ride" system. This means that other customers may be picked up and dropped off before you are transported to your destination. Due to this being a shared ride, we are unable to guarantee that you will be taken directly to your destination.
Comparable ride time: The length of time it would take for a specific ride to be completed on NJ Transit’s local fixed bus route and light rail systems. This includes the time spent getting to and from each mode, wait time, and the time spend riding on each mode.
New Service Infraction Policy: We encourage you to visit Access Link online at www.accesslink.njtransit.com for information about the updated policy. The policy also contains definitions for the various types of cancelations and infractions.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What if the Customer cannot cancel or manage their own trips? If a customer cannot cancel or manage their own rides, then they are encouraged to identify someone who can act on their behalf. This will afford the customer the ability to make their concerns and preferences known, fully utilize the Access Link service, and remain in good standing. Some customers receive support from their employers, teachers, medical teams (like nurses, home health aides, etc.), friends and family.
Are you expanding the Access Link Rider’s Choice pilot to other areas? Access Link is currently working on offering the Riders Choice Pilot in all regions. The Riders Choice Pilot is currently being modified and tweaked based on the feedback received from customers. As the program develops, we will communicate the changes. We are encouraging customers to try the pilot.
What will the fare be for the pilot? At this time, customers will not be charged a fare that exceeds the fare for their scheduled Access Link ride.
Can customers book directly with the TNC? This is a new feature that is coming to the Riders Choice Pilot. Once we are ready to launch this part of the pilot, we will provide documentation to instruct customers on the process. Once implemented, customers will need to go to the TNC platforms to reserve, monitor, manage, and pay for those rides.
How to do you enroll in the Riders’ Choice Program Pilot? Customers can access the Riders’ Choice Pilot opt-in form by visiting the Access Link Online website. For customers needing assistance to complete the form, please contact Access Link Customer Service at [email protected] or at 973-491-4224, option 5.
Why does Access Link wait to rescue a trip? Our Service Providers adjust tours throughout the day to account for traffic, customer issues, and other delays that can affect the schedules on the day of service. We realize that customers, who have opted into the Riders Choice Pilot, would like their delayed Access Link ride immediately moved to a TNC sooner, rather than later. Access Link acknowledges the concern, and the goal is always to minimize or prevent customer inconvenience. This is an area we will focus on making immediate improvements and work with our Service Providers to ensure the proactive monitoring of rides.
What is Access Link doing about GPS, location-specific information, or inaccurate routes? The experiences some customers shared about the GPS negatively impacting their trip were sent to our IT group for further review. We use Real Time Traffic from Tom-Tom to enhance the navigation. We are also piloting a new system throughout the state. As a reminder, paratransit is not a fixed route, meaning the route the system will suggest to the operator varies daily. The goal is to optimize the trips in a logical order.
What is Access Link doing to update client files? Access Link customers are asked to make sure their customer files are up to date. All changes to contact information, addresses, disability or mobility aids should be reported to our Certification group as soon as possible. These requests can be made by calling Access Link and selecting option #1 or via the Access Link website or Mobile App under the Feedback section. Also, if you have an email address, we ask that you please share it with us. We send out a great deal of information via email.
How is Access Link addressing staffing concerns with agents and representatives? Access Link management has a continuous onboarding process in place to ensure that all departments are staffed with the number of agents needed to assist our customers.
Access Link is aware of the inconvenience customers experience when waiting on hold, longer than expected, to speak to a live agent. To help us reduce the wait time, we encourage customers to utilize Access Link’s self-service tools to reserve rides, cancel rides, and check the status of an upcoming ride. As we roll out more self-service tools, we will continue to offer support to our customers when using them.
What is Access Link doing about hiring more operators? Our Service Providers have been diligently working to recruit new operators and other essential regional staff. This has been ongoing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and we are optimistic that their efforts accompanied by the changes we implement will yield positive results.
Are operators receiving their commendations? Access Link and its Service Providers value the feedback received from customers regarding their positive experiences with our operators. Commendations motivate our operators by letting them know their efforts are noticed and appreciated. All commendations we receive are promptly forwarded to our Service Provider for acknowledgment.
What are the plans for better communication with operators? Access Link will work with our Service Providers to improve communication between Vehicle Operators, our Service Controllers, and the Access Link Operations Center.
What is being done about operators who are unfamiliar with rail stations and elevator outages? It is not possible for Access Link operators to be familiar with every location our customers travel to each day. However, Access Link will ensure the driver comments of each NJ Transit station within our ¾-mile service area clearly state the pick-up area for each side of each station in our database. This will help Vehicle Operators know exactly where they need to drop off and pick up customers.
Unfortunately, elevator outages can occur at any time, and Access Link cannot guarantee notification will occur in time to prevent any inconvenience on the day of service. We encourage customers to sign up for NJT Alerts to avoid being caught off guard when traveling on NJ Transit’s other modes: Rail, Bus, and Light Rail. When customers sign up, they are asked to select the modes and specific routes they use to travel. Then, should any delays, schedule changes, or elevator or escalator outage occur, they will receive notification with alternate travel suggestions. For information on the other modes of service, reach out to the Transit Information Center (TIC) at 973-275-5555 or go to the NJ TRANSIT website at www.njtransit.com.
