Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer released a report on subway station accessibility from Harlem to Houston last month showing that the MTA has a long way to go in accommodating disabled and senior riders. Brewer’s surveyors found that:
- 54% of elevators require better cleaning to reduce litter and eliminate/reduce odors (most often from urine or vomit).
- 37% of stations need improved signage, either in-station or within the elevators themselves.
- 81% of elevators lack alternate travel information should that elevator be out of service.
- 16.7% of stations were missing properly-maintained stair “nosings”—the bright paint that delineates the top and bottom of staircases—for the blind and vision-impaired.
While the MTA’s Fast Forward program is a fine first step, Brewer’s calling on the authority to set a detailed timeline for reaching 100% accessibility, enter into a legally binding agreement on accessibility issues, and revamp elevator maintenance practices.
After the survey, Brewer formed a new Accessibility Task Force in her office to address barriers to access in transit and urban design. If you’re in a wheelchair, or use a cane or walker, or even just have a temporary injury, it can truly be a challenge to get from point A to point B. See a full list of task force members here.
Members of the task force include stakeholders and advocates who will develop a complete to-do list and shine a light on what needs to be done to make Manhattan better on accessibility issues. Watch Susan Scheer, a task force member, speaking at my State of the Borough here.