By Emily Drooby
Subway accessibility problems often prevents Brooklyn family, the Hallocks, from traveling far.
Sarah Hallock, explained, “Other moms are saying, ‘Oh, I want to go to the park that’s a little farther away and I’m thinking, I can’t do anything except what’s right outside my door.”
Sarah and her husband Sasha have one son who uses a stroller and another who can’t walk on his own. They say, at too many stations there’s no safe way to access the platform, so they do without it.
Sasha Hallock said, “We’ve learned to navigate the city without public transportation, and we don’t rely on public transportation as a family, we just can’t do it.”
Subway accessibility problems, a reality for many. A 2018 report from the city comptroller’s office shows that only 24 percent of the 472 subway stations citywide are accessible by an elevator.
Now a new federal court ruling is giving some, like Valerie Joseph, who works at Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, hope.
Valerie Joseph, access-a-ride advocate, explained, “It’s going to be a big win for us, and that means they listened to us.”
The court’s decision came after a Bronx subway station was renovated, including updates to the stairs, but still didn’t have an elevator, a violation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Valerie Joseph, said, “It’s unfair, because as I always say, we are people.”
Now the MTA is now on notice, anytime a subway station is renovated, an elevator must be installed, no matter the cost, unless it’s technically impossible.
Joseph Rappaport, the executive director at the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, calling this an important case. He explained, “What this case does is makes it clear to the MTA…if you’re going to replace stairwells if you’re going to put in new stairways, you’ve gotta make sure that the station is made more accessible as well.”
The center is in court against the MTA, suing in two cases about elevators.
We reached out to the MTA for reaction to the ruling, they told us quote, “The MTA is steadfastly committed to improving access throughout the subway, with a hard and fast goal of making 50 additional stations accessible over five years. We’re not wavering from that commitment.”
Adding that they take their accessibility responsibilities very seriously.
There are alternatives to the subway for people with disabilities like, access-a-ride, a service for those who can’t use the subway or ride a bus, but not all advocates are fans, some calling it difficult to use and unreliable.