October 21, 2005

NYC Subway Elevators "Out of Service More Than They Work"

The elevators at New York City's West 4th Street subway station in the West Village were certified as operational in June, 2005 -- just 4 months ago. Yet disabled riders say that for about half of that time the elevators have been out of service. NYC's Disabled Riders Coalition says that despite knowing about this problem, NYC's transit authority has done nothing to repair the elevators, claiming they're still under warranty and as such the manufacturer's responsibility.

According to news reports, NYC's transit authority says there's a problem with the doors and they anticipate it being at least another month before the elevators go back into service. This does nothing to calm the outrage of disabled riders, who say that the elevators have already been out of service for about a month.

Michael Harris, head of the Disabled Riders Coalition, says he believes that the elevators were defective to begin with, but says the TA has tried to cover up the problem. "If you call the TA's elevator hotline it says that the elevators are 'temporarily out of service', which generally means that they will be back in operation the next day, not the next month. This is blatantly misleading to riders with disabilities," he said, adding, "We are dealing with what are essentially brand new elevators that have been out of service more than they have been in service."

The West 4th Street subway station is a major station and one that is particularly crucial to riders with disabilities. "It is the only station where I can transfer from the A Train to the Sixth Avenue Line," said Edith Prentiss, a Washington Heights resident who uses a wheelchair and says the subway is her prime means of transportation.

According to the Disabled Riders Coalition, the only other accessible station where riders can transfer from the Eighth Avenue Line (A,C,E) to the Sixth Avenue Line (B,D,F,V) is Lexington Avenue - 53rd Street (E,V) -- not exactly convenient for a rider at West 4th Street.

The station serves the NYU Campus as well as the many bars and night clubs in the area and as such is frequently used late at night, when trains don't run very often. "It is an incredible inconvenience to disabled riders," says Harris, who at 2 AM rode an A Train all the way up to 34th Street - Penn Station, then wheel two and a half blocks over to Herald Square, just to get to a southbound Sixth Avenue Line Train to reach his home in Brooklyn. "The TA has not been forthright with riders about this elevator. It causes incredible inconvenience and the TA ought to be ashamed of themselves," he said.

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Posted on October 21, 2005