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Via Garibaldi 8

Judge Tells MTA To Find Money For More Subway Elevators: 'You Find It For Other Things'

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Judge Tells MTA To Find Money For More Subway Elevators: 'You Find It For Other Things'

052319wheelchair.jpg

Accessibility advocate Edith Prentiss commuting by subway in 2013. (Max Rivlin-Nadler / Gothamist)

The reason we have as many elevators in the subway as we do now is because disability rights groups sued the MTA in 1979 and won, forcing the agency to install 54 elevators in stations scattered throughout the system. And that requirement later expanded to 100 elevators by 2020. (The 1979 ruling also led to the creation of the Access-A-Ride program.)

Now, turning to the power of the courts again, disability advocates want to force the MTA to install elevators at every subway station. Out of 472 stations, only 120 are accessible. The current capital plan includes funding for elevators at 25 more stations.

Momentum is building for a more rapid expansion, fueled in part by legal action.

In March, a judge ruled that the MTA had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it did a $27 million renovation at the Bronx Middletown Road station but failed to install an elevator. Advocates quickly filed a class action lawsuit, building on that ruling. And this week, a judge announced he could have a ruling as soon as next month on whether the MTA is violating state human rights law by failing to install elevators.

On Tuesday in State Supreme Court, Justice Shlomo Hagler thanked the gallery full of wheelchair users for showing up to court, and he criticized the MTA for not reaching a settlement with the plaintiffs over the past year. He said not having the money wasn’t an excuse anymore. “No money? Find it. You find it for other things,” he said to the MTA’s three lawyers. “There has to be action, no more talk.”

The MTA’s press shop pointed out that New York City Transit President Andy Byford has a plan to create 50 accessible stations in five years and hopes to get full accessibility by 2034.

Advocates said they wanted it in writing.

"We don’t have any binding agreements from the MTA and that's what we really need,” said Susan Dooha, executive director of Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY, a plaintiff in three of the four cases.

“People like Byford come and go; political winds change,” she said. “We need a binding enforceable agreement to make sure the entire system will become accessible, not just a few stations and then stop.”

While the ADA requires the MTA to make stations accessible anytime it does a renovation that affects the usability of a station “regardless of cost,” the law also includes a caveat that it has to be “technically feasible.”

Maia Goodell, supervising attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, which represents clients in all four current lawsuits, said she believes the MTA hasn’t even bothered to see whether elevators are technically feasible in its station renovations.

The MTA won’t comment on any of these cases.

In state court, the MTA’s lawyers argued that they don’t have to install more elevators due to a legal technicality: because the MTA is a state agency, and it’s already following a 1995 state ruling to install 100 elevators, it is therefore exempted from following New York City’s human rights laws and the accessibility requirements.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the MTA’s transit committee signed off on $17.8 million more in spending for the Enhanced Station Initiative (ESI), a nearly $1 billion plan which has already run out of money. Not only was it scaled back from 32 to 19 stations, but none of the plans includes a new elevator.

The only board members at Monday’s meeting to vote against it were Mayor Bill de Blasio’s three appointees. When the recently appointed Transit and Bus committee chair Sarah Feinberg asked if “it makes sense to have a conversation about ESI,” Polly Trottenberg, who voted against it, said, “we’ve had years of it before your arrival.”

Stephen Nessen is the transportation reporter for WNYC. You can follow him on Twitter @s_nessen.

We the Commuters is a weekly newsletter about transportation from WNYC and Gothamist. Sign up below for essential commuting coverage delivered to your inbox every Thursday.

Source: http://gothamist.com/2019/05/23/subway_elevators_lawsuit.php?fbclid=IwAR00OECUR4HE3rP591woxLjIEEpcfs3Y89LY5dr0QwDnXDkxyKus6F2fU8M

http://gothamist.com/2019/05/23/subway_elevators_lawsuit.php?fbclid=IwAR00OECUR4HE3rP591woxLjIEEpcfs3Y89LY5dr0QwDnXDkxyKus6F2fU8M

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Some stations cannot be made accessible because of how they were built (because nobody thought of such things 100+ years ago). Should it really be necessary to tear down and rebuilt entire lines? 

 

Plus, how much service will have to be cut to pay for all of this?

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1 minute ago, Gotham Bus Co. said:

Some stations cannot be made accessible because of how they were built (because nobody thought of such things 100+ years ago). Should it really be necessary to tear down and rebuilt entire lines? 

