NYC MTA ADA updates

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neroden

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Since I follow the case of the most scofflaw transit system in the nation...


I should check to see whether my girlfriend is included in the class. Yep. They estimate there are >535,000 plaintiffs in the class *in New York City*, but the class includes anyone with mobility impairments who would have tried to use the NYC Subway, regardless of where they live. So the number is actually much, much higher.

I recently realized that the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, which required buildings built or renovated with federal funding (including subway stations) to be built wheelchair-accessible, was passed the same year as the MTA was formed. They've literally been breaking the law since they were formed! Hopefully they will finally get put under enough court supervision to make them obey the law. It's still mind-boggling to me how lawless the MTA has been, given that Boston's older and harder-to-retrofit system has been fixing its accessibility issues.
 
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MARC Rider

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Since I follow the case of the most scofflaw transit system in the nation...

It's still mind-boggling to me how lawless the MTA has been, given that Boston's older and harder-to-retrofit system has been fixing its accessibility issues.
While I don't have any mobility issues (yet), I appreciate accessible stations when traveling with luggage. Hauling a heavy roller bag up and down stairs is getting to be a real pain in the neck. I agree with you on the comparison between New York and Boston, having made some recent (pre-covid) trips to both. I had one problem transferring lines at Downtown Crossing in Boston, many more in New York, and even when elevators were present, a lot of them weren't in working condition.

By the way, I appreciate that in Chicago, they finally installed elevators for the Quincy station, the closest Loop station to Amtrak. Now if they could only retrofit the Clinton Station for the Blue Line, then the interchange between Amtrak and the L system will finally be accessible.
 

neroden

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While I don't have any mobility issues (yet), I appreciate accessible stations when traveling with luggage. Hauling a heavy roller bag up and down stairs is getting to be a real pain in the neck. I agree with you on the comparison between New York and Boston, having made some recent (pre-covid) trips to both. I had one problem transferring lines at Downtown Crossing in Boston, many more in New York, and even when elevators were present, a lot of them weren't in working condition.

By the way, I appreciate that in Chicago, they finally installed elevators for the Quincy station, the closest Loop station to Amtrak. Now if they could only retrofit the Clinton Station for the Blue Line, then the interchange between Amtrak and the L system will finally be accessible.
Chicago does have a long-term plan to make *every* station wheelchair-accessible. All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) - CTA

They have 42 stations to go. Clinton St. Blue Line is by most accounts the hardest, and they're still puzzling over the best way to do it; nearly every other station is actually at a fairly advanced stage of design with conceptual layouts for exact elevator locations, while Clinton St. is still mostly handwaving.
 

Deni

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Since I follow the case of the most scofflaw transit system in the nation...


I should check to see whether my girlfriend is included in the class. Yep. They estimate there are >535,000 plaintiffs in the class *in New York City*, but the class includes anyone with mobility impairments who would have tried to use the NYC Subway, regardless of where they live. So the number is actually much, much higher.

I recently realized that the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, which required buildings built or renovated with federal funding (including subway stations) to be built wheelchair-accessible, was passed the same year as the MTA was formed. They've literally been breaking the law since they were formed! Hopefully they will finally get put under enough court supervision to make them obey the law. It's still mind-boggling to me how lawless the MTA has been, given that Boston's older and harder-to-retrofit system has been fixing its accessibility issues.
I don't see how you can claim they've been breaking the law since day one. Any station built AFTER the Architectural Barriers Act is subject to it, not stations built prior. Sure, the MTA could be doing a LOT more retrofitting to put in elevators (and the Feds should be helping a lot more as well) but as far as I know they have not built a new station since 1968 without an elevator.

Comparing to Boston or any other city is not real fair. Nobody has the sheer number of underground stations that NYC does. Most of Boston is above ground and the Green Line runs so much at grade that required very little to make accessible.
 

neroden

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As used in this chapter, the term “building” means any building or facility (other than (A) a privately owned residential structure not leased by the Government for subsidized housing programs and (B) any building or facility on a military installation designed and constructed primarily for use by able bodied military personnel) the intended use for which either will require that such building or facility be accessible to the public, or may result in the employment or residence therein of physically handicapped persons, which building or facility is—
(1)
to be constructed or altered by or on behalf of the United States;

(2)
to be leased in whole or in part by the United States after August 12, 1968;

(3)
to be financed in whole or in part by a grant or a loan made by the United States after August 12, 1968, if such building or facility is subject to standards for design, construction, or alteration issued under authority of the law authorizing such grant or loan; or

(4)
to be constructed under authority of the National Capital Transportation Act of 1960, the National Capital Transportation Act of 1965, or title III of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact.

---------
The "financed" clause (3) is the relevant one, and the word "alteration" is the important one. The MTA has altered stations after 1968, and has consistently pretended that they don't need to make alterations accessible.

It is indeed possible that the MTA did not receive any federal financing for station renovations for many years after 1968, or that they got waivers (unlike later laws, the ABA allows for waivers); I have not fully looked into the history of MTA station renovations. Certainly they did very little renovation from 1968 through 1985.

Checking Wikipedia, I find that the the MTA did build three inaccessible transfers in 1978, however...

The Rehabilitation Act -- for which final regulations were promulgated in 1978, making it clearer that NYC's 1978 inaccessible transfer construction would be illegal in future; the NYS Public Buildings Law; the NYC Human Rights Law; and the ADA applied stronger rules (eliminating waivers) but they all amount to variations on the same thing: you must provide wheelchair access during alterations. The major lawsuits against the MTA for breaking the law started in 1979.

The MTA did not start to actually follow the law on station alterations until 2011, and then only when they lost federal lawsuits; they continued to break the law on alterations right up to 2017.

So, I'll be generous and say the MTA has been breaking the accessibility laws since 1978. 39 straight years of scofflaw behavior, 1978 to 2017.
 

neroden

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Making the Green Line accessible has actually been the hardest project for Boston; the surface stations frequently require permissions from the City to rearrange the *roads*, which has been difficult to get, and the subway stations are in extremely sensitive and cramped locations.

Making City Hall station in Philadelphia accessible has been an extraordinarily expensive and difficult project, as they have to underpin the heaviest masonry building in the world, carry elevators in piece by piece and assemble them underground, drill shafts for them from underground origin points wihtout upsetting City Hall itself, *and Philadelphia is working on it*.

Indeed, NYC is the city with the easiest renovation problem of any of the old subway systems in the US. Boston's are older, in more cramped circumstances, and some are *historic landmarks* (they're still puzzling over what to do about Bowdoin), but they even managed to do Government Center. Philadelphia's are mostly similar to NYC, but City Hall is worse than anything in NYC. Cleveland and Pittsburgh can genuinely and honestly claim to have no money whatsoever (unlike NYC, whose pleas of poverty are ridiculous), but have been doing their best anyway.

London, UK has *far* more difficult problems making accessibility alterations than NYC (platforms on curved slopes, underneath historic buildings!) and has done far better than NYC.

The big difference is that NYC *hasn't been trying*. Byford attempted to correct this when he got to NYC (he came from London and so correctly considered the MTA's excuses to be bogus).
 
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