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"Only about a quarter of New York City’s 472 subway stations are wheelchair accessible, one of the lowest percentages of any major transit system in the world," write Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Rebecca Liebson. But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is planning to add elevators to 70 stations over the next five years at a cost of $5.5 billion.
While transit advocates argue the cost is too high, MTA officials say installing elevators can involve additional measures such as moving staircases and utilities and paying for street-level space. "Still, subway leaders have said they want to bring down the costs and are looking to other cities for lessons," say Fitzsimmons and Liebson.
Accessibility is a priority for MTA president Andy Byford. Governor Andrew Cuomo says he also wants to put accessibility at the top of the list. But critics argue that the governor’s plan is failing to address the issues.
"The more than $800 million plan, known as the Enhanced Station Initiative, aimed to give more than two dozen stations a makeover, but none received elevators. Instead, the stations got new tiles and LED lighting — part of a focus by Mr. Cuomo on aesthetics," note Fitzsimmons and Liebson.