The MTA is involved in a struggle over subway renovations. The U.S. attorney’s office has joined a lawsuit over the lack of an elevator for disabled riders.
As a man with disabilities, it is hard for Daniel Porro to get up and down the steps at the Middletown Road subway station in Bronx.
“I got bad legs,” he said.
So when the MTA completed renovations at the station in 2013, Porro and his group, the Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, were outraged the MTA did not build an elevator, so they could all ride the rails.
“We’re almost like stuck in our communities. We can’t get in and we can’t get out,” he said.
The group has filed a lawsuit against the MTA, claiming by not building an elevator during the $27 million face-lift, the agency broke several laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“This is a renovation that only made the station more useable for certain New Yorkers,” said Rebecca Rodgers, an attorney with Disability Rights Advocates.
The group’s lawyer said the MTA never even considered building an elevator, claiming it did not feel it was possible and did not believe it was legally required to. Both, she said, are false.
“We are not asking for monetary damages. We are asking them to build the elevators,” Rodgers said.
The Pelham Bay Park subway stop is the closest station that is wheelchair accessible. It is about one mile away, and many people find themselves going out of their way to use it.
“It’s really problematic, you know. I have arthritis in the knees,” commuter Luanna Ward said.
The MTA defended itself, saying it is “committed to adding and maintain accessibility for the century-old subway system.”
But the U.S. attorney’s office does not seem to buy it. The Southern District of New York has now added its name to the list of people suing the MTA.
“A project that is to upgrade the services for everyone but the disability community – that’s unheard of,” said Porro.
But these Bronx residents hope that can be changed.
The MTA said it spent more than $1.7 billion to make subway stations ADA accessible.