Today, just a fraction of New York City’s subways are accessible.
As of May 2022, out of 472 total stations in the New York City subway system, 135 (or 29%) are accessible to some extent – some stations with elevators or escalators installed are under long-term outage. Only one in four has an elevator, for example, and often, they don’t work.
Commuting home has become an everyday struggle for disabled New Yorkers, like Michael Ring, who was paralyzed by Guillain Barre Syndrome, an immune system disease that makes walking arduous, nine years ago. He remains an active member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Transit Accessibility Committee, which represents more than one million New Yorkers with physical disabilities. Ring sued the MTA twice with the advocacy group Disabled in Action. As part of the settlement, the MTA promised that by 2055, 95% of inaccessible stations will have functioning elevators. Ring will be 90 by then.
Every cloud has a silver lining. The first R211 train rolled into service on the A Line on March 10. With wider doors, security cameras throughout the new subway cars, digital screens in every car, and additional accessibility features, the MTA is taking steps to become more user friendly and accessible.
About the author(s)
Hypatia Wu is a multimedia journalist covering transportation and general international news with special focus on China, Qatar, and the US.