Dyckman St. accessibility suit settled

By · Published in 2011

A rendering of the refurbished Dyckman Street station where an elevator will one day service the southbound platform.

When the MTA announced a comprehensive rehab at Dyckman St. — not one of the stations on their original list of 100 for ADA compliance — the United Spinal Association filed suit to halt the project until it was deemed ADA-compliant. Today, the U.S.A. announced a settlement in the suit, and as such, the MTA will install an elevator servicing the southbound platform at Dyckman Street.

“Installing elevators during scheduled station renovations goes far to promote transportation access for people who use wheelchairs. This is a significant resolution that will enhance subway access for all users of the station with mobility challenges,” James Weisman, SVP & General Counsel of United Spinal Association, said. “More mass transit access decreases the demand for Access-A-Ride, MTA’s expensive alternative.”

The elevator is still a few years away though. The current Dyckman St. rehab, at a cost of $24 million, is set to wrap in phases. The uptown platform will reopen this August, and the downtown platform will close for 10 months. It is likely that the MTA will put the elevator out to bid in 2012 with an expected opening date in 2014.

Still, advocates are thrilled with the resolution. “We want to commend the MTA for working with us to improve accessibility for our clients who use wheelchairs, particularly as transportation options for the disabled in New York City are scarce,” Julia Pinover, an attorney with the Disability Rights Advocates and a former classmate of mine, said. “The settlement will truly benefit everyone in the community. In addition to accessibility for people using wheelchairs, an elevator will also provide vital transport access for people who have age or injury related mobility impairments, people carrying unwieldy bags, and caregivers with strollers.”

The MTA, in a statement, expressed its commitment to improve accessibility as well, how ever slow that progress may be. “We are pleased that we will be able to improve accessibility for our customers at Dyckman Street,” Transit said. “MTA New York City Transit has always included ADA elements in station rehabs and remains committed to enhancing the accessibility of our stations to the extent that funding allows. To that end, we will continue to review the feasibility and need for elevators in connection with future station rehabilitations.”

27 Responses to “Dyckman St. accessibility suit settled”

  1. pete says:

    So when are we getting rid of the money wasting Access-A-Ride?

    • Namer says:

      When every single subway station is ADA compliant.

    • Christopher says:

      You’d still need access-a-ride. Although it would be a smaller program. Even systems that are totally accessible — SF or DC for example — still have access a ride type programs.

      • Alon Levy says:

        Doesn’t DC use escalators rather than elevators, providing only limited accessibility?

        • Bolwerk says:

          DC has elevators in at least some stations. There’s one at Union Station, for instance.

          • Aaron says:

            DC has elevators in all stations but they have been extremely unreliable every time I’m there. Honestly, even more unreliable than NYC, which is saying something.

      • Nathanael says:

        They’re much smaller programs though. Restricted to people with really severe disabilities which truly prevent them from using the subway system; mostly dialysis patients in some cities.

    • Aaron says:

      Access-a-Ride meets a number of criteria of the ADA, the primary one, even in a post-100%-accessible environment is to provide paratransit services to disabled individuals who, because of their disabilities, are unable to use regular public transit services. I believe that there is a series of agreements between New York State and the feds through the Department of Transportation that expand MTA’s paratransit services beyond the traditional definition to include services to assist individuals who are not able to access MTA services due to inaccessible subway stations.

      I surmise (but do not know) that those latter services will fall away once many more subway stations are accessible; the original paratransit service, to individuals who are unable to access public transit, is a continuing requirement of federal disability law in all jurisdictions that provide public transportation. Having said that, MTA has not kept its commitments regarding key station access, and so it’s likely that the expanded Access-a-Ride services will be continuing for awhile. MTA is not even close on its key station commitment, and as the capital improvement plan continues to be underfunded, the gulf will just widen.

  2. Jason says:

    Do you think some type of crossover will be installed with it or is there one already? I’m just thinking if disabled residents who need to use this are commuting back home, how will they get off the uptown platform to use this elevator?

    • pea-jay says:

      An elevator won’t be necessary. The Northbound platform is at grade level and a simple exit would suffice.

  3. Anon says:

    Is it me, or does it seem silly to only include an elevator on one side of the station? What about those patrons entering/exiting on the other side? Sometimes splitting the baby just doesn’t cut it….

  4. Al D says:

    Am I reading this right that 50% of the station is going to be ADA accessable? So you can make half of your trip then from this station?

      • John-2 says:

        This might make sense if 191st or 207th St were island platform stations, so that a direction switch could be made after only one stop. But you know once the people protesting figure out how limiting this option is going to be, they and the MTA will be back in court to put another elevator in on the northbound side.

