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Disability Activists Sue New York MTA

Two class action lawsuits take New York’s inaccessible metro system to task.
May 1, 2017, 1pm PDT | Elana Eden
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According to state and federal lawsuits filed April 20, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority's lack of elevators and poor maintenance practices constitute discrimination against people with disabilities.

"More than 75 percent of the city’s 472 subway stations have no elevators, lifts or other alternatives to stairs," giving the MTA the lowest accessibility rate of the 10 largest transit systems in the country, according to the New York Times.

The plaintiffs, represented by Disability Rights Advocates, want the court to require the MTA to change the way it deals with elevator maintenance and to develop a long-term plan to improve the system's accessibility.

In March, the Times ran a feature on how the state of the subway system impacts disabled residents, sometimes shutting them out of public life. One plaintiff who uses a wheelchair said, "Because of the lack of elevators, my disability really comes to the forefront in terms of what activities I can engage in, in the city."

He takes a different subway line uptown after work in order to catch another line back to Brooklyn to reach a station with an elevator for southbound commuters. He said he regularly cancels social engagements if he finds there is no viable way to travel to a station with a working elevator. And he has counted more than 200 elevator failures in the last two and a half years — about one for every eight trips he takes, he said.

An MTA spokesperson said the agency is spending $1 billion to bring 25 more stations into compliance with the ADA, and estimated it would take $10 billion to complete the rest.

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Published on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in New York Times
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