Wheelchair & stroller advocates call for subway access
A new feature unveiled last week on HopStop.com allows subway riders to pick the best route if they need a stroller or a wheelchair, but some say the tech assistance only highlights a growing concern for the MTA to make the subway more available to all New Yorkers.
Manhattan mom Jess Tonn, 32, has already used the HopStop feature to navigate the city while pushing her 6-month-old daughter, Marjorie.
“I find the MTA’s map confusing,” Tonn said.
She tries to use stations that have elevators, she said, but instead often ends up having to carry her daughter up and down long and dangerous flights of stairs.
“What if I lose my balance?” she said. “It’s scary.”
Critics say the MTA isn’t doing enough to help stroller-pushing parents, as well as those who use wheelchairs.
“We have not seen anywhere near the progress we need in making additional stations accessible,” Councilman James Vacca said.
The United Spinal Association recently sued the MTA for failing to spend a federally mandated 20 percent of station rehab budgets on making them wheelchair-friendly.
“Every piece of accessible public transportation in New York is the result of a lawsuit — none of it was done voluntarily,” said USA spokesman Ahvi Spindell.
Elevators, escalators unreliable
The MTA lets riders know which elevators and escalators are working, and which are out of service, on MTA.info, but Spindell says riders can still be caught by surprise.
“For anyone who uses a wheelchair, it’s not an easy thing to get from one borough to the next,” he said. “And when they get there, chances are the elevator may not be working.”
During the third quarter of this year, there were 59 incidents of people being trapped in subway elevators in Manhattan and 96 entrapments systemwide, according to MTA data.
A stroller nightmare
Heidi Flanagan, 37, a Park Slope mom, recalled one time at the 42nd Street F station, carrying her daughter down stairs. “I was going slow and this woman started yelling at me. She kept saying I shouldn’t be carrying a stroller down the stairs at rush hour,” she said. “She followed me the whole way, screaming.”
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro