Riders and elected officials on Tuesday fumed over faulty elevators that serve as the only access to the 1 train platform at the 168th Street station.
Trains running on the 1 line had to bypass the Washington Heights station on two occasions in the last seven days after all four elevators to the platform lost power, stranding riders underground, according to elected officials.
“This is a serious, serious safety concern,” Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said at a news conference outside the station on Tuesday morning. “As this station serves important health-care facilities…the concerns are even greater. We know this wouldn’t happen if this was 42nd Street.”
Rodriguez joined other local elected officials, including Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Assemb. Marisol Alcantara, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Letitia James in penning a letter to the MTA requesting a “complete renovation” for the elevators at 168th Street and the 181st Street stations.
“It’s completely inexcusable,” said Public Advocate Letitia James at the news conference. “Not only does it present a huge inconvenience for Washington Heights but it leaves them stranded without other convenient public transit options.”
The MTA has already planned on spending $44 million to replace all of the elevators at the 168th Street, 181st Street, and 191st Street stations. The funding has been allocated in the state-run agency’s capital plan.
Elevators serving as the sole connection to the 1 train platform at 168th Street are older than average and break down more frequently, according to the MTA’s most recent Elevator and Escalator Quarterly report, published this past November. The four elevators are either 18 or 19 years old, while the average age system-wide is 10.2 years.
The 222 elevators across the city experienced an average of 9.6 non-scheduled outages during the third quarter of 2016. At 168th Street, the 1 train’s elevators averaged about 33.3 non-scheduled outages in that same time period.
Still, all elevators throughout the subway system were accessible 95.9% of the time. At 168th Street’s 1 train platform, the four elevators were accessible between 86.1% and 95.6%.
“These elevators should be working at all times,” said Lee Roger, 35, of Crown Heights, who was waiting for a downtown 1 train at the station Tuesday evening. “We have to pay an extreme amount to ride the subway…and we don’t get what we pay back.”