More elevators and ramps are being built in the subway system, but the MTA needs more money to make the system even more accessible, says a report issued Tuesday.
“Sustaining this momentum is imperative — and the pace of progress directly influences the lives of millions of New Yorkers,” said researchers at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.
The MTA has committed to making 95% of the city’s 472 subway stations accessible to riders in wheelchairs and other mobility devices after settling a pair of lawsuits in 2022. Currently only 30% of stations are accessible to those passengers.
The MTA has installed elevators and other improvements at an average 6 1/2 stations per year since 2020, the NYU researchers wrote — up from fewer than three stations a year in the five prior years.
In 2023, MTA officials oversaw the installation of elevators in eight subway stations.
“The MTA is making progress, but what they do need is funding,” said Sarah Kaufman, director of the Rudin Center and a co-author of the study.
A key source for that funding is congestion pricing, Kaufman said.
Accessibility improvements are among the many capital projects slated to be funded in part by congestion pricing, which the MTA hopes will raise $1 billion per year towards its capital budget.
MTA chief accessibility officer Quemuel Arroyo told the Daily News 41 projects are underway to improve access to subway stations. Of those, 13 are expected to be completed this year.
That’s not counting an elevator at the Beach 67th St. station on the A-train in the Rockaways section of Queens, which opened to the public late last week.
During that ribbon cutting on Friday, MTA chair Janno Lieber echoed the NYU researchers’ concerns about long-term funding — which he said is at risk “because of the congestion pricing drama that has unfolded, mostly with New Jersey.”
New Jersey elected officials have filed two federal lawsuits challenging the plan to toll motorists at 60th St. and points south in Manhattan.
Long-term, Arroyo said his aim is for no MTA user to be more than two stops away from an elevator-equipped station.
The NYU researchers said the bulk of elevator-equipped stations are still in Manhattan, where 40% of stations can be fully or partially accessed without the use of stairs.
In Queens, only 29% of subway stations have elevators, escalators or ramps. Brooklyn and the Bronx both come in last, with 24% of stations in each borough accessible to people who can’t use stairs.
On Staten Island, 28% of the Staten Island Railway’s stations are accessible.