Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Disabled people blocked from NY subway access with constant elevator breakdowns

The New York Times reports that New York City Transit has spent about $1 billion on more than 200 new elevators and escalators in the subway system since the early 1990s with the goal of providing better access to people with disabilities.

But a large number of the subway system's elevators and escalators were consistently out of service. City Transit data shows that one of every six elevators and escalators in the subway system was out of service for more than a month in 2007.

"The 169 escalators in the subway averaged 68 breakdowns or repair calls each last year, with the worst machines logging more than double that number," The New York Times reports. "And some of the least reliable escalators in the system are also some of the newest, accumulating thousands of hours out of service for what officials described as a litany of mechanical flaws. Two-thirds of the subway elevators — many of which travel all of 15 feet — had at least one breakdown last year in which passengers were trapped inside."

The number of elevators has risen since the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act prompted a more accessible transit system. In 1990, the subway system had 48 elevators, which has risen to 167 in 62 stations today.

By 2020 New York City Transit has pledged to make 100 key stations fully accessible so dozens more elevators and escalators are planned.