 

Plus, how much service will have to be cut to pay for all of this?

Your comments are disgusting.  In the 21st century, people with disabilities continue to be shut out of the system, and I for one agree with the judge.  The (MTA) seems to have plenty of money for unnecessary mezzanines, but they refuse to find the money to make their stations accessible.  Disgusting!!

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35 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Your comments are disgusting.  In the 21st century, people with disabilities continue to be shut out of the system, and I for one agree with the judge.  The (MTA) seems to have plenty of money for unnecessary mezzanines, but they refuse to find the money to make their stations accessible.  Disgusting!!

You're advocating spending untold billions on construction, so you should be more than willing to specify exactly where that money should come from.

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1 minute ago, Gotham Bus Co. said:

You're advocating spending untold billions on construction, so you should be more than willing to specify exactly where that money should come from.

Why don't we start with your bus service... <_< Every little bit helps...

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3 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Your comments are disgusting.  In the 21st century, people with disabilities continue to be shut out of the system, and I for one agree with the judge.  The (MTA) seems to have plenty of money for unnecessary mezzanines, but they refuse to find the money to make their stations accessible.  Disgusting!!

I mean, the statement isn't entirely without merit. Just look at how Nevins Street was built.

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4 hours ago, Lex said:

I mean, the statement isn't entirely without merit. Just look at how Nevins Street was built.

If the subway station is actually incapable of hosting an elevator, then the least the MTA could do is produce a detailed EIS-type document stating what they analyzed and how they got to that conclusion, instead of poo-poohing the whole thing and saying "but muh grandfather clause!"

The MTA doesn't do this, because they don't actually give a shit.

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40 minutes ago, bobtehpanda said:

If the subway station is actually incapable of hosting an elevator, then the least the MTA could do is produce a detailed EIS-type document stating what they analyzed and how they got to that conclusion, instead of poo-poohing the whole thing and saying "but muh grandfather clause!"

The MTA doesn't do this, because they don't actually give a shit.

I can already tell you right now that it is. The platforms are directly under the street, the "mezzanines" are literally just pairs of stairs with fare control sitting between them (with said staircases taking up most of the platforms' width, not to mention that the "mezzanines" leave too little clearance to even go over the trains, hence the crossunder), and the only staircases between fare control and street level are pretty much hovering over the tracks. All of that is because the station's design was changed from the original plan (unremarkable local station on a three-track line, though that would've been better for accessibility). The only way to reasonably rectify this is to reconstruct the station and the surrounding infrastructure (basically, the entire station would need to be deeper), a costly endeavor that hardly qualifies as being worth the effort, which becomes an even harder sell due to nearby stations either being accessible at this point in time (DeKalb Avenue and Atlantic-Barclays) or being better candidates for accessibility (Hoyt Street, Borough Hall). In addition, buses already serve the area, and there are plenty.

Some of the other stations I'm concerned about have sharper curves, which only serve to make installation more difficult, as said curves would also need to be addressed.

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4 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

If the subway station is actually incapable of hosting an elevator, then the least the MTA could do is produce a detailed EIS-type document stating what they analyzed and how they got to that conclusion, instead of poo-poohing the whole thing and saying "but muh grandfather clause!"

The MTA doesn't do this, because they don't actually give a shit.

The STANTEC report would state this.

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14 hours ago, Gotham Bus Co. said:

You're advocating spending untold billions on construction, so you should be more than willing to specify exactly where that money should come from.

No one is saying it must all be done at once. The problem is that boatloads of money is being spent to renovate these stations and time and time again, the MTA has somehow gotten away with not installing elevators, even for stations that have essentially been rebuilt from the ground up, which should violate the ADA waiver the MTA received back in the '90s. The glacial pace of elevator installation has to come to an end because riders are tired of it. Not just disabled riders, but also the elderly and people who are able-bodied but need elevators for strollers, carriages, etc. Obviously, this will not be a cheap expense, perhaps the MTA and the city need to look at having more private developers install these elevators for incentives. Right now, three stations are receiving elevators to the platforms as part of nearby developments. This definitely needs to be looked into further, especially as areas along transit lines gentrify. We simply cannot throw up our hands and say that it's too expensive, therefore we can't do it. Also, and more germane to the opening post, adding elevators as part of the renovation costs will more than likely be less expensive than doing the station renovation and elevator installation separately.

