Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS), et al. v. Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), et al.
Disability Rights Advocates filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”) and New York City Transit Authority (“NYCTA”) on June 28, 2016 challenging their failure to install an elevator when they completed a $21.85 million rehabilitation to the Middletown Road subway station in the Bronx. The lawsuit alleges that although the MTA closed the station for seven months between October 2013 and May 2014 to undertake extensive work that included replacing staircases, structural steel framing, ceilings, walls, and track structure, they refused to perform the necessary work to make the station accessible to persons who use wheelchairs or other devices for mobility. DRA represents Bronx Independent Living Services (“BILS”), Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York (“DIA”), and two Bronx residents with mobility disabilities who need elevators to access subway stations.
New York City has one of the worst public transportation systems for people with disabilities in the United States. Almost 26 years after the passage of the ADA, only 19% of New York City subway stations are fully accessible to persons with disabilities. By contrast, 100% of Washington DC stations, 100% of San Francisco Bay Area stations, 74% of Boston stations, 68% of Philadelphia stations, and 67% of Chicago stations are wheelchair-accessible.
Because of these barriers to accessing subway stations, people with disabilities who would like to use the Middletown Road subway station are denied the opportunity to participate in community life on the same terms as those without disabilities. “Inaccessible public transportation interferes with the ability of people with disabilities to hold down jobs, keep medical appointments, and partake in community activities,” said Brett Eisenberg, Executive Director of BILS.
Anthony Trocchia, President of DIA, added: “Many may take access to the subway system for granted, but for our members and constituents, the exceedingly few elevators is a daily reminder of how little effort the MTA has placed on making it a system open to all. Hopefully this suit can initiate a change in MTA priorities.”
The lawsuit alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the New York City Human Rights Law. It seeks an order requiring the MTA to construct elevators at the Middletown Road subway station to make the station accessible to all.