David Letterman once said, “Everyone has this sense of togetherness right now. For example, one guy on the subway today, he wanted to share my pants.”
If you are a New York City subway rider, you know that sometimes after big national events (like 9/11), everyone suddenly becomes really friendly, helpful, and not bothered by the daily annoyances that normally trigger a lot of complaining. But that doesn’t last too long. For the most part, the subway experience drives a lot of people a little crazy.
New York Times columnsit Clyde Haberman had a piece a few weeks ago arguing that a few slight improvements could make every subway rider’s day-to-day life far more pleasant - like silencing screaching alarm bells, keeping doors open a few seconds to allow transfers betweent trains, better signage, and just more garbage cans.
As bad as things seem for most of us, though, these minor problems are nothing campared to what people in wheelchairs face trying to use New York City subways at all. I honestly don’t know how they do it, and now it turns out, many can’t.
The New York Daily News reports that today, the United Spinal Association and Disability Rights Advocates have filed a class action suit in Manhattan against New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority “for not spending a federally mandated 20% of station rehabilitation budgets on improvements like elevators and ramps.” United Spinal Association's senior vice president James Weismann says:
"Without access to the subway, the MTA makes travel next to impossible for New Yorkers with physical disabilities and prevents them from getting to work or seeking employment.
"The authority's bus and subway division is in the early stages of a $20 million overhaul to the Dyckman St. station on the No. 1 line in northern Manhattan, but it hasn't allocated any funds to making it handicapped accessible, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"The need for accessible subway stations is even more critical because the authority eliminated or scaled-back dozens of bus routes to help close a budget gap earlier this year."
The MTA is also applying a stricter interpretation of who is eligible for its door-to-door van service, Access-A-Ride.
C'mon, MTA, was that really necessary?