12 hours ago, Lex said:

I mean, the statement isn't entirely without merit. Just look at how Nevins Street was built.

6 hours ago, Lex said:

I can already tell you right now that it is. The platforms are directly under the street, the "mezzanines" are literally just pairs of stairs with fare control sitting between them (with said staircases taking up most of the platforms' width, not to mention that the "mezzanines" leave too little clearance to even go over the trains, hence the crossunder), and the only staircases between fare control and street level are pretty much hovering over the tracks. All of that is because the station's design was changed from the original plan (unremarkable local station on a three-track line, though that would've been better for accessibility). The only way to reasonably rectify this is to reconstruct the station and the surrounding infrastructure (basically, the entire station would need to be deeper), a costly endeavor that hardly qualifies as being worth the effort, which becomes an even harder sell due to nearby stations either being accessible at this point in time (DeKalb Avenue and Atlantic-Barclays) or being better candidates for accessibility (Hoyt Street, Borough Hall). In addition, buses already serve the area, and there are plenty.

Some of the other stations I'm concerned about have sharper curves, which only serve to make installation more difficult, as said curves would also need to be addressed.

There are definitely going to be stations that are more difficult to provide full accessibility than others. Nevins St is an example of this, but that's not as big of an issue right now because DeKalb Av is literally right around the corner. The Lexington Ave platforms at Union Square will prove to be another challenge due to the gap fillers and the curved layout, but as long as other nearby stations can be made fully accessible first, it's not as big of a concern. The issue is that we cannot continue to use the age of the system as an excuse to not install elevators. There's absolutely no reason why most of Brooklyn and Queens are such accessibility deserts in 2019. The agency can tackle the harder stations at a later point, but it needs to seriously look into closing some of the accessibility gaps in the system. Even given the planned expansion of full accessibility in the next five years or so, most of South Brooklyn will remain inaccessible, as will most of the Jamaica line and every local stop along Queens Blvd.

For the record, I'm glad Byford is seriously taking this into account as part of his pitch for better transit, but my concern is that he doesn't make the final decisions here. I'm worried that, like with a lot of his ideas, he's going to get sidelined again.

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4 minutes ago, Lance said:

Obviously, this will not be a cheap expense, perhaps the MTA and the city need to look at having more private developers install these elevators for incentives. Right now, three stations are receiving elevators to the platforms as part of nearby developments. This definitely needs to be looked into further, especially as areas along transit lines gentrify.

No complaints about this approach.

 

6 minutes ago, Lance said:

Also, and more germane to the opening post, adding elevators as part of the renovation costs will more than likely be less expensive than doing the station renovation and elevator installation separately.

That pretty much goes without saying. My one concern with this is the possibility of a station's reopening being delayed due to some delay in accessibility, which would eat up the savings so long as the station remains closed (which will also put the system at risk of losing riders). I hope that's just an unfounded concern...

12 minutes ago, Lance said:

The issue is that we cannot continue to use the age of the system as an excuse to not install elevators. There's absolutely no reason why most of Brooklyn and Queens are such accessibility deserts in 2019. The agency can tackle the harder stations at a later point, but it needs to seriously look into closing some of the accessibility gaps in the system.

No arguments here.

 

16 minutes ago, Lance said:

For the record, I'm glad Byford is seriously taking this into account as part of his pitch for better transit, but my concern is that he doesn't make the final decisions here. I'm worried that, like with a lot of his ideas, he's going to get sidelined again.

That's not surprising.

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16 hours ago, Gotham Bus Co. said:

You're advocating spending untold billions on construction, so you should be more than willing to specify exactly where that money should come from.

Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway. duck.gif

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10 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

The STANTEC report would state this.

Stantec seems like a consulting company that only did two stations: https://www.stantec.com/en/projects/united-states-projects/a/ada-feasibility-study and I have no idea where that study is.

In any case, such reports should be accessible with a google search and two clicks, the same way detailed reports can easily be found for, say, the Second Avenue Subway.

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Posted (edited)

Incorrect. They are evaluating all stations.

