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NYC Subway Aims for Accessibility for Riders with Disabilities


Thursday, July 21, 2022   

New York City's subway system has often been a thorn in the side of the disabled community, because only 114 of the system's 472 stations, or 24%, are disability accessible.

It is slated to change as part of a class-action settlement. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said, as part of its next round of capital improvements, all remaining subway stations will be made accessible for people with disabilities.

Jeff Peters, director of communications at the Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York, feels it is a major step forward, despite the lengthy timeline.

"The fact that it is a long time frame is not the greatest thing in the world," Peters acknowledged. "Of course, we'd all love to see this be done in a faster manner. But this is now the first time that they've actually mandated that there is a date, and there is money set aside for this."

The MTA is aiming for 81 stations to be made accessible by 2025, with improvements to a second round of 85 stations 10 years after. In the two decades afterward, 180 stations will be made accessible by 2055.

According to the New York City Department of Health, more than more than three million people in the city live with a disability.

Peters believes it should not signal the end of disability-access improvements for mass transit, rather, it is a new beginning with plenty of work ahead. He added the changes to be made do not start with construction plans, but with better education about what 'disability access' means.

"When we educate people about what needs to be done, they understand a little bit more," Peters explained. "Sometimes we'll hear, 'I never thought of it like that.' Or, 'I didn't see it this way, thanks for bringing it to my attention.' Sometimes, people just need to see how things will affect other people."

Greater awareness can help elected officials and everyday citizens comprehend the necessity of elevator and escalator access at subway platforms, and for functioning tactile strips to alert blind people of their location on a station's platform. Peters emphasized once others know this, it will underscore the importance of these improvements.

Disclosure: The Center for Independence of the Disabled-New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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