Riders group wants MTA to mind the gap
"Accessible" subway stations are not always accessible for riders in wheelchairs, according to a report Thursday from the New York City Transit Riders Council.
Of the 91 accessible stations surveyed, 20 platforms along 13 subway lines have gaps between the platform and the train door greater than three inches, meaning riders who use wheelchairs can get stuck or are unable to board. And while raised platforms erase the gap, they won't be effective if the train doors fail to align.
"One of the problems is very simple: The train doesn't stop at the right place," said Edith Prentiss, a member of the MTA rider's council who uses a wheelchair.
The group wants stopping markers and more raised platforms in areas with excessive gaps. The MTA said agency designers are working on options to mark disabled boarding areas and that it has put funding in place to fill the gaps with higher platforms. The platforms have been tested in two stations so far.
"We are in the process of finalizing designs that will allow us to make many of the improvements the PCAC is calling for," said MTA spokeswoman Deirdre Parker.
Making subways easier for the disabled could be a money saver for the MTA, which said its Access-A-Ride program is the fastest growing cost at 9.3% a year. Access-a-Ride is not just expensive -- a trip costs the MTA roughly $53 a ride -- but the service is widely derided.
"Every time you get someone to say, 'I'll take the Lexington [Avenue trains] instead of Access-A-Ride,' they save," said Bill Henderson, director of the MTA riders council.
Thomas Charles, vice president of paratransit, said the MTA is rolling out a program to give special MetroCards with photo identification of paratransit riders to 170,000 people who registered in 18 months. So far, 11,000 have been handed out.
"They can make their trip on an accessible bus or subway and it avoids the more costly use of door-to-door service," Charles said.