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MTA turns Jay Street-MetroTech station into an accessibility ‘lab’

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Transit officials are testing new accessibility measures on the Brooklyn station

Blue signage on the floor of the Jay Street-Metro Tech station states, “Boarding” beside yellow tactile guides designed to help visually impaired passengers onto trains at the edge of the subway platform.
The MTA has added new way-finding and “tactile guideways” to Jay Street-Metro Tech as part of a new accessibility pilot.
Amy Plitt/Curbed NY

For many disabled New Yorkers, just making it onto a train can be a grueling task.

More than 350 subway stops lack elevators for people in wheelchairs—or parents with strollers, travelers with luggage, or anyone else who cannot climb stairs. While the MTA is working to upgrade its ailing elevator infrastructure through its next capital plan, the authority is also testing new accessibility measures for more immediate benefits.

Subway officials announced Wednesday that they are turning Brooklyn’s Jay Street-Metrotech subway hub into an “accessible station lab.” The pilot program will rely on a mix of physical infrastructure and smartphone apps geared toward making subway travel accessible to riders of all abilities.

A diagram that shows how to navigate a subway station if you have disabilities.
A plaque at Jay Street-Metro Tech with clearly mapped accessibility routes.

Among these measures are “tacile guideways” and colorful way-finding stripes on station floors and stairs, Braille signage, and interactive subway maps. Officials are also testing five free apps to assist people with disabilities, such as NaviLens that provides sign information in audio for people who are visually impaired. The new features will last until December 31.

Jay Street-Metro Tech is one of 110 subway stations that boasts elevators with an average of more than 42,000 riders passing through the bustling hub on any weekday, according to MTA data. Transit officials selected the Downtown Brooklyn stop for the pilot due to its high ridership and location at a nexus of bustling neighborhoods.