Bay Ridge

OPINION: MTA deserves praise for building 86th Street elevator

June 21, 2018 By Raanan Geberer Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A subway entrance at the 86th Street and Fourth Avenue station on the R train. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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A while ago, I wrote about the relative scarcity of elevators in the subway system. In particular, I mentioned that Bay Ridge community leaders were up in arms after the MTA last year renovated three stations on the R line but didn’t include elevators in any of them.

Subway elevators are important in any neighborhood where seniors form a large part of the population, which includes much of southern and southwest Brooklyn. While some people might think that escalators will solve the problem, that’s not true.

Many elderly, disabled or even semi-disabled people get around using wheelchairs or walkers. It’s impossible to maneuver an escalator in a wheelchair and extremely difficult to get up and down one while holding a walker.

Therefore, I welcome the news, recently reported in the Brooklyn Eagle, that the MTA has seen fit to begin building a long-awaited elevator at the 86th Street station on the R line. The disabled-access elevator was promised in 2015, but its construction was only one of many projects listed in the transit agency’s latest capital plan. According to Eagle writer Paula Katinas, disability advocates had been pushing for an elevator at that location for 10 years before the actual announcement.

Some people might think that because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the MTA is obligated to put elevators in all stations that are being upgraded. However, bear in mind that many subway stations are more than 100 years old, and some just don’t have the space for elevators. Instead, the MTA has instituted the Key Stations Plan, which earmarks particular stations for elevators based on ridership level, number of people transferring to other lines or buses at the station, closeness to major institutions and whether they are at the end of the line. MTA has a plan to create 100 key stations by 2020, and evidently 86th Street is one of those stations.

Eighty-sixth Street in Bay Ridge is a destination for many people, transit riders and otherwise, because of the important stores that are located there: TJ Maxx, P.C. Richard, Banana Republic, Century 21 Department Store, Modells, Duane Reade Drugs, Bank of America and more.

It’s also an important bus street with several lines, most notably the B1, which goes almost the entire length of 86th Street from Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge to Avenue X in Gravesend, and from there to Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach. Under the elevated D train, 86th Street in Bensonhurst is a center in its own right, and when the elevator at Fourth Avenue is completed, a disabled person could conceivable leave the R train, get onto the B1 bus and journey there.

The MTA, according to another article in this publication by Katinas two years ago, “is also moving ahead with another elevator at the R train terminus at 95th Street.” A station at the end of the line, such as 95th Street, definitely meets the “key stations” criteria we mentioned earlier.

I’m well aware that for a number of factors, not every station in the subway system can have elevators. But the more the better, and I’m glad that MTA New York City Transit has taken a step in this direction at 86th Street and Fourth Avenue.


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