Opinion: Elevator, budgets and billionaires


As was reported by this paper and other publications, Park Slope’s Seventh Avenue F/G subway station will be getting an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant elevator.

In my day job, I was happy to announce that Brooklyn Community Board 6’s April 15th Transportation meeting will feature the MTA presenting its plans for the elevator and other improvements. This announcement follows years of community advocacy, and it’s great to see it coming to fruition.

However, we shouldn’t have to advocate and wait years to have a green light for such improvements at various stations across the city. As one headline, when the announcement was first made read, “Some Subway Stations Getting Elevators While Others Get the Shaft.”

Passengers at non-compliant stations shouldn’t have to endlessly hope that their station becomes ADA accessible — it should be funded and done ASAP. We’ve got plenty of billionaires who live in New York and who’ve gotten much richer during this pandemic and, as such, should be taxed to make things like ADA accessible subway stations the standard across our city’s subway system. 

Yes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has said that tax increases aren’t necessary, since we can avoid cuts thanks to the federal stimulus and higher than projected tax revenue. However, building back better and fairer means we should fund New York State government to expand services to make them match our aspirations.

There are lots of aspects of government services, each of which speaks to the quality of life and possible improvement, but I’ll stick with the subway, specifically the F/G line, for now.

Heading towards Manhattan, two stations away from the Seventh Avenue stop mentioned in the first paragraph, sits the highest commuter train stop in the world, Smith and Ninth Streets

Despite this height, there is no elevator, and escalators don’t go to the top when they go at all. So, if you aren’t able to walk up stairs, this is not the station for you. Nevermind the fact it’s the closest station to the subwayless, transit-deprived Red Hook neighborhood.  

There are many other examples of limiting access and services, in all government policy and services, across our state. Such shortcomings have been treated as an acceptable grin-and-bear-it norm. We shouldn’t continue down that path, and the state’s budget should, despite the governor’s objection, include significant tax increases on those with the wealth to absorb the increases without pain and for the greater good.  With that, announcements like ADA improvements for subway stations and fully funded schools could be the acceptable norm.

I’m sure some folks reading this immediately think that these billionaires will just pick up and leave. Lots of history and data highlight how that isn’t what happens and, to quote a hedge manager on the matter of billionaires fleeing the state, “the problem with moving to Florida is that you have to live in Florida.” So, they can solve this problem, and avoid alligators, by moving back and paying taxes that will help their fellow New Yorkers.