By Philip Newman
State Comptroller Alan Hevesi has issued a report saying the Transit Authority has improved access to the transit system for the disabled but still has a long way to go. Queens got off easy in the report with only one station mentioned.
“The New York City Transit Authority does little to monitor the way the subway system is being used by people with disabilities,” Hevesi’s staff report said. “And our observations confirmed that few patrons with wheelchairs use the system.”
The report said auditors found gaps between rail cars and platforms larger than the maximum allowed, inoperable equipment, unsanitary conditions, dim lighting, poor intercom systems, an uncut curb blocking approach to one station, inadequate signage, a lack of designated boarding areas and unreported out-of-service elevators.
“We also noted that inspections of subway elevators were not documented,” the report said.
The subway station at 21st Street and Queensbridge in Long Island City on the S line was the only one in Queens the comptroller’s report mentioned. It was cited for an unacceptably wide gap between the platform and subway cars, inadequate direction signs and needed overall improvement.
Hevesi acknowledged that the New York City Transit Authority had spent an estimated $330 million to make the use of rapid transit by the mobility impaired more accessible.
“However there remain potentially dangerous situations which until now have gone undetected and must be addressed,” Hevesi said. “I am gratified that working co-operatively with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and NYCTA, we were able to identify these situations so they may be corrected and the subways become safer and more accessible to everyone.”
The report said Transit Authority officials have indicated they were implementing most of the audit recommendations.
“The MTA is pleased to work with Comptroller Hevesi on the important issue of making the subway system more accessible to disabled riders,” said MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act and New York state law require the Transit Authority to make 100 subway stations accessible to people with disabilities by 2020. So far, the $330 million the Transit Authority has spent has upgraded nearly 40 stations.
State auditors inspected 30 stations around the city and found:
Platforms at 17 stations had gaps between platform and subway cars larger than the maximum allowed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Four stations had inoperable elevators.
Elevators in four stations were dimly lit.
Elevator intercoms were not working in seven stations.
Clerks did not respond to the elevator intercom in seven stations.
Inadequate signs were posted in 24 stations.
Thirteen stations had no designated boarding areas.
The out-of-service elevators at three stations had not been reported to a hotline set up for such a purpose.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.