2017-11-08 / Features

Accessibility Upgrade Exclusion Protested


Hearts Across Queens, MOMally and UPSTAND organized a demonstration at the Astoria Boulevard Station’s Columbus Triangle to draw attention to the lack of accessibility upgrades (elevators) during station renovations on the N/W line. They were joined by NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, NYS Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, and NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides. Hearts Across Queens, MOMally and UPSTAND organized a demonstration at the Astoria Boulevard Station’s Columbus Triangle to draw attention to the lack of accessibility upgrades (elevators) during station renovations on the N/W line. They were joined by NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, NYS Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, and NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides. Hearts Across Queens, MOMally and UP-STAND organized a demonstration for Astoria families and their allies on Saturday, November 4 at the Astoria Boulevard Station’s Columbus Triangle. Protestors gathered to draw attention to the exclusion of accessibility upgrades during station renovations on the N/W line, and severely delayed elevator installation at the Astoria Boulevard station.

Despite closures planned for eight months per station at four separate N/W stations, the current upgrades will not include a single elevator. The MTA has also been promising an elevator at the Astoria Boulevard Station since 2012, with original plans for completion by 2016. 2017 is almost over.


Senator Gianaris addresses the issues at the protest. Council Member Constantinides is at Gianaris’ left. Senator Gianaris addresses the issues at the protest. Council Member Constantinides is at Gianaris’ left. UP-STAND, an organization with the mission to improve accessibility for pregnant women and families, worked with Astoria Council Member Costa Constantinides to introduce Resolution 1514 earlier this year, with the intent to secure a Pregnancy and Family Representative at the MTA.

Organizers said, “Caregivers with young children are not a constituency that the MTA considers when it comes to accessibility, despite being a large customer base. It’s a hard group to mobilize, as caretakers deal with unpredictable schedules and competing priorities,” but the groups made the MTA aware of their needs on Saturday.

“If we do not afford everyone the same opportunity to use our public transportation, the concept of public, mass transit is little more than an idealized fantasy,” said Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D, WF-Manhattan). “I am proud to join UP-STAND and other advocates in demanding that all subway stations be made accessible to all people of all abilities. In addition, it’s crucial that we pass my legislation, bill A.586, to require the MTA to post signage over mass transit seats reserving seats for the elderly, pregnant and disabled. If we want to keep every single New Yorker moving, we must ensure that all transportation is accessible.”

“This is exactly why we need someone at the MTA representing us. Accessibility upgrades need to be included in renovation plans across New York City. The time is now, when the MTA is planning closures and investing the money, to prioritize accessibility for pregnant riders, families with young children, and our allies,” said Christine Serdjenian Yearwood, UP-STAND founder and one of Saturday’s event organizers. “Buses are not a feasible alternative to the subway system for our constituency, both in their design and closed-stroller policy. This work can’t wait.”

“Only 23 percent of all subway stations across New York City are ADA-accessible. This means that for the thousands of New Yorkers who need stair-free access, less than a quarter of all subway stations are available for them to use,” said Jaqi Cohen, Campaign Coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign. “New Yorkers deserve a transit system that is not only affordable and reliable, but one that is accessible, and it can’t consider itself a modern city if it continuously bars access to its transit system, one of the largest in the world, to riders who cannot take the stairs.

“These stations will be shut down for over eight months as part of the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative, yet neither of them is being made accessible during this time. This means that people with disabilities, older New Yorkers, parents with strollers, travelers with luggage, and anyone else who needs stair-free access to the subway will continue to be shut out of the system,” said Mel Plaut, Transit Center Program Analyst. “This is a big missed opportunity for Governor Cuomo and the MTA, and highlights the agency’s neglect of accessibility across the subway system. Governor Cuomo and Chairman Lhota need to make accessibility a priority when ‘enhancing’ subway stations, and take advantage of station closures to bring stair-free access to all New Yorkers.”

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