Ambulette drivers can breathe a sigh of relief, and their wallets will be happy too — no longer will they be returning to their vehicle with a patient to help out, only to find a parking ticket waiting on the windshield. The help will come from Montefiore Hospital, which is deep into plans to set up a special ambulette parking zone right in front of the main entrance at 111 E. 210th St.
John Grasso, president of Galaxy Transportation, Inc. said that the ambulette zone would be a blessing for his business. “We were bringing people inside to drop them off at the hospital, or picking them up after a discharge, and vans were being left outside without a driver, just for a few minutes,” he explained. “But there were no designated spots in front of the hospital specifically for ambulettes, so they were getting ticket after ticket.”
Grasso said that at one point Galaxy drivers were probably getting 5 to 7 tickets a day.
“If the sign says No Standing, even though we’re helpig patients in and out of the hospital, we can’t park there,” he acknowledged. “They are very strict.”
Now, thanks to Grasso himself and some other ambulette companies, a DOT representative, Community Board 7 representative, head of the hospital security, and some other ambulette vendors all met on the corner for an examination of the area.
“It was an effort by everyone to get this solved, because it’s better for the patients this way. And it was hurting our business, and hurting them,” Grasso said.
Steven Osborne, spokesperson for Montefiore Hospital, cautioned that the zone is not a certainty yet, though it is well on its way.
“We’re working very constructively with DOT to make it happen, but it is not a done deal yet,” he said. “They have to put signs up, and that’s in the process of being accomplished. We look forward to a successful conclusion and getting that going, though.”
Osborne acknowledged that the previous problem with ticketing was affecting a number of ambulette companies, and that it will now be more convenient for them and the patients too, who will exit the hospital and know exactly where to go in order to find a ride home. Access-A-Ride already has a designated space there, but the ambulettes need a zone due to their larger size, and the fact that when they pick people up they often need to leave the vehicle idling outside while they help someone out of the lobby.
It will be for pick-up and drop-off only, not long-time parking,” warned Osborne. “7 spots total, basically half the block.”
Never has anyone been so excited about seven parking spots as these ambulette owners must be at the moment. For now, they’ll hold off the celebration until they can see the new spaces with their own eyes.
Reach Daniel Roberts at droberts@c
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