Federal Judge Rules Subway Stations Must Get Elevators During Renovations

Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that the MTA must install elevators where there aren’t any during certain renovations.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that Wednesday, March 6, that the MTA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it did not install elevators during the renovation of the Middletown Road station in the Bronx. In 2016, the Disability Rights Advocates sued the MTA for not adding wheelchair accessibility to their renovation plans of the subway, which was already costing $27 million for an overall upgrade to rehabilitate the dilapidating station.

Currently, less than 25% of all subway stations are wheelchair accessible. In a report written by SecretNYC in 2017, there were only 117 stations with wheelchair accessibility, out of 472! And that number hasn’t seemed to changed. According to the Federal Transit Administration, NYC’s subway system has the lowest rate of wheelchair accessibility of any major transport system nationwide.

In a press statement made after the ruling, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said, “The MTA is now on notice that whenever it renovates a subway station throughout its system so as to affect the station’s usability, the MTA is obligated to install an elevator, regardless of the cost, unless it is technically infeasible.”

According to court papers, the MTA had not installed an elevator due to the station’s already high cost for renovations; but under the new ruling, wheelchair accessibility must be included in the plans regardless of cost. That said, the MTA has already been working on creating better accessibility at stations across the five boroughs as part of their Fast Forward plan.

featured image source: photo modified: flickr / Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York / CC by 2.0

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