On February 6th, we invited members of the community here to 2 Broadway for an open discussion about the next stations to be made accessible under Fast Forward and the next capital plan. We had nearly 100 in-person attendees and more than 800 viewers watching on YouTube. We spent three hours in a frank and productive conversation, working through the options and challenges of each group of stations under consideration to meet our Fast Forward coverage goal, borough by borough. Input from this event, and follow-up discussions with advocates and community members, will be one of the factors that helps us prioritize stations for accessibility, along with the Stantec feasibility study and a host of other data points we have collected on each station. The Stantec study continues apace, with more than 160 stations studied to date.

http://web.mta.info/mta/news/books/pdf/190225_1030_transit-bus.pdf

https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-metro-subway-elevator-accecssibility-20190131-story.html

Edited by Union Tpke
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On 5/23/2019 at 7:27 PM, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

The (MTA) seems to have plenty of money for unnecessary mezzanines

Amen to that.

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I have to give it to the disability advocacy groups. They have been relentless about going down to 2 Broadway every month and fighting to get access to the subway and I don't blame them.  It has been shown that people that are disabled here in NYC tend to be shut out of all sorts of job opportunities simply because they lack reliable transportation, which leaves them ultimately to be poor by no choice of their own.  No one wants to hire someone who can't show to work on-time.

I was at the last board meeting speaking and they basically filled the room and one guy was livid asking the (MTA) why they get rid of e-hail, a program that has been proven to work and is CHEAPER than what is currently place.  I mean really you do have to wonder about this agency.  I was also shocked to know that none of the stations that are currently being rehabbed have plans for elevators.  That is crazy....

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14 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I have to give it to the disability advocacy groups. They have been relentless about going down to 2 Broadway every month and fighting to get access to the subway and I don't blame them.  It has been shown that people that are disabled here in NYC tend to be shut out of all sorts of job opportunities simply because they lack reliable transportation, which leaves them ultimately to be poor by no choice of their own.  No one wants to hire someone who can't show to work on-time.

I was at the last board meeting speaking and they basically filled the room and one guy was livid asking the (MTA) why they get rid of e-hail, a program that has been proven to work and is CHEAPER than what is currently place.  I mean really you do have to wonder about this agency.  I was also shocked to know that none of the stations that are currently being rehabbed have plans for elevators.  That is crazy....

The long term plan for AAR is quite ass backwards: Get rid of e-hail, expand the broker cars, and getting rid of the in-house sedans (AAR proper would only have the vans). Technically this does save more money, but service quality is gonna tank big time. Broker cars suck (the drivers aren’t vetted well, and they don’t do tolls so that means delays going between boroughs. Truly bottom of the barrel service.)

I’d love to know what they smoke in 2 Broadway, that’s for sure. We’re not even a quarter of the way of having the entire subway system accessible and they still wanna cut corners with AAR.

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1 minute ago, paulrivera said:

The long term plan for AAR is quite ass backwards: Get rid of e-hail, expand the broker cars, and getting rid of the in-house sedans (AAR proper would only have the vans). Technically this does save more money, but service quality is gonna tank big time. Broker cars suck (the drivers aren’t vetted well, and they don’t do tolls so that means delays going between boroughs. Truly bottom of the barrel service.)

I’d love to know what they smoke in 2 Broadway, that’s for sure. We’re not even a quarter of the way of having the entire subway system accessible and they still wanna cut corners with AAR.

I'm going to continue to slam them about how they piss away money.  Now late last year, all we heard was that they were losing money, and six months into the fiscal year, they don't have any place in place to address this problem. They stated that basically in the Finance Committee Meeting last month.

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11 hours ago, paulrivera said:

The long term plan for AAR is quite ass backwards: Get rid of e-hail, expand the broker cars, and getting rid of the in-house sedans (AAR proper would only have the vans). Technically this does save more money, but service quality is gonna tank big time. Broker cars suck (the drivers aren’t vetted well, and they don’t do tolls so that means delays going between boroughs. Truly bottom of the barrel service.)

I’d love to know what they smoke in 2 Broadway, that’s for sure. We’re not even a quarter of the way of having the entire subway system accessible and they still wanna cut corners with AAR.

IMO one big thing is that we have a 100% accessible, relatively frequent bus network that is not subway-level great, but still miles ahead of AAR. The big problem is that the buses are not fast and connections are poor, especially between boroughs.

Here in Seattle, they operate point-to-point express services between major areas, and it's not just downtown-centric. The MTA would do much better for customers if it could create cross-borough express buses, and relax the fare-transfer policy to make three-transfer trips one fare. And to that end we need bus lanes on all the major bridges used by buses.

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11 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

I'm going to continue to slam them about how they piss away money.  Now late last year, all we heard was that they were losing money, and six months into the fiscal year, they don't have any place in place to address this problem. They stated that basically in the Finance Committee Meeting last month.

