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Where the Subway Limits New Yorkers With Disabilities (and Strollers)

ADA Sign Depot

February 13, 2019

Subway Limits New Yorkers With Disabilities

By JUGAL K. PATEL FEB. 11, 2019

The subway is tightly woven into the daily routine of many New Yorkers, but it remains largely inaccessible or dangerous to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the city. The recent death of a mother who fell down a flight of stairs while carrying a stroller has drawn new scrutiny to the transit challenges many riders have to overcome every day.

In the city, there are 550,000 residents who have difficulty walking. Two-thirds of them live far from an accessible subway station, a New York Times analysis has found.

New York Population Under 5 Years Old

Only about a quarter of the 472 subway stations in the city have elevators — one of the lowest percentages of any major transit system in the world. The map above estimates where people are underserved by showing areas that are more than 10 minutes away from an accessible station, but the number of New Yorkers who have problems accessing the subway is likely to be much higher.

“Many people with disabilities do not walk distances because they cannot stand for a period of time, are fatigued, have pain when walking,” said Susan Dooha, the executive director at the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York.

Most people with disabilities have to rely on an inefficient bus system or the Access-A-Ride program, a paratransit service run by the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that critics say is unreliable.

“I have had several instances where taking public transportation was near to impossible,” said Francisco Paz, who has a mobility disability and commutes from Queens to Staten Island daily for his job at the Center for Independence of the Disabled. “I don’t have any accessible train stations near me, and the bus stops are remote and out in the open, exposed to the elements.”

Parents with strollers also struggle to navigate the subway, as highlighted by the death of Malaysia Goodson last month. Families with young children live in every corner of the city, including large numbers in neighborhoods like Borough Park in southern Brooklyn, northern Corona in Queens and Claremont Village in the Bronx. Many residents of those neighborhoods are not near stations with elevators.

Hard to Reach NY Subway Stations with Elevators

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to install 50 new elevators over the next five years, and Andy Byford, the subway’s leader, hired Alex Elegudin to be the authority’s first accessibility chief.

Those improvements would still leave a majority of stations inaccessible to those who have difficulty walking. “The reasonable standard is following the Americans with Disabilities Act and N.Y.C. Human Rights Law and having all stations made accessible,” Ms. Dooha said.

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