Five uptown subway stations will undergo much-needed accessibility improvements with the installation of new elevators that will require closures at two stations lasting for up to a year. The MTA announced that it would begin work at the five “deep” subway stations in Washington Heights in January, and stagger work at the stations requiring extended closure.
The first to undergo work, which will also include upgrades to communications, security, and fire alarm systems, will be the 1 stop at the 168th Street station. The 1 platform at the station will remain closed through January 2020, and work will not affect A and C service at the station.
The 181st Street A station will follow with work continuing from October 2019 to October 2020. During that time, elevator entrances to the station will be closed but A train service will still be available via non-elevator entrances. The 191st Street 1 station will remain operational while it undergoes work from February 2020 to February 2021 with elevator entrances closed for repairs and the platform accessible via non-elevator entrances. The 190th Street A station will undergo work from November 2020 to November 2021 and be accessible via non-elevator entrances. The 181st Street 1 station will be closed from March 2021 to February 2022; during that time, trains will bypass this station.
The MTA says the extended closure is a result of the stations’ depth in the ground, and the fact that the existing elevator components are a century or more old (as if there wasn’t already enough to be wary of there.)
During the disruptions, M5 bus service will be increased and straphangers will be able to use a free MetroCard transfer on the M3, M4 or M5 buses between 157th and 168th streets.
“Replacing these elevators is long overdue and critical for reliable access to these unique ‘deep stations,’ and we’ve put together a schedule that takes care not to cause unnecessary inconvenience for customers,” said MTA New York City Transit President Andy Byford.
Just 117 of the city’s 472 subway stations are accessible to riders using wheelchairs or with other mobility impairments. As with the stations in Washington Heights, many of the city’s subway stations are over a century old and built well before the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. While the five new station elevators are a boon to a public transit system starving for increased accessibility, they are just a start.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect revised information released by the MTA.