The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been hit with two accessibility-related class action lawsuits this year alone and it would be tough to say they are unwarranted. One suit alleges that New Yorkers with mobility impairments are “blatantly denied” access to many of the subway system’s stations while the other alleges that the MTA drags its feet when it comes to repairing elevators and escalators. An audit from Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office suggested that the latter accusation has some merit and now, a visual of a subway map that only shows accessible stations might be proving the former.
The Guardian took to the task of examining the accessibility of some of the world’s largest subway systems, including London, Barcelona, Paris, Tokyo, Washington D.C., and New York City, of course. To put things into perspective, they compared the city’s normal subway map with a version they created that only pinpoints fully accessible stations. Needless to say, the visual isn’t exactly brag-worthy.
Here’s what the city’s subway map looks like once non-accessible stations have been removed:
Out of the MTA’s 472 subway stations, only 117— or 20 percent— are fully accessible and even then, mobility-impaired commuters have to pray that they don’t encounter broken elevators and escalators. The next accessible station can be as far as eight stops away (or worse), forcing commuters to have to grapple with tough decisions that may involve unreasonable alternatives or relying on fellow commuters to help them along their way.
The MTA is working to increase the number of accessible stations to 144 by 2020 but that will make about 31 percent of the entire subway system accessible. Disability rights activists argue that at the rate the MTA is going, the system should reach 100 percent accessibility by the year 2100 (ouch).
In case you’re interested, cities with subway systems that were the most accessible were Tokyo with 186 out of 211 and Barcelona with 129 of 156 fully accessible stations. Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are both 100 percent accessible. The worst subway systems for accessibility were London and Paris.
- Access denied: wheelchair metro maps versus everyone else's [The Guardian]
- The NYC subway has an accessibility problem—can it be fixed? [Curbed]
- How I navigate the NYC subway system in a wheelchair [Curbed]
- MTA lags in its repairs to subway escalators and elevators [Curbed]
- NYC subway’s lack of accessibility at the center of two class action lawsuits [Curbed]