That’s the MTA’s problem. Not only do they piss away money on vanity projects and subsidizing Upstate ski resorts, it seems like they don’t realize that public transit isn’t meant to be an independent for-profit venture, especially a government operated system. Once everybody from Albany down to the counties on the MTA board city and the MTA itself realizes all this, then and only then can there be any progress to address all of the MTA’s problems.

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The problem is multi lateral. 

 

You have a governor and a mayor who are each expecting the other to fix the problems. It's like they're on a sinking ship, and it takes two people to lower the lifeboat. They each expect the other to do the lowering and we're all going to drown because of it...

You have downstate politicians who only want to be able to claim successes and cut ribbons. I remember on city council member complaining about the not ADA accesible raised rear section of the Nova artics on the M15SBS when it launched (ignoring the fact the engine and fuel take and drive train need to go SOMEWHERE)

You have union leadership who wants every penny from the MTA's coffers and will not take accountability for it's members actions. (If I have to listen to Samuelson play the victim card again with this whole time keeping issue, I'm going to hurl. We all know there are people out there who are taking advantage of the system. It has to be enough of a problem if the feds have stepped in...)

You have upstate politicians who see the MTA as a piggy bank. IE, those snow makers.

and you have disability advocates who are not architects and engineers, not realizing just what goes into building an elevator. take a look at the process to make Copley station in Boston accessible. They ran head long into the preservationist movement who sought to protect the Old South Church and the main Boston Library building.

 

Forest Avenue on the M, the nearest stop to my house, would require a complete redesign of the mezzanine to allow for an elevator, or a reopening of the demolished south Mezzanine.   

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Posted (edited)

So much blame to go around. None of these pols, union leaders, advocates, etc., want to see the big picture. It’s all about their best interests...and only their best interests. Meanwhile, those of us who need the subway to get around - all of us, including folks who can’t use the stairs - continue to suffer. 

But Judge Hagler (who works where I do) is right. MTA does need to find money to include elevators and/or ramps in all station renovations going forward, especially in Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. The station renovations on the (2)(5) and (4) lines in The Bronx, in particular, stick out in my mind as blown opportunities to bring ADA-compliance to a significant part of the system outside Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

Edited by T to Dyre Avenue

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The MTA simply doesn’t care about having accessible stations. Too much politics are involved and not enough doing what needs to get done. Our governor and our mayor wants to always look good and they want a pat on the back for spearheading these “improvement projects”, but everything is just so sloppy and money is not put in the right places. Honestly I was quite disappointed with the ESI station list. See if I were in charge for example I would have been like, let’s pin point some stops that are in heavy commercial shopping areas or by a school. Some potential stops I would have targeted would have been, Woodhaven & Rego Park 63rd Street on the (M) & (R) lines, & Hoyt Schermerhorn, 68th street- Hunter College, 137th City College and others that I haven’t mentioned that fit within those categories. Those mentioned stations would have gotten the whole ESI treatment with elevators. Then there are definitely plenty of other stations that I would have chosen to simply rehab like Bowery Street, 21st on the (G) line and others that have escaped my mind at the moment. Don’t get me wrong the 4th Ave stations and the Astoria stations look good and I’m happy they were chosen but the other stations like 57th street, 23rd street, 28th Street, 72nd & 86th Streets could have waited, because honestly they didn’t get elevators either and there were plenty of other stations that needed more attention.

I also dislike how half-assed the MTA is when it comes to stuff like car maintenance and improvements. At this point all or at least most of the NTT’s should of had their light casings cleaned and lights changed, they should have those floor mats and the yellow poles. None of Jamaica’s R160’s besides the 100 “showcase” cars received any of those features. It’s crazy how a handful of R46’s that are probably retiring in like 5-7 years got some upgrades but not the much newer R160s. With this deep cleaning program that is going on, I hope they manage to get though at least all the NTT’s but knowing the MTA they will probably stop half way like they do with pretty much everything. 

And honestly with the way things are ran in the MTA currently, we should expect nothing more than half-assed projects.

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The main feeling I get from ESI is that it is an improvement stemming from attempt at modernization, which is good. However, imo maintenance should be considered more than full station rehabs. Look at Archer Av, 2 Av... and I recall seeing water leaks also from either Bay Ridge Av or 53 St. Infrastructure deteriorates quickly--stations, cars, you name it.

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