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Senator Andrew Gounardes Holds “Save Our Elevators Rally” in Southern Brooklyn

October 13, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Senator Andrew Gounardes, along with dozens of transit, disability, and community advocacy groups, held a rally at a southern Brooklyn subway stop this morning to call for better subway station accessibility and elevators. At the 18th Ave D train station in Bensonhurst, Broooklyn, the Senator called for the expediting of congestion pricing so that our subways and buses can receive the much-needed funding required to upgrade our transit system.

As public hearings on congestion pricing wrapped up today, people in the city and surrounding area have had a chance to voice their opinions about the best way to implement the funding stream that would bring billions of dollars to create improvements to the subway and bus system. Often missing from this discussion, however, is the significant need to improve accessibility in the city’s subway stations and buses so that people with disabilities, seniors, pregnant people, people with strollers, delivery people, and more can move around the city safely.

Millions of New Yorkers depend on a functioning transit system every day, and with 19 percent of people in southern Brooklyn being 65 and over, the need for elevators and fast and reliable subways and buses could not be more necessary.

“New Yorkers with disabilities deserve a transit system that serves them dependably and conveniently,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes. “Without accessibility resources like elevators and escalators in place, countless community members will be unable to easily move around the city. But we can’t provide a solution without proper funding, which is why it’s time that we accelerate congestion pricing to fix and upgrade our subways and buses, and provide accessible services so that all New Yorkers can get where they need to go safely, affordably and reliably.”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

“More than half of the neighborhoods in New York City lack a single accessible subway station, more than thirty years after ADA was passed,” said Jessica Murray, Lead Organizer, Rise and Resist Elevator Action Group. “We support the goals of congestion pricing, both to reduce traffic congestion and enhance safety, lessen emissions, and to provide funding for the MTA’s 2020-2024 capital plan, which promises to make 70 more subway stations in the city wheelchair accessible. We urge the MTA and the Governor to implement congestion pricing as soon as possible and follow through on this promise.”

“An inaccessible subway is an inequitable subway, and our city’s subway system is largely inaccessible,” said Jaqi Cohen, Director of Climate and Equity Policy at Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “All New Yorkers deserve access to our city’s public transit system, yet less than a quarter of all subway stations in New York City are ADA accessible. The MTA has committed to adding elevators at 70 additional subway stations as part of its current capital program, but without the critical funding for these projects that congestion pricing will provide, we fear that many of these projects will be put on the back burner. To get more New Yorkers on transit and to make New York a more accessible place to live, it has never been more important to implement congestion pricing.”

“New York City needs congestion pricing to take effect immediately. In addition to reducing traffic gridlock and emissions, congestion pricing is also the single largest funder of the MTA’s 2020-24 $55B Capital Plan,” said Christopher Schuyler, Senior Staff Attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “Congestion pricing will raise $15B for the Capital Plan, which promises $10B in station accessibility improvements and elevator installations, including at this very station. Assuming the broad exemptions of people with disabilities from the congestion pricing toll, New York’s local and state governments must treat the implementation of congestion pricing as an urgent priority.”

“After years of divestment, our bus and subway system needs so much work, such as an improved signaling system for the subways, track maintenance and the installation of escalators and elevators so people with disabilities can access the subway,” said Riders Alliance member and Canarsie resident George Bettman. “There are a large number of riders, including myself, that depend on escalators and elevators to get around the subway system. We often walk far distances and travel way out of our way just to find one of the few accessible stations, only to find out that the elevator is broken. We need to do better, now, and that means investing in our transit system. An increase in fares would not cover the cost of the necessary improvements. The riding public can only contribute so much for subway improvements. The money that congestion pricing will bring in will do so much to improve our transit system.”

Subways lines and stops in southern Brooklyn that are slated to receive accessibility improvements under proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan:

  • 18th Ave, D line
  • Sheepshead Bay, B and Q lines
  • King’s Highway, N line
  • King’s Highway, F line
  • Neptune Ave, F line

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