Last month New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced an agreement to improve accessibility in 95% of subway stations in New York City that currently lack elevators or ramps. According to a press release by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agreement is part of a class-action settlement between the MTA and accessibility advocates. While it is still “subject to court approval, a notice period where class members will have the opportunity to comment, and a fairness hearing,” the plan will ostensibly see the completion of accessibility upgrades by 2055.
As an analysis by Construction Dive explains, a 2018 report revealed that “nearly 200,000 New Yorkers with disabilities lived in neighborhoods that lacked a single accessible subway station.” By installing elevators and ramps in currently inaccessible subway stations, the MTA will make subway travel available to people with disabilities as well as the elderly and parents (and other caretakers) traveling with children in strollers. The MTA’s press release notes its “ongoing mission” to increase accessibility at subway stations, with projects completed at “15 subway stations across four boroughs since 2020.” Contracts have been awarded for 22 additional stations, with 13 more “in procurement.”
In a statement about the announcement, Governor Hochul said, “This agreement between the MTA and accessibility advocates is a critical step towards further expanding accessibility in our subways and serving the needs of New Yorkers with disabilities. My administration will continue to ensure that New York State is accessible for all.”
“Even during the dire financial crisis brought on by the pandemic, the MTA prioritized accessibility, leading to the completion of 15 accessibility projects,” said Janno Lieber, Chair and CEO of the MTA. “There will be 81 more projects in progress by the end of the 2020-2024 capital plan, which includes a historic $5.2 billion dedicated to accessibility upgrades. These commitments, combined with recently enacted zoning that incentivizes private developers to incorporate station accessibility projects into their buildings, will help us achieve a fully accessible transit system much faster than ever before imagined.”