Home Brooklyn On Smith/9th Sts. and ADA compliance

On Smith/9th Sts. and ADA compliance

by Benjamin Kabak

Smith/9th Sts. towers over Brooklyn, but the platforms do not have elevator access from street level. (Photo: MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann)

When the Culver Viaduct’s Smith/9th Sts. station reopened on Friday, the politicians came out en masse to support the station. Although the MTA acknowledged the delay in restoring F and G train service to Red Hook’s subway connection to the rest of the city, politicians made more than mere note of the delay.

“Finally, the long, long wait my constituents suffered is at an end,” City Councilwoman Sara M. Gonzalez said. “While the delays continued, residents of Red Hook endured longer waiting times and distances. I am confident they will like what they see as they begin to utilize this station again. Now, whether their transit needs are for employments, health, entertainment, academic or other personal choices, they will leave and arrive in this splendidly transformed station and I share in their joy. I look forward to advocating further with Red Hook residents as we seek further transit improvement options.”

What no one mentioned was the station’s lack of elevator access, and as riders returned to the station — even as work continued, in fact — I’ve received more questions concerning the MTA’s ADA obligations than just about anything else related to the project. Local business owners voiced their outrage on Twitter. “Smith/9th St subway station: $32 million, 2 years, no handicap access,” the social media arm of Seersucker, a restaurant on Smith St. above the Carroll St. station, noted. “How did NYC officials let that happen?” They’re not the only ones wondering, and so I set out to investigate why Smith/9th Sts., 87.5 feet above the Gowanus Canal, contains escalators and stairs but no elevators.

According to the MTA’s release on the station reconstruction, the $32 million projected included “ADA features” but not ADA accessibility. Stair risers and treads are now uniform dimension, and handrails are at the proper height and size. The platform edges now contain tactile warning strips as well. But that’s it, and with more steps leading up to the station entrance, it’s now even harder for straphangers with limited mobility to navigate the station.

The MTA has already fielded inquiries concerning ADA-accessibility at this station, and spokesman Kevin Ortiz issued a statement: “The design for ADA elevators at this station was structurally unwieldy and financially prohibitive due to the station’s layout.” I spoke to Ortiz yesterday afternoon, and he elaborated on the situation. Considering the geography of the station over the canal and its height, the MTA estimated requiring four to six elevators to make this station ADA-compliant, and given the ridership — under 5000 fares per day, 286 out of 421 and 93 out of 157 in Brooklyn — the elevators were cost-prohibitive and economically inefficient.

“But what of the ADA requirements?” an astute observer may ask. It’s a valid question as the ADA appears to require transit agencies to spend some part of a project on ADA upgrades and generally require rebuilds to be ADA compliant. As I understand it from MTA sources though, the agency has an ADA waiver. They must outfit 100 Key Stations with full ADA access by the end of the decade, and the MTA is currently ahead of schedule. But for new projects, they can argue for an exemption if doing so is structurally infeasible. If a 90-foot high station that spans a body of water wouldn’t qualify there, I don’t know what would.

Furthermore, that there has been no lawsuit filed against the MTA strikes me as strong evidence against any wrong-doing as well. Disabled riders and their legal advocates are not shy about flexing their muscles. They successfully sued for ADA upgrades at Dyckman St., and the MTA’s settlement included promises of an elevator. Two years after Smith/9th Sts. station shuttered and around five years after plans were first unveiled, no court challenges to the plans exist.

So what remains is a tough situation made worse by circumstance. No one in the 1930s anticipated the ADA when building the station, and now, in 2013, we have a new station without full ADA access. It strikes me as a situation with no good answer.

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Berk32 April 30, 2013 - 12:43 am

The street level station house isn’t under the platforms…

Where do the elevators go?

you’d have to build a new structure halfway up somehow (between and thru the beams holding the tracks up)

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 1:41 pm

Where do the elevators go? I always thaught they go up & down, that is unless we’re talking about “Willy Wanka & the chocolate Factory.”

Nathanael May 7, 2013 - 11:54 pm

“As I understand it from MTA sources though, the agency has an ADA waiver. ”

The MTA certainly does not have a generic waiver. (I don’t know about Smith/9th specifically; if there is a specific waiver from the Architectural Review Board for Smith/9th, I suggest they publish it.)

