Commuting on the subway is hard enough for most commuters – having to deal with crowded subways, sweltering hot platforms during the summer months and transit delays – but for a person with a disability or injury, commuting in NYC can be a nightmare. A plan to make the city’s massive subway system more user-friendly is in the works.
Community Board 18 (CB18) voted to approve a zoning text amendment which will allow the MTA to improve ADA access at transit stations citywide, improving the commute for transit riders with disabilities.
The proposal is a joint effort by the MTA and the Department of City Planning (DCP), and representatives from both agencies gave a presentation at the May 19th meeting of CB18.
“As most subway stations were built before 1950, currently only 136 of 493 stations are ADA accessible,” Luke DePalma, a representative for the MTA, told attendees. “We have a lot of way to go to make the system more accessible.”
While accessibility features include components like track height and stairwell improvements with proper railings, the “zoning for transit accessibility” amendment specifically deals with “vertical access,” meaning elevators and ramps. The MTA’s capital program for 2020-2024 has committed more than $5 billion to make 77 stations accessible, bringing 43 percent of MTA stations to full accessibility.
DePalma explained that customers will not be more than two stations away from an accessible station and that the improvements are not just for the wheelchair-bound. “They will help people with disabilities, seniors, parents with young children and those with temporary injuries. Without these accessibility features, a journey that takes minutes can take a very long time,” he said.
Close to home, the improvements will be made at three stations along the “L” line, including Rockaway Parkway, East 105th Street and New Lots Avenue, and at Flatbush Avenue/Brooklyn college (“2” and “5” lines).
Approval is needed by community boards across the city and should be completed by mid-June. This will be followed by a review by the City Planning Commission and City Council before landing on the Mayor’s desk for final review.
The next meeting of CB18 will be held on Wednesday, June 16th at 7 p.m.