Who Has Access to NYC Subways?

For many people with mobility challenges, just getting to an accessible subway station in New York is an impossibility.

1 minute read

February 16, 2019, 7:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

New York Subway Stairs

Fancycrave.com / Pexels

Jugal K. Patel discusses findings of a New York Times analysis of subway accessibility. Over half a million people in New York City have issues walking, and two-thirds of them live more than a 10-minute walk from an accessible subway station. In addition, elevators are located in only about a quarter of the city’s subway stations.

"Most people with disabilities have to rely on an inefficient bus system or the Access-A-Ride program, a paratransit service run by the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that critics say is unreliable," notes Patel.

The analysis also considers the challenges of navigating the subway with young children, after a mother with her child died last month when she fell down the stairs at a station. Spatial analysis of where children are located in the city shows that large numbers are in neighborhoods far from stations with elevators.

The MTA has plans to put in 50 new elevators in the next five years, and the agency also now has an accessibility chief position. But, disability rights advocates say it is not enough and too much of the subway system still remains off limits to most people who have difficulty walking.

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