Wheelchair Accessibility Still a Problem in New York City

A brand new subway station in New York City is making headlines this week for two reasons:

  1. The overhaul of the station was so comprehensive that it cost over $21 million and took about 8 months to complete. The renovation included new ceilings, walls, and floors.
  2. After all the time and money the city spent on renovating the station, it remains inaccessible to people with disabilities.

A Big City with a Big Problem

The station in question, Middletown Road station resides on a four mile stretch of the Bronx that includes six stops on the “6 line” train.

Not one of those stops is accessible to people in wheelchairs. To make matters worse, only 19{4484a610ba12ad46baec767347073917e486819a83b2d744ced0feda89144e79} of subway stations in NYC are wheelchair accessible.

Compare that number to the 100{4484a610ba12ad46baec767347073917e486819a83b2d744ced0feda89144e79} subway station accessibility rates in cities like Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

For those people living in NYC who don’t have handicap accessible vans, getting around can certainly be a problem. While all NYC busses are handicap accessible, anyone who has lived in or extensively travelled around the major parts of the city can tell you that the bus system is significantly slower than the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) rail lines.

Suing for Equal Accessibility

Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit group, has filed a federal class action lawsuit against the MTA, claiming that the city’s renovation of the station violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

While the DRA asserts that an elevator should have been added during the renovation, the MTA claims that because no elevator could have been added due to the space constraints of the station, they are not in violation of ADA regulations. They also claim that minor ADA-compliant renovations were made, such as the addition of tactile signs and new handrails.

Regardless of the the outcome of the lawsuit, we hope that this calls attention to the inaccessibility rates of New York City’s subway system.

What do you think? Is the MTA in violation of the ADA regulations? Have you ever been on a subway in NYC? Join the conversation by commenting below!

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