MTA pilots accessibility features at Downtown subway station

Advocates Jessica De La Rosa and Valerie Joseph said they welcome the additions 110 percent, but they want more money put into elevator maintenance.
Photo by Ben Verde

Bigwigs at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled their latest strategies to enhance subway accessibility at a Downtown Brooklyn subway station on Tuesday.

The state-run agency tricked out the Jay Street–MetroTech station in America’s Downtown with features designed to aide blind straphangers find their train, including maps with braille guidelines and textured strips that lead disabled commuters from elevators to platforms, along with apps providing audio directions for the deaf.

The Transit Authority will study whether the low-cost amenities provide actual benefits to the blind, before deciding whether to expand the program to additional stations, according to one transit guru.

“The beauty of this pilot is the ability to collect real–world feedback from riders on whether changes work or not — and to adjust accordingly,” Said Colin Wright, a Senior Advocacy Associate at Transit Center, a transit boosting non–profit.

The new features are proving helpful to more than just the blind, according to one commuter, who said that, while he sees just fine, he found it easier to find his train nonetheless.

“Its definitely made it a lot easier,” said George West, who uses a walker to get around.

Aboubaca Kaba, who uses a motorized wheelchair to get around, agreed.

“It makes it easier,” he said, while riding the elevator at Jay Street on Thursday. “I don’t have to ask anyone where the elevator is.”

But accessibility advocates weren’t impressed by the new features, saying disabled commuters need elevators over anything else.

“I want to see more money put towards maintenance in elevators, and I want to see more elevators,” said Jessica De La Rosa, a wheelchair-bound advocate for the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled.

Reach reporter Ben Verde at (718) 260–2525 or by e-mail at bverde@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @verde_nyc.

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