City Evaluating Local Subway Station Accessibility and Bus Route Efficiency

The renovated subway station at 110th street was criticized for not having elevators for people with disabilities. Photo by Carol Tannenhauser.

By Alex Israel

The city is in the midst of evaluating Upper West Side subway stations and bus routes to improve accessibility and travel time, according to a member of Community Board 7’s transportation committee.

During the October CB7 transportation committee meeting, co-chair Andrew Albert provided information about the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) initiatives driving these evaluations.

A push for increased subway accessibility comes as part of MTA’s Fast Forward plan, which was introduced earlier this year by New York City Transit (NYCT) President Andy Byford. The plan calls for more than 50 new accessible stations in five years, among other initiatives intended to “modernize New York City Transit.”

According to Albert, who is on the MTA board and is also the chairman of the New York City Transit Riders Council, officials are currently in the process of identifying the highest priority stations across the city. As part of this process, stations currently without elevator access are ranked as green, yellow or red, given the expected difficulty level of a potential elevator installation.

To date, Albert reports that the MTA has completed inspections of the 96th Street, 103rd Street, and 110th Street B/C subway stations along Central Park West, and has ranked them each a ‘yellow’. The remaining stations along Central Park West as well as the stations along the Broadway line have yet to be inspected.

Earlier this year, local residents criticized the MTA for not including enough accessibility features as part of their Enhanced Station Initiative work on the B/C line. That work, which is nearly complete, will include smaller scale measures like LED illuminated handrails and renovated floor topping, but did not receive money for larger scale ADA enhancements like elevators.

With their current classifications, it’s unclear if any of the three B/C stations that have been inspected will be marked as a priority for the MTA. Albert is pulling for the 110th Street station, due to the spaciousness of the plaza that surrounds it, but is also hopeful that the Broadway line will prove to be less difficult than Central Park West. “On the Broadway line I think it’s a slam dunk,” he said.

A rendering of the revamped 110th Street B/C station shows the space on the plaza after the Enhanced Station Initiative work. 

During the meeting, the transportation committee also discussed opportunities to improve local bus travel times. Albert pointed out several problematic intersections throughout the Upper West Side, including 73rd and Broadway, 81st and Amsterdam, 87th and West End, 97th and West End, and 106th and Broadway, where he has identified buses stuck or slowed down unnecessarily due to congestion and traffic signals.

The committee resolved to call for an investigation of these intersections as part of the DOT’s ongoing partnership with MTA to improve bus service through the Transit Signal Priority method, which is used to coordinate transit vehicles and traffic signals to reduce the time buses are stopped at traffic lights along a corridor.

The resolution will be voted on during the next Full Board Meeting on November 7, 2018.

NEWS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Brandon says:

      Why? Why didn’t they evaluate this before closing stations do 6 months for cosmetic chwnges?

      Better late than never I guess.

    2. B flat says:

      Elevators are a great help. All staircases should be replaced by ramps in my opinion.

      • A.C. says:

        That’s a well-intentioned proposal, but an unrealistic prospect. Ramps have to measure at 4.8 degrees or less to be considered wheelchair accessible. That’s a 1-inch rise/fall for every foot. The average subway is about 70-80 feet. That means, at least an 840-foot ramp. That’s one crosstown block or about 3.5 regular blocks. No one has that room. Elevators are a much better proposal. Ramps only work if you have the room, which, we really do not.

        • Upperwestsidewally says:

          Again, I’m all in favor of elevators. Ramps are indeed not an option. But I foresee major protests when people find a 12 x 12 x 12 foot “phone booth” in front of their apartment. 110th Street might have been an exception since it has a little more space.

        • B.B. says:

          One huge reason why traffic moves far easier in Grand Central Terminal versus Penn Station is that the former was designed with ramps leading to and from train platforms.

          New York Central’s terminal allowed for the smooth and easy movement of both humans and baggage/things on wheels thanks to ramps with gentle inclines.

          OTOH as we all know from the subway stairs cause all sorts of movement problems. Penn Station is no different in that aspect than say 79th Street and Broadway or any other subway station. Bottlenecks occur when large numbers of people (and the stuff they’re hauling) needs to navigate up/down stairs.

      • EricaC says:

        I like that idea in principle, but ramps generally have to be much, much longer than staircases because to be wheelchair usable, they can’t be too steep.

      • Sid says:

        Those ramps would be extraordinarily steep, and also not ADA compliant.

      • Kenneth says:

        Ramps require huge amounts of horizontal space. Ramps typically need to be 12 inches long for every 1 inch of rise (elevation). That means a ramp that elevates you 10 feet needs to be 120 feet long. This is not possible with most existing subway station configurations.

    3. Glen says:

      The Uptown 1 station at 86th Street needs another exit at the north end of the platform. The downtown side has one at W87.

    4. Carlos says:

      It makes absolutely no sense that they didn’t do this before starting the work on the CPW subway stations. Fortunately, I think that 81st St. is the best candidate for an elevator and they haven’t done any work there yet. With the existing elevators on Broadway at 72 and 96, this would go a long way towards solving the problem.

    5. Charlie says:

      Occurs to me that the Yoko Ono mural project might also be extended to other stations. Think about pastoral murals with slogans like “Imagine Uncrowded Trains”, “Imagine Clean Stations” and “Imagine the Person in Front of You Isn’t Walking Up the Stairs Slowly Reading an Iphone”.

