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Disabled subway riders have waited far too long for working elevators at two Manhattan subway stations, Sen. Chuck Schumer said Saturday as he urged federal officials to green-light the stalled project.
The Senate majority leader said wheelchair-bound New Yorkers and others with mobility issues desperately need a lift at two busy 14th St. subway stops in the West Village.
“Stop the stalling, release the money,” the New York Democrat said. “Let’s get these elevators built, and that will make New York a better place, as was said, for everybody.”
Money has already been earmarked for four elevators at the W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. station, and two more at W. 14th St. and Seventh Ave. The project also includes making the pedestrian tunnel linking the two stations accessible to the handicapped.
But the project needs to get a thumbs-up from the Federal Transit Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation that funnels money to local transit systems like the MTA.
“When you make accommodations for people with disabilities you are aiding the public,” said Michael Schweinsburg of the 504 Democratic Club, which advocates for disabled rights. “So many more disabled riders, so many more mothers with baby strollers, so many people with shopping carts, so many people with deliveries.”
A coalition of neighborhood groups and advocates sued the MTA in 2018 over the lack of accessible subway stations. The transit agency caved and agreed to make the changes, but the improvements still haven’t been implemented.
Milagros Franco, 44, who uses a wheelchair on her daily subway commute, calls it a “Russian roulette” to find a way to get down to the train platform.
“You have to know which stop is accessible, which stop an elevator is working,” she said.
Carr Massi, who is 90 years old and uses a wheelchair, said there’s no way to put a price tag on the ability to get around without assistance.
“It gives you a sense of freedom,” she said.