As of Thursday, January 26th, the MTA revealed significant accessibility improvements to Penn Station, the city’s fifth busiest subway station. The improvements include a new street entrance at 7 Av and 33 St., modernizations to existing elevators, and the replacement/repair of platform stairs.
Accessibility improvements have been a long-running effort of the MTA, with 16 subway stations upgraded in accordance to ADA standards since 2020. Beyond Penn Station’s most recent revamp, another recent accessibility improvement project from the MTA can be observed at Queensboro Plaza station.
“Accessibility is such an integral part of mass transit, and these improvements will increase reliability for thousands of riders,” said NYC Transit President Richard Davey. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to inclusive public transit and expanding accessibility throughout the region.”
The new elevators in Penn Station now have a two-way communication system, enhancing contact between riders and rescuers, including those with hearing/speech impairments, in the case of an emergency. “Riders with disabilities, caregivers with strollers, visitors with luggage, and many others rely on elevators, and need an accessible option at all times, especially at our busiest stations. This work reinforces our commitment to achieving a fully accessible system,” said MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo.
Penn Station’s recent improvements were not only completed in time but under budget, reports the recent press release. Through the improvements, the MTA expects to promote a more “seamless travel experience” and enhanced elevator service and reliability.
According to an MTA study on subway ridership, Penn Station sees more than 9,000,000 commuters in a year. Accessibility is crucial to assist the high volume of riders coming in and out of the station each day.
Beyond the elevators, the new entrance is marked by a massive glass mosaic from Diana Al-Hadid. The piece is actually inspired by an old photograph that once hung over the original entrance of Penn Station. “The artwork connects the past and present of this important station and offers a space for today’s riders and those of an earlier era to briefly meet in passing.”
Furthermore, work on station circulation, lighting and wayfinding has been done to benefit passengers.
Each improvement to the station is just part of the MTA’s 2020-2024 Capital Plan that outlines a $5.2 billion budget for accessibility upgrades.
To learn more about the MTA’s accessibility efforts, head to their website here.