    6. robert says:

      The closed them to do as many repairs as possible and stay under the threshold of having to do elevators Each one cost tens, yes tens of millions to install and mait by the MTA
      This price includes the need to buy the street space from NYC by MTA. Don’t believe me, take a look at the project at 72nd and B’way. that’s exactly what the had to do. Since our self appointed community leaders have now landmarked much of the UWS that adds a whole nother level of costs and/or approvals needed The same elected that are yelling about the MTA should do this or that won’t step up and fund it.

      How about we stop wasting monies on political hand outs to certain will connected pressure groups, think bike lanes skateboard parks in Riverside. Us the money where the most people will benefit. And for gods sake MAITAIN it once its installed. The stuff in riverside part is rotting away, its wood, and the tree pits in the bike lands were never planted are now over grown with several foot high growth of weeds from several years and have become garbage dumps with rats burrows in most of them.

    7. Susan Epler says:

      Please move the downtown bus stop on the #10 bus back to the corner of West 110th and the Frederick Douglass Circle. Passengers must walk from West 112 St. south to 110 to make a transfer .The current set up
      Happened at least nine years ago with the reconstruction project. The work is over. Time to return to the former configuration. Reduce stress for all, shorten commute time. Build elevator!! Many disabled and seniors Live in this area. MTA violates the ADA every day!! The ADA has been on the books since 1990!

    8. Mike says:

      How in the world the 86 Street #1 Station has been allowed to exist with only one area of egress is mind-boggling. God forbid there is ever an emergency requiring evacuation people would certainly be trampled.

    9. StevenCinNYC says:

      96th St 1,2,3 station should have elevators at both ends, especially since the current ones at the northern end are frequently out of order.

    10. Carolyn Birden says:

      The intersection of Broadway and 110th Street has two buses going north/south, one going East turning N/S, and a train, the #1 local. This area is a hub for many workers but more importantly for many patients going to St.Luke’s and taking the #4 crosstown to the Mt.Sinai complex. An elevator is desperately needed for all of the disabled and elderly, at all hours, transferring between the trains and the buses. There is only one entrance on the West side of Broadway, so the area in front of the SW corner is the logical place for one elevator at least: downtown: anyone needing to travel uptown could go to 96th and cross over there.

    11. IRG says:

      Reading these comments reminds me of what some New Yorkers consider important: Appearances and property values.

      I spent decades walking the streets, using the subways, etc. and marveling at how some folks with either temporary or permanent mobility issues got around. I was the person who always gave up their seat to someone who needed to sit for one reason or another.

      Four years ago, with the side-effects of cancer treatment, I ended up in a wheelchair. The whole city took on a new and disheartening air.

      NYC is so far behind in accommodating folks in wheelchairs that it is hard to believe it is a major city. My friends from Europe are incredulous that it is so hard to access so many venues. (Some of them live in cities that are hundreds if not thousands of years old, some destroyed by war, and they still have better access!)

      I am lucky in that I can work from home. (Not so lucky in that given my age and condition, I can’t get around on my own.) I also live in an elevator building.

      However, my landmarked, co-op doesn’t even have a ramp or any way for me to get out of the building. My aide has to use a tiny, wooden, rickety ramp for the exit door in the building. Without that, the chair cannot go up or down and given its size, it wouldn’t even work if someone had a motorized chair.

      Every day, thousands of men and women struggle with long journeys, with no other option, and take multiple subways to get to work. (Read the new york times articles on it.) Every day, we can’t even get around our own neighborhoods because the curbs (and sidewalks) are nightmares of wholes, depressions, cracks, etc. that can send you out of your chair and onto the street. Even with aides, you have to do several maneuvers. In some parts of NYC, people have to go blocks out of their way to get anywhere.

      It infuriates me that all the talk about MTA improvements have NEVER really addressed accessibility.

      When I first landed in the wheelchair I thought: OK, the subways have elevators. I can do this.

      Guess what? Elevators are out a lot and you can get stuck in a station with no way out unless you get police or firemen. THat’s no way to get around.

      I signed up for alerts when elevators were out. I won’t tell you how many you get in a day and how long it takes for them to get back up. Also, the location of the elevators is often so far away from exits and such that this alone is a challenge.

      Most new yorkers are both unaware and in some cases, truly uncaring, about how challenging this is. UNLESS you or someone you care about is in a wheelchair and becomes housebound because they can’t get around.

      I joke that the only way our building would ever get even a temporary ramp is if the president of the co-op board ended up in a wheelchair. Seriously (and oh, yes, many buildings are exempt from complying with ADA)

      If a city decides to become accessible, it will. I now note which venues make an effort for accessibility. They’ll get my $ and my thanks.

      One thing: In a million years I never expected to be in a wheelchair, let alone permanently. I never thought my city would be so lax in its efforts to help its citizens.

      Right now, there are folks reading this who will, sadly, find themselves in this situation somewhere down the road.

      So I have no patience for the MTA or neighbors who have issues with the installation of elevators.

      As a formerly mobile person, I can honestly say that I was truly truly unaware of how many challenges my neighbors have faced over the years in terms of just getting around. It’s one thing to give a seat, that I could and did do. But I can’t install elevators or have the power to make shops, stores, etc. wheelchair friendly and accessible.

      And I won’t even talk about those who are so thoughtless as to give ‘tude to wheelchair bound neighbors as they try, politely, to get around

    12. Namesless says:

      Eliminating bus stop does not serve the public well.
      For instance, approximately six month ago M104 changed locations for their south bound route without any notifications.

      Many bus drivers are rude, often they just drive on at stops without a backward glance, passengers are waving furiously.