In last week’s issue of the Downtown Express, Laura Latzko examined handicapped access and the subways. As we know, many subway stops aren’t very handicap-accessible, and Latzko’s story highlights how many key hubs are lacking in amenities and how handicapped riders have to change their routes to get around the city.
More important, though, is Latzko’s hints at things to come:
By 2020, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has promised to make 100 key stations accessible, as part of a plan it developed after the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted in 1990…
Funding issues also contribute to the system’s inaccessibility. [NYC Transit spokesperson James] Anyansi said that it costs on average $5 million to $7 million to put an elevator in a subway and $15 million to $20 million to make a station accessible, with mezzanine and street elevators.
So therein lies the rub. The MTA knows its system is not handicap-friendly, and the authority knows that every time it renovates a station, it must make that station ADA-compliant. But adhering to those ADA measures costs up to $20 million. It is, in other words, cost-prohibitive for the MTA to make its system handicap-friendly.
Over the next decade, come funding hell or high water, the MTA will overhaul a bunch of key stations. This set of stations will include the Broadway-Lafayette/Bleeker St. hub with the B, D, F, V and 6 all merging at a common point. The agency will also try to work out their handicap-accessibility at many other key stations.
But again, this is an issue that relies on funding. Until the MTA can receive adequate funding, yet another sub-population in New York City will be left with sub-par subway access. This sounds like a very common refrain these days, and hopefully, one day soon, our elected representatives will begin to tackle these funding problems. I am not holding my breath.