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Ready to ride: MTA, advocates celebrate newest elevator in Midtown

The MTA gathered to celebrate the newest wheelchair accessible station on June 1.
Photo by Dean Moses

For years, disability advocates have been calling for easier subway access for wheelchair-bound New Yorkers and parents with strollers — and the MTA officially took another step Tuesday toward fulfilling that goal at every station in New York.

Authority officials joined members of the disabled community at the corner of 55th Street and 7th Avenue on June 1 to mark the installation of a new elevator leading to the 57th Street station on the N/Q/R/W lines — making it the 137th stop in the system to have elevator access.

“This is a project that finished early because when COVID happened we started to take advantage of the opportunity to do more work, to do it more quickly and this is one of the results,” said Janno Lieber, President of MTA Construction & Development. “Now more than ever, as we reopen, we need a transit system that is truly accessible to all New Yorkers. It will speed up our recovery and it is justice delayed.”

Lieber was joined in the shadow of the new elevator by a large crowd who helped make it possible, not just in terms of the physical construction but also through staunch advocacy. Quemuel Arroyo, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer and Victor Calise, MTA Board Member and Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities have been calling for easier accesses to public transportation for some time now.

As wheelchair users themselves, they know the struggle to find accommodations that meet their needs.

“For far too long, wheelchair users like myself, riders with vision or hearing disabilities, seniors who have difficulty with stairs, parents with children in strollers, and so many others have struggled to get around the system. That is changing now,” Arroyo said.

Quemuel Arroyo, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer and Victor Calise, MTA Board Member and Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities prepare to ride the elevator at the 57th Street train station. Photo by Dean Moses

After the official celebration Calise and Arroyo became the first users to ride the elevators after its official christening. The pair demonstrated the ease at which they can now access the turnstiles and the platforms.

“I have to say just getting out and seeing a nice accessible station is overwhelming, we need to continue to be able to do this,” Calise said.

Quemuel Arroyo, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer rode the newly minted elevator. Photo by Dean Moses

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