Inaccessible Transit Turns NYC Into a Tribulation

In a short film for The New York Times, Jason DaSilva documents how New York's famed public transit system, which serves millions of riders every day, fails the city's disabled residents.
January 18, 2013, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"While New York prides itself on being forward-thinking, I’m surprised that it lags behind other cities in accommodating its disabled population," says Brooklyn resident Jason DaSilva, who has multiple sclerosis. "I’ve traveled to London, Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco and Washington, and basked in their accessibility options. Ramps! Wheelchair taxis! Accessible trains! Fully accessible buildings! Oh, the luxury! Then, back to New York, where, although public buses are accessible, most transportation for me ranges from difficult (like the East River Ferry, which runs at different intervals, depending on the time of day) to feeling as if we’re in the Dark Ages."

In the documentary he produced for the times, DaSilva examines the challenges that New York's disabled face in trying to navigate the city. He compares the journey from his home in Williamsburg to a coffee shop in Manhattan for someone using a wheelchair and someone able-bodied. DaSilva's friend, without wheelchair, completes the trip in 13 minutes. By wheelchair, the same trip takes 1:43 via a jumble of transfers and modes. 

"Of course," writes DaSilva, "upgrading facilities or taxis is expensive, and change takes time, but the question is, how much time? How long do we have to wait? People with disabilities should enjoy the freedoms that everyone in society deserves. This is a human rights issue."

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Published on Thursday, January 17, 2013 in The New York Times
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