When will the customer guidelines be available? We are in the process of updating this document. Once completed it will be posted on Access Link online, the NJ TRANSIT website, and available on demand in other formats.
What happens if my destination is on an unsafe roadway with no sidewalks? Operators will always strive to drop customers off at the safest area within the Access Link ¾ of a mile service area. However, it is a customer’s responsibility to make sure they can navigate the areas they travel to and from on public transit, like Access Link. We are here to provide the customers with information on our service area and we try to assist in giving information on other providers as well, like the county paratransit providers. We strongly encourage customers to confirm if there are any known potential barriers in the areas they will be traveling to on Access Link before the day of service.
Why do we not go to the airport in Philadelphia or NYC? Access Link shadows the local NJ Transit fixed route and light rail stations. In accordance with the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, Access Link is not required to shadow commuter routes. However, it is important to remember that being eligible for paratransit in New Jersey allows customer to use any other states’ paratransit service as a visitor. Customers are encouraged to contact the Certification Group for more information on utilizing paratransit in other states.
Will the Service Area be expanded beyond the ADA minimum? Access Link realizes customers would like to travel to locations that exceed the Access Link ¾-mile service area, however it is not within our available resources to increase the service area beyond the minimum requirement. Access Link is one transportation resource that is available to customers with disabilities. However, there are other transportation options that may be available to a person with a disability in their specific area that can be used in conjunction with Access Link such as County Paratransit, Municipality transportation or Rideshare services.
What is being done about on-time performance and late arrivals? These two areas are top priorities. During the presentation, which is available on the NJ TRANSIT YouTube channel, we touch on the many actions underway to specifically address these important areas. An exciting example is the implementation of Appointment Time Booking. More information will be available soon.
What is the status of appointment time booking? This new reservation feature is in the testing phase. We are looking for customers to test this feature out. If interested, please email [email protected] with your name, contact number, Access Link Id number and indicate the pilot of interest.
What is the status of same day trip booking? At this time, we are not planning on implementing this trip booking feature. We are aware of the customers’ interest. Our immediate focus is on improving our on-time performance, telephone hold times, and reducing on-board times for riders.
Will customers be able to use web booking for unsaved addresses? We will be allowing customers to book to unsaved addresses in the service area, soon. Stay tuned for more information. This means that customers will no longer be confined to their frequently traveled places address list or Access Link’s common site list and will be able to use the web and app for more of their trip booking needs.
Why can’t the driver wait for me? While operators are required to wait 5 minutes for a customer to board an Access Link vehicle, operators are not required to wait until a customer has entered their destination before leaving the location. If a customer requires this additional assistance, they are encouraged to travel with a companion or Personal Care Attendant or can have someone at their destination available to meet them once they disembark the Access Link vehicle.
Why can’t the driver give me change? Access Link operators do not have the ability to provide customers with change. Customers are provided their ride cost at the time their ride is scheduled. In preparation for an upcoming ride, customers are asked to ensure they have exact change available or can utilize Access Link’s electronic fare option, EZ-Wallet. Utilizing EZ-Wallet will ensure paying the required fare for a ride occurs without issue, and also ensures no overpayments occur as well. More detailed information about EZ-Wallet can be found on the Access Link website and the Access Link mobile app or contact Access Link Customer Service.
How can I travel into NYC? Customers can utilize Access Link to connect to other modes of transportation that could transport them into another NYC such as NJ Transit Commuter bus routes or train, Amtrak, and other privately owned bus services.
Can the system call my home when I’m home and call my cellphone when I am out traveling? Our current system does not have the ability to use the random contact numbers that may be noted in a customer’s ride for automated notifications. Customers are asked to provide the contact number they will most likely have access to throughout their day, generally their cellphone.
ACCESS LINK CONTACT INFORMATION
Access Link Phone Number: 973-491-4224
Access Link Website: www.accesslink.njtransit.com
Certification: This team is available Monday through Friday, excluding holidays from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You should select option # 1 from the Main Menu. The email address for the Certification Group is [email protected].
- Next Day Only: Call 973-491-4224 and select option # 2 from the Main Menu, then select 1. Next day reservations are only accepted daily from 7:30AM to 4:00PM. This team is available every day. The email address is [email protected].
- Future Reservations: Call 973-491-4224 and select option # 2 from the Main Menu, then select 2. Future day reservations are only accepted daily from 7:30AM to 3:00PM. This team is available every day. The email address is [email protected].
- Questions about addresses and fares: Call 973-491-4224 and select option # 2 from the Main Menu, then select 3. These questions can be answered Monday through Friday, excluding holidays from 7:30 am to 3:00pm. The email address is [email protected].
- Ride cancellations: Call 973-491-4224 and select option # 3 from the Main Menu. Team members are available daily from 5:00AM to 10:00PM.
- Ride status: Call 973-491-4224 and select option # 4 from the Main Menu. Team members are available daily from 5:00AM to 10:00PM.
Customer Service: This team is available Monday through Friday, excluding holidays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. You should select option # 5 from the Main Menu. The email address for the Customer Service Group is [email protected].
Subscriptions: This team is available Monday through Friday, excluding holidays from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. Call 973-491-4224 and select option # 6 from the Main Menu. The email address for the Subscription Group is [email protected].
Special Announcements and News: For information about Special Events, Campaigns, and Service Disruptions call 973-491-4224 and select option # 7 from the Main Menu.