“But for new projects, they can argue for an exemption if doing so is structurally infeasible.”

Everyone can do this.

“If a 90-foot high station that spans a body of water wouldn’t qualify there, I don’t know what would.”
It doesn’t qualify….

….Largely because it wold be perfectly trivial to extend the platforms east and build a ground-level station house on the PARKING LOTS there. Requiring a sum total of TWO elevators.

The MTA is deliberately sabotaging ADA compliance.

Benjamin Kabak May 7, 2013 - 11:58 pm

Then why has no one sued? I’ve spoken with a few people at the MTA and while their answers aren’t completely satisfactory, I haven’t heard a compelling counterargument either. Disabilities advocates aren’t shy about lawsuits, but nothing has happened here and now the station is open again.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:00 am

“It strikes me as a situation with no good answer.”

The good answer is for the MTA to actually make an effort to design wheelchair-accessible stations when it is completely reconstructing a station from the ground up. It didn’t. Other cities do. It often involves relocating the station in one direction or another.

There are stations where wheelchair access is truly impractical — deep tube stations with obstructions directly above them. On an elevated station, it’s *always* practical if you have to rebuild it anyway.

The worst part about it is that this is not just Smith/9th. The MTA has rebuilt all the stations along an entire line and refused to make ANY of them accessible.

The fact is that wheelchair-access advocates in NYC don’t actually sue that often. It gets tiring, since they’ve been suing the MTA and its predecessors for its bad behavior for nearly FORTY YEARS now, and the MTA STILL refuses to make good-faith efforts at compliance with the Rehabilitation Act, let alone the ADA.

The MTA’s behavior is truly egregious when you compare it to the behavior of Boston or Chicago, both of which are making steady, incremental progress.

Every time a station gets rebuilt in Boston or Chicago, the necessary improvements are there. In a decade or two, Boston and Chicago will have 99%-accessible systems, possibly 100%… and NYC will have an entire system most of which STILL needs retrofitting, because they failed to do it when they were rebuilding stations anyway.

Alex C April 30, 2013 - 12:54 am

Elevators wouldn’t work anyways. Anybody who sues for elevators would be suing ensure that nine digits be spent putting in those 6 elevators.

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 10:02 am

What in the world are you posting. Yes, elevators aren’t cheep, but they are NOT that costly.

Benjamin Kabak April 30, 2013 - 10:04 am

My guess is that it would been a low 8-figure installation, but considering the possible need to brace the entire viaduct to withstand the weight of the elevators, it wouldn’t have been cheap.

al April 30, 2013 - 4:59 pm

2 elevators and a street level fare control under the viaduct near the Lowe’s parking lot driveway will do the trick. The potential obstacle is moving a business out of that spot under the viaduct.

al April 30, 2013 - 5:06 pm

Lowe’s Parking Lot Driveway Location
+40° 40′ 25.39″, -73° 59′ 44.40″

MaximusNYC May 1, 2013 - 10:26 pm

Yes, that would be easier than having the elevators operate out of the existing fare control area. But you’d probably need a staffed booth at the new fare control, so that an employee could open the gate for wheelchair-using customers. And you’d probably need a mezzanine level where someone going to the northbound platform could get out of the elevator from street level and cross over to an elevator going up to the northbound platform. The elevator from street level might be able to then continue up to the southbound platform. But none of this would be cheap.

I know they haven’t finished construction at the nearby 4th Ave./9th St. station, also on the viaduct. Anyone know if they are they putting in elevators there?

MaximusNYC May 1, 2013 - 10:30 pm

Ah, I see my question is answered below: no elevators at 4th/9th.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:01 am

Because the MTA has no intention of complying with the ADA.

Alex C May 1, 2013 - 12:36 am

Number of elevators and the structure. They’d need to do lots of modifications and fortifications.

Adirondacker12800 April 30, 2013 - 1:35 am

No one in the 1930s anticipated the ADA when building the station,

No one in the 1930s anticipated antibiotics either. There were a lot less people in wheelchairs around in 1930. People in wheelchairs are susceptible to infections…..

Bolwerk April 30, 2013 - 9:42 am

I’ve said it before: we have it backwards. We pay for roads for the able-bodied, and then expect our underfunded transit agencies to accommodate people with severe disabilities.

This is just one more case where subsidizing taxis for the disabled might actually be cheaper, and more dignifying for the disabled. Let the able-bodied take the train.

Hank April 30, 2013 - 9:49 am

Agreed re the unfunded mandate point. That does not mean we shouldn’t try to retrofit where possible though.
Re taxis, you may have a point as access-a-ride is a boondoggle of epic porportions

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 10:15 am

I cant agree more, but having all forms of public transit accessable regardless of the form it takes, is best for the disabled community over all. Always keep in mind that two people with the same disability DO NOT nessessairily exibit it the same way.

Joseph Steindam April 30, 2013 - 10:39 am

While I agree in principle, and eagerly await the day when all taxis are accessible, this scheme would first need to address one issue with taxis: they are hard to find in the outer boroughs. This is absolutely not insurmountable, especially if the taxi fleet was deputized to handle paratransit service, it would require dispatchers to actively send taxis to cruise for fairs throughout the outer boroughs, and a taxi reservation system (which I think actually exists for the small number of accessible cabs) would need to be enhanced.

However, the ADA is intentionally about choice rather than providing the most effective service. By saying that transit is for the able-bodied, this could lead to a discrimination argument. Transit is a public good and must be available to all. Furthermore, ADA improvements are not used exclusively by the disabled, I’d feel safe in assuming the majority of the elevator rides are taken by people with strollers, or the elderly not in wheelchairs. They generally improve the rider experience for all. In a world of unlimited resources, I’d say that the taxi fleet and the transit network should be accessible, but in our reality, I’d look to the taxi fleet to net us savings on Access-A-Ride, which could then be funneled back into station and bus fleet ADA improvements.

Bolwerk April 30, 2013 - 11:32 am

All the shortcomings with the taxi infrastructure might take a few years to overcome, sure. Key point: a few years, as opposed to decades to proliferate ADA-accessible stations. The life of a yellow cab is, what, three years? Black cabs maybe last a few years longer. It would take one or two cycles of normal replacement to mostly solve the infrastructure side of the issue, and the best part is the money could be mostly private.

Also, I’m not saying ADA accessibility is always/automatically never the best answer, though being hard-assed about it is bad. The first goal should be mobility, and the “right to access” things you don’t access unless you’re trying to be mobile is obviously very secondary.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:02 am

You know what the biggest problem with taxis in NYC is?


In London, 100% of all taxis are wheelchair-accessible, and this was the case in the 1990s.

In NY, the city just hates people in wheelchairs, and so it deliberately chose a non-accessible taxi as the “Taxi of Tommorow” (more like Taxi of Yesterday).

Andrew L April 30, 2013 - 11:12 am

The goal of ADA is about a RIGHT to access a facility/infrastructure, not about ways to most cheaply delivering a service to disabled people.

Both are very different things.

Bolwerk April 30, 2013 - 11:26 am

The important right to consider is the right to mobility, which is where disabled people are the most vulnerable. While Hank is right – there is certainly a role for transit to play in offering mobility to the disabled – the key is proliferation of mobility. In this, transit is not always the best or most cost-effective option.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:03 am

You know? Sure. Fix the taxis! But NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is just as obnoxious and hostile to disabled people as the MTA is. See above.

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 11:39 am

Correct, however both points of view leed towards the same goal. Too ensure COMPLETE accessability as the ADA demands at a reasonable cost. Nobody will dispute that the way paratransit functions is far being cost effective, but until a better way can be aranged, we are stuck with bloated providers like Access a Ride.

I can tell you here in Westchester it’s not much better as paratransit costs are enormous. As a result, the county has restricted who can use such services & you are seeing more mobility challenged passengers on the bus these days. One of the restrictions is they may be required to transfer to the bus instead of always getting direct door to door service. I know the MTA made similar changes, but they ran into some resistance by vocal disability activists.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:06 am

Paratransit is designed to be punishingly expensive UNTIL the transit agency actually bothers to make its regular transit accessible. After that, it’s supposed to be cheap.

(It isn’t always cheap after that, and that’s recognized as a problem in the way the law works.)

But the fact that paratransit bankrupts transit agencies who refuse to make their bus and subway systems accessible… that is INTENTIONAL. If the MTA wishes to continue ignoring the spirit of the ADA, then it will go bankrupt, and it will deserve it, as Boston and Chicago look and say “What paratransit? Our entire systems are accessible, we don’t need it.”

Scott B. April 30, 2013 - 7:18 am

It could be designed for just three elevators. At the very least there should be a plan made and implemented over time.

John-2 April 30, 2013 - 7:40 am

I suppose the curve coming out of Carroll Street mandated the location of Smith-9th where it is today. But putting a station directly over a body of water is a bit on the odd side, when you think about the practicality of it and the difficulty 80 years after the fact in positioning the fare control to where ADA access would not be that big a headache (though the ‘four elevator’ argument by itself is a little disingenuous, since any IND side platform station with a mezzanine is going to require the expense of at least three elevators to be fully ADA compliant, just like an express station with a shared mezzanine on any subway line).

Kai B April 30, 2013 - 7:51 am

This might be a spot for diagonal escalators ala 34 St/11th Ave. I guess we’ll see when the next renovation happens in… 2093?

Part of the reason the MTA ADA projects are so expensive is because multiple elevators have to be installed due to the fare-control levels. Someone needs to think of a smart way to collect fares from riders that need ADA access, either at street level or at platform level, so that you can build one (island platform) or two (outer platform) elevators and be done with it.

This is why open (“honor”) systems have had a much easier time becoming accessible.

Larry Littlefield April 30, 2013 - 8:15 am

If the MTA gets ADA access at 100 key stations, and then the stations where it is feasible, that would be pretty good on a cost per disabled rider basis.

I wonder what the cost per disabled rider (who could not otherwise use the system) is right now, with the past incremental cost of ADA access put into a forever annual number on the basis that it was borrowed for and no one is paying that money back.

While ADA access would be nearly impossible at Smith/9th, it should be relatively easy at Carroll Street, if it doesn’t already exist, right?

John-2 April 30, 2013 - 9:30 am

Right now, according to the MTA’s station accessibility list, only Jay Street and Stillwell on the F in Brooklyn are ADA compliant. Around Smith-9th, Carroll would seem to be the easier station to ADA, though Fourth Avenue would be the more practical, if they could figure out how to tie the elevators behind fare control in on both the F/G and the R platforms, since that would not only make it accessible for the disabled, but offer alternative to those long stairs between the two platforms.

Benjamin Kabak April 30, 2013 - 9:32 am

Carroll St. is a bit tricky too. It’s easier to make the northern end ADA-compliant, but there are no station agents and only HEETs/emergency exits over there. The southern end has that weird cross-over with lots of different levels, but a creative solution could see that restructured.

Larry Littlefield April 30, 2013 - 10:27 am

I would think the easiest stations are those closest to the surface. If room could be found, say by removing a parking space or two, you could have a ramp down to the platform level on both sides.

At PPW an elevator might be required to get from the mezzanine to the platform. But it might be possible to install a ramp to the mezzanine in the parking lot within Prospect Park.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:39 am

The easiest stations are stations like Smith/9th, where the platforms are over a freaking parking lot.

Joseph Steindam April 30, 2013 - 10:18 am

Church Avenue is ADA accessible. I’d also agree that Fourth Avenue has potential as a good ADA candidate, because of the transfer to the R (which only has ADA accessible stations in Downtown Brooklyn), but making that complex accessible would require a fleet of elevators, at least 4 between the F/G platforms and both exits on 4th Avenue, with two likely going down to the R platforms. It’d be a massive undertaking.

John-2 April 30, 2013 - 11:01 am

If you could figure out a way to do either a mezzanine connection between Fourth Avenue and the elevated tracks, or even construct an overpass above the tracks, you could get by with as few as two elevators, so long as they were both behind fare control, now that both sides of Fourth Avenue have their station houses open again.

One elevator could connect the downtown Brooklyn-bound R and F/G platforms and another connecting the two south Brooklyn-bound ones. Anyone wanting to go from, say, the Manhattan-bound R to the Church Avenue-bound F or G could transfer on the mezzanine level or via the overpass above the Fourth Avenue tracks. Since fare control for the F/G is at street level, the main modification there would be to make the doors ADA accessible and put a ramp in place of the lone step.

It still wouldn’t be cheap, but it would be a way to provide all access for the disabled to the station without having to go the six elevator route.

Tower18 April 30, 2013 - 10:42 am

I would agree…if people should make a stink about anything, it should be Carroll St. They just re-did the southern entrance at 2nd Pl a few years back, with a brand new building sitting on top…they could have put an elevator in at that time without a whole ton of work (underground multi-level issues aside, as noted previously).

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:07 am

“I wonder what the cost per disabled rider (who could not otherwise use the system) is right now, ”

Look up the paratransit costs. Annualized, it’s gonna be cheaper than that.

lawhawk April 30, 2013 - 9:11 am

If elevators aren’t practical here (or elsewhere in the system), what then of the possibility of installing chair lifts?

Elevators might be the preferred option to meet ADA requirements, but it’s not the only way.

It wouldn’t be a perfect solution, but one that allows taking advantage of current spaces (the stairs) that flank the escalators. It would not only help meet ADA requirements, but help those who are pushing strollers/carriages or wheeled bags.

Drawbacks include possibly reducing the width of the stairs beyond some minimum requirement, maintenance of the lifts and making them vandal resistant.

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 9:18 am


As I recall, the ADA requires ANY STATION RENOVATION to be accessable UNLESS it is technicly impractible or imfeseable. Therefore as you note, a wavor was granted.

Now… are there nearby stations that can be retrofitted in substitution of Smith/ 9th for disabled customers?

As I noted before, Forest Hills-71st is in the renovation mode right now with all entrances on the south side of Queens Boulevard removed & sidewalks opened up in preparation for elevator installation. Soon enough work will begin on the north side. Meanwhile the platforms already have construction walls forming the shafts for those future elevators, but the platforms need a lot of work them selves beyond tactile warning strips.

Benjamin Kabak April 30, 2013 - 9:20 am

As I’ve been told, the MTA — and many major transit agencies — have negotiated exemptions that allow them some leeway from the requirements. These are very hush-hush though, and it’s tough to get a clear sense of the details.

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 9:50 am

As a person who is disabled, this topic has always fasinated me. Knowing there are other disabled posters here, I wonder Ben if you could please dedacate some space on this topic.


Phillip Roncoroni April 30, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Couldn’t those details be obtained through a FOIA request?

Benjamin Kabak April 30, 2013 - 12:02 pm

It could. I’m considering it.

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 1:34 pm

Please do, it can be eye openning.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:16 am

“As I’ve been told, the MTA — and many major transit agencies — have negotiated exemptions that allow them some leeway from the requirements.”

The MTA is lying.

“These are very hush-hush though, and it’s tough to get a clear sense of the details.”

Because they don’t exist. I am quite sure of this.

The MTA is NOT behaving in the same way as other transit agencies. I keep bringing your attention to Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, etc., all of which actually do their best to comply with the letter and the spirit of the law. The MTA doesn’t.

There is no procedure for negotiated “exemptions” from the ADA new-build requirements.

….now, New York and Philadelphia have special exemptions from the key-stations requirement, but the key-station requirement is *entirely separate* from the renovation requirement.

I believe that what New York is doing is claiming that their total, ground-up rebuilds of stations are merely “ordinary maintenance”, because they aren’t altering anything. Now, New York may get away with that, because unaltered stations don’t need to be made accessible — but it’s *completely slimy behavior* when they close a station for 2 years and rip it apart from top to bottom.

Now, there are also explicit exceptions in the law to the new-build requirements for technically infeasible or impractical situations. Impractical has typically been defined by courts and agencies as costing more than 20% of the project. The MTA has, in a case of additional slimy behavior, segmented projects so that an elevator will cost more than 20% of each project. Even though the MTA is rebuilding every single station on a branch all at once, they count them separately in order to attempt to evade the law. This *is* illegal.

By contrast, other transit agencies routinely go above and beyond the 20% requirement. London recognizes that elevators are good for everyone and attempts to put them in whenever practical… and their definition of impossible is much more generous than the cramped, deliberately hostile definition of the MTA.

The fact is that the MTA’s policies regarding station reconstruction violate the *basic* anti-discrimination rule of the ADA: they do not make an effort to provide equal service. So it doesn’t really matter if they weasel out of the specific requirements, they’re *still* guilty due to a pattern and practice of not giving a damn. This is *NOT* the case for other agencies, all of which are making a good faith effort at this point.

D in Bushwick April 30, 2013 - 9:35 am

Thank you Benjamin for digging a little deeper into this subject. Despite some of the flippant comments here claiming it’s impossible to add elevators, rational people know better. Of course it’s possible but not easy. How about a funicular?
What’s even more ridiculous is that it took 2 YEARS for this above ground renovation. That is pure incompetence that only the MTA seems to embrace. And the columns and beams below are still wrapped in tar-paper…

AlexB April 30, 2013 - 10:33 am

I agree that this station presented numerous challenges to installing elevators, but there is also a more pressing need to install them here. All of the public housing in Red Hook likely has a larger number of disabled people, and this is the closest subway to them. Instead of having elevators at every stage of the fare control system, there should be a way to have a special gate at street level that is opened only by the person at the booth it would go up to a below platform level that provides a second and third elevator to either platform. Or provisions should have been made for something like this in the future.

Tower18 April 30, 2013 - 10:49 am

It’s obviously not guaranteed because everyone is different, but chances are that these folks who are disabled are not walking to Smith/9th. And if they’re already on a bus, both the B57 and B61 each run directly to other stations that are better candidates for ADA access.

It is what it is. Some stations will probably never be ADA accessible, and this is likely one of them.

Andrew L April 30, 2013 - 11:16 am

If so, there should be a timetable for their closure.

It is like places that, back in the day (the 1960s), couldn’t fit separate bathrooms for women, didn’t want to have unisex bathrooms for fears of lawsuits, and then decided to shut down bathrooms altogether.

Woody April 30, 2013 - 11:51 am

Because some people cannot be accommodated, we should close down all such stations?

Usually I’m very sympathetic on ADA issues. And being soon to turn 69 years with arthritis in my hips, I take the elevators more and more. (btw I step aside when I see people using wheelchairs or canes or baby carriages. Retired, I got time to wait for the next ride.)

But to say we should close stations so that schoolchildren and others must walk another 10 blocks or more to use the subway is frothing-mouthed insane.

And do you really think we are better off because there are fewer toilets available now when we need them? Get real. Like other 69-year-old men sometimes I need to go so urgently it’s damn near a medical emergency. I’d risk muggers and unisex, uh, incidents to use a toilet, and toilet.

But you are pleased that toilets have been closed? Wipe your nose, son, and soon will come the day when you start to think about wearing Depends.

AlexB April 30, 2013 - 12:34 pm

I’m not saying there aren’t alternatives to an ADA accessible Smith-9th, I’m just explaining that there may be reasons why this station may have deserved some extra attention. The station is far from places in Red Hook like the Fairway and IKEA, but only a few blocks away from the closest housing projects; and, we all know how reliable those buses are. A renovated station that is not accessible is still much better than a non-renovated station, but it would have been 100% complete if it were made ADA accessible.

Woody April 30, 2013 - 2:00 pm

AlexB, Relax. I wasn’t arguing against your point. You were not the one who proposed “a timetable for their closure” of all non-compliant subway stations. You didn’t claim that closing toilets for being less than perfect was somehow a good thing. LOL.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:19 am

Woody: at this point, the MTA is blatantly foot-dragging.

I would say this.

At the point at which the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia systems are fully accessible, any remaining non-accessible stations in NY should be closed permanently until they are made accessible. Maybe that would get someone’s attention.

And nobody else in the country would be sympathetic to NY’s whines about how hard it is to make the stations accessible, because *they would all have done it already*.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:26 am

(For reference, this is likely to take 20-30 years. Boston is closest. If NY had been installing handicapped access during major renovations, *as it should have been*, NY would be done in 20-30 years too.)

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:35 am

For additional reference, London is having serious trouble with providing wheelchair access — it will probably take more than 30 years.

Compared to London, New York has it easy. The IND stations have reasonable-sized platforms, as do the later BRT stations (London has lots of extremely narrow platforms); almost no stations are on steep slopes (London has dozens, many underground); South Ferry is the only station with extremely sharp curves (London has dozens); nearly all platforms are at boarding height for the trains (London — nope!); there’s only one boarding height for the trains (London — nope, three different standards!), et cetera.

Despite this challenge, London is making a serious plan to attempt to make the entire system wheelchair-accessible eventually, and is treating it as an opportunity — to assist people with strollers, to fix other station problems, etc. By contrast, New York MTA has a bad attitude, and there’s no other way to describe it.

Scott B. April 30, 2013 - 11:41 am

Hmm… If renovated stations require ADA compliance then there were a number of wavers granted in the Rockaways. They renovated every station an only Mott Ave. and Rockaway Park are ADA compliant. Broad Channel is being renovated now, shouldn’t it become ADA compliant. It’s actually not a difficult station to convert. It would need three elevators (unless they utilize a fare control system at street level, then you can do it with two elevators).

More riders pass through that station then reported on the MTA’s numbers because it doesn’t take into account the number of people who transfer from the S to the A and visa versa. If you take an S from Rockaway Park and want to continue to the other ADA station at Mott Ave you can not transfer at Broad Channel. You would have to continue your trip on a Manhattan bound A to Howard Beach and then return on a Far Rockaway bound A.

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 1:24 pm

Part of the ADA mesurement for accessability includes end stations, transfers between transit modes, trip generators & passenger usage. Of those last two catagories, The Rockaways falls short. So as a result, the MTA must have been granted a wavor despite the laws intent & recent station remoddles. Compare this to both Mott Avenue & Howard Beach where you have both an end station & a connection to other modes of transit. In that case, no wavor would be granted regardless of ridership numbers.

Scott B. April 30, 2013 - 1:44 pm

Broad Channel is an end station for the S train which also makes it a transfer point. So what would the excuse be at this station?

SEAN April 30, 2013 - 5:57 pm


What busses serve Broad Channel. BC is mostly a transfer station between A & Rockaway shuttle trains. Technicly BC should be accessable, but I’ll guess that ridership figgures are too low to justify such construction.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:22 am

There’s no “waiver” procedure.

There’s an Architectural Review Board procedure for iffy situations. And then there’s the courts.

If the MTA is doing a large block of stations, and 20% of the money is only enough to make a percentage of the stations accessible, the MTA is permitted to only make slightly more than that percentage of the stations accessible. This is, however, discouraged. And on top of that, the MTA is required to make as much of each station accessible as can be done easily.

Rob April 30, 2013 - 1:24 pm

You have joined the bandwagon wasting our time obsessing about mutinae. So the best use of an extra $30 mil or so would be to put in a bunch of elevators for a handful of people? Please!

Christopher April 30, 2013 - 4:18 pm

The Washington Metro’s opening was delayed because the stations weren’t all handicap accessible. City’s around the country have accessibility laws that go above and beyond those required by ADA and have had them for much longer. NYC does a terrible disservice to the disabled — both permanently disabled and the temporary disabled. With an aging population, this issue is going to be more and more important. Our roads, our sidewalks our subways are terribly inconvenient for people with mobility issues. And that’s something we should be worried about; it affects the quality of life here and it affects the openness of NYC as a place to live throughout one’s life.

Nathanael May 8, 2013 - 12:23 am

My fiancee has mobility problems. As a result, I don’t even visit NYC if I can avoid it.

Chicago is farther, but *Chicago has better handicapped access*, so I visit Chicago by preference.

This isn’t just the subway. Chicago has lots of handicapped-accessible taxis. New York doesn’t.

There is a bad attitude in New York. It is criminal and it needs to stop.


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