MTA to make 21 Brooklyn subway stations wheelchair-accessible in five-year plan

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced 21 Brooklyn subway stations it plans to make wheelchair accessible over the next five years, including the Hoyt-Schermerhorn stop in Downtown Brooklyn, which only has an elevator from the street to the mezzanine level.
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to make 21 Brooklyn subway stations wheelchair-accessible over the next five years.

The Authority is reserving the upgrades for heavily trafficked stations located in accessibility deserts throughout Brooklyn, which remains one of the most difficult borough’s to traverse for disabled straphangers, according to one disability advocate.

“Brooklyn is really poorly served when it comes to ADA in the subway system, so this is a good start,” said Joe Rappaport, the head of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled.

Some Brooklyn subway lines disenfranchise entire neighborhoods of disabled commuters, such as the R line in Bay Ridge or the F train between Kensington and Coney Island.

Transit workers are currently laboring to enhance accessibility along the R line — installing elevators at 59th, 86th, and 95th street stations — and have plans to upgrade the transit hub at 36th Street, where local riders can transfer to the N and D trains, under the new plan.

The announcement also includes new elevators for four stops along the F train in central and southern Brooklyn, elevators for the L, J, and Z trains platforms at the Broadway Junction stop in Cypress Hills, where straphangers are forced to ascend a vertigo-inducing series of escalators and staircases, and a new elevator at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station in Downtown Brooklyn, where the developer of a neighboring building constructed a street-to-mezzanine elevator last year, but which requires riders to descend a flight stairs to access it.

A full list of the stations earmarked for accessibility upgrades can be found on the MTA’s website.

The transit agency named a citywide total of 44 subway stations in its accessibility master plan, which is one part of a record-breaking $51.1 billion 2020-2024 capital plan. Those stations are in addition to four pending accessibility upgrades included in the Authority’s 2019 capital plan, bringing the grand total of accessible stations to 48, according to the city’s transit tzar.

“These 48 stations are a terrific first step and help get us closer than ever to achieving system-wide accessibility that all New Yorkers deserve,” said Andy Byford, the Authority’s head of New York City Transit.

The agency has earmarked $5.2 billion of the upcoming five-year plan’s budget to make a total 66 stations accessible citywide — only about a quarter of the subway’s 472 stops currently have elevators.

Rappaport’s group is one of a cadre of disability advocate organizations that filed lawsuits against the agency last spring demanding all major station projects be accompanied by accessibility upgrades. He said that, while the large amount of station upgrades are promising, they remain little more than nice ideas without a legally-binding guarantee.

“Anyone who deals with the MTA — whether it’s announcements about two-minute delays or months-long service interruptions because of works — knows that the MTA doesn’t always keep it’s promises,” he said.

Agency spokeswoman Amanda Kwan said that the Authority’s accessibility list has not been finalized, and the enhancements remain dependent on the agency’s ability to cash in on various funding streams, including the state’s proposed congestion pricing tax.

The Authority plans to add 22 additional stations to it’s accessibility master plan after taking public input, before a review board with reps from city and state governments green light the scheme sometime between early October and the end of the year.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 12:00 pm, September 25, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Stevie Z from Bensonhurst says:
I am still boggled that all that money was spent to redo the Smith/9th St station and if wasn't made accessible. Worse, there is one set of stairs at the very top. They couldn't have put in one more set of escalators?
Sept. 25, 2019, 2:08 pm
Tyler from pps says:
$5.2 billion for retrofitting 66 stations? Seriously, when are the purchasing and bidding processes in this state going to be looked at? We need leadership that will say, "NO. That's ridiculous. All bids rejected. Try again."
Sept. 25, 2019, 4:09 pm
Larry Penner from Great Neck says:
Here are two ways to obtain financial support to pay for accelerating the number of subway stations to reach compliance with the Americans Disabilities Act. The MTA receives $1.4 billion in annual assistance from various Federal Transit Administration formula funding grant programs. The MTA based upon the courts decision will have to update their long term Americans Disability Act Key Stations Compliance Plan with FTA. This is currently in place and approved by the Federal Transit Administration Washington Headquarters Office of Civil Rights. Without an approved plan in place, it is difficult for the FTA to approve any new grant funding. The upcoming MTA $51 billion 2020 - 2024 Five Year Capital Plan has programmed significant funding to dramatically increase the number of additional subway stations reaching full ADA compliance Why not ask any major business, college or hospital who benefit from subway stations adjacent to their facility to sponsor installation of elevator(s). Let them split the cost 50% with the MTA NYC Transit in exchange for naming rights to the elevator(s). The MTA may have to make some difficult decisions as to what other projects and programs may have to be canceled or reduced in the next $51 billion or more MTA 2020 - 2024 Five Year Capital Plan to find additional funding for installation of ADA compliant elevators at more subway stations. (Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA, NYC Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road and NYC Department of Transportation along with 30 other NY & NJ transit agencies).
Sept. 25, 2019, 6:26 pm
Bob from gerritsen beach says:
good news
Sept. 25, 2019, 7:14 pm
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
I still don't trust #CuomosMTA, especially from Governor Cthulhu himself, on how to properly spend our own money through taxes, fares, fees and tolls. Then again, we need every station ADA accessible because the MTA must comply with the federal ADA, in which they have a lot of problems with for years.
Sept. 26, 2019, 7:07 am

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