        • My guess is that the settlement bars another action — at the very least by the same parties. It doesn’t appear as though this will be considered a fully accessible station. It’s just one with more accessibility than it had before, and the lawsuit has been dropped in return.

          • Jason B says:

            The northbound side is against a hill and is at grade level. It might mean a handicapped gate needs to be installed on the hill but an elevator isn’t necessary like it is on the southbound side.

    • Christopher says:

      Maybe it’s a vast conspiracy to get those with mobility problems out of the neighborhood, knowing they won’t be able to come back? /snark

      And i’m glad the group responsible brought up that this is more than just those in wheelchairs … many people, including many older americans, have mobility problems that prevent them from using the subway system.

  5. John Paul N. says:

    The next question becomes, will this be a rinse-and-repeat situation with other stations that are scheduled for renovation? I’m torn as to whether I like the “key stations”/highest ridership first approach or the regional approach since the station renovation schedule is done by line/region. One factor to think about: bus routes are not going be rerouted or eliminated on parallel streets when an elevator is installed; this has been done in other cities (Chicago, Washington D.C.), but I doubt it’s going to happen here.

    One missed opportunity is the Grand Avenue/Newtown station. A condo(?) development is going up at the corner of Broadway and Queens Boulevard, and that would have been a perfect area to place an elevator. There may be hope yet with the corner opposite Broadway, as I have not seen much activity there on that vacant property for years. (I think it was a bank.)

    • al says:

      The vacant lot was a gas station prior to being a bank.

    • al says:

      The vacant lot was a gas station prior to being a bank.

    • Nathanael says:

      The *law* — the ADA — is that whenever a station is renovated by doing more than simple maintenance — by actual alterations — it must be made ADA-compliant. This is *in addition* to the key stations requirement.

      (There is a minor exception for grossly expensive changes, which is generally interpreted as ones where the compliance adds more than 20% to the cost. This does not apply to any of the station rehabs currently in progress; access is cheaper than 20% of the cost in each case.)

      Thus the lawsuit.

      Hopefully the MTA will start obeying the law with all station renovations, but they’re still breaking the law in Brooklyn, so I have my doubts.

    • Nathanael says:

      To be clear, there was debate before the ADA was passed, and there’s a reason there are two separate requirements, one for key stations, and one for any station that gets renovated.

      The ADA-compliance for all new and renovated stations requirement is the primary one, as it guarantees that eventually the entire system will become accessible. The key stations requirement was to make sure that in the intervening period (which would last decades, obviously) the system was, in practice, usable. (Imagine if all the minor stations were renovated and made accessible and NONE of the core stations were.)

  6. Juan Castillo says:

    If you were to recall a certain station rehabilitation project at the 191st Street stop back in 2003, when the (9) skip-stop train was in service, you probably wanted to ask yourself, “Why in the blue hell did they not make that stop ADA-accessible?” Here’s my answer to that question, “it was right under their noses the whole time, yet they never actually saw it.” I mean think about it, if you’re trying to head back home around the Dyckman Street and Nagle Avenue area and you’re in need of accessibility for your subway stop, you’d have to take the (1) train all the way up to last stop at Van Cortlandt Park-242nd Street station and wait on the same train to head back to Dyckman Street. If you’re trying to head to 231st Street in The Bronx, where it is the only bi-directional ADA-accessible subway stop on the (1) line, you’d have to take a South Ferry-bound train all the way down to 96th Street and transfer to a Bronx-bound train heading back up, which could be wasting your time. This is why the (1) train needs to have more ADA-accessibility in the Washington Heights area by adding elevators at the 191st, 181st, and 168th Streets stations, where it is accessible to/from trains heading in either direction. For both the 181st and 168th Streets stations, the MTA should try to raise the middle level between 2 staircases up to same level as the final step up to the top and then create those elevators, especially at 168th Street, where disabled customers can transfer to the (A) and (C) trains or head over to the nearby New York Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. For the 181st Street station, they can just create an elevator from street level to the mezzanine. This is what MTA should’ve done a long time ago, and I hope that they can get it done the right way.


  1. […] · Pratt student re-imagines use of Roosevelt Island smallpox hospital [Queens Gazette] · MTA adds elevator at Dyckman St., ends civil suit [Second Avenue Sagas] · Heat causing giant sinkhole on West 26th Street [Gawker] · And […]

  2. […] few weeks ago, the MTA settled a pending lawsuit concerning the Dyckman St. rehabilitation and the handicapped accessibility in Upper Manhattan. The […]

  3. […] local pols cut the ribbon on the rehabbed Dyckman Street station. After two years, $31 million and one lawsuit, the station, its new mezzanine and downtown-bound elevator opened. There’s also a new Arts […]

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>