By Mark Hallum
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) has released a report he prepared ahead of the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, highlighting the inaccessibility of the city’s subways.
According to Gianaris, fewer than 25 percent of subway stations in the city are wheelchair-accessible, the worst offender being the G train, which only has one stop with an elevator.
“It is unacceptable and embarrassing for New York to be worst in the nation in subway accessibility,” Gianaris said. “For New York to thrive it must have an MTA for All, where everyone can access the subway system to get to work, school and around our city.”
The report, which he researched, claims the New York City Transit system is the most inaccessible in the nation with the New Jersey PATH train and Philadelphia’s PATCO the second and third worst.
The transit system with the highest level of accessibility is Washington, D.C.’s WMATA, which is ADA compliant for all 91 stations.
This is not the first time Gianaris has spoken out against the MTA about ADA accessibility.
In October 2017, he drew attention to the fact that the 30th and 36th Avenue stations on the N and W lines in Astoria were not slated to have elevators installed despite massive structural and aesthetic redesigns.
“The MTA’s continued emphasis on style over substance wastes scarce resources, hurts transit riders, and stunts our economy while its failed Enhanced Station Initiative continues to cosmetically renovate stations without improving service or accessibility,” Gianaris said in March, pointing to a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against the MTA for failure to make a subway station in the Bronx ADA accessible. “It should not take federal legal intervention to force the MTA to do its job, yet here we are. It is past time for the Enhanced Station Initiative to end and for the money to be spent instead on actually fixing our subways.”
The MTA said in March that it had already spent $1.7 billion on improving access and that the next five-year capital plan would have more money in the works to improve ADA accessibility across the system.
The MTA board approved an amendment to the 2015-2019 capital plan in May to make 17 stations, including three in Queens, ADA compliant
About $200 million will go toward elevators and other ADA accessible improvements to the Astoria Boulevard station on the N/W lines, Court Square to the G line and the Woodhaven Boulevard stop on the J line.
“We are putting an increased focus on accessibility with all of our planning moving forward, and this plan amendment is a direct result of that promise,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “We have a lot more work to do, but this plan amendment – as well as our board working group on accessibility and the commitment of NYC Transit President Andy Byford — demonstrate our commitment to accessibility for all of our customers.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall