US Department of Justice Joins DRA Suit Against the MTA
On March 13, 2018, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a Complaint-in-Intervention in Bronx Independent Living Services, et al. v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, et. al, our case challenging the MTA’s failure to install elevators at its newly-renovated Middletown Road station. In this complaint and its accompanying press release, the United States concurs with the argument that DRA attorneys have been advancing for years: in short, that by making extensive renovations to Middletown Road (including completely demolishing and replacing the station’s rotting and rusted staircases) without also ensuring that the station was made readily accessible to people with disabilities to the “maximum extent feasible,” the MTA violated federal law. As a result of this violation, people whose disabilities make it impossible to climb stairs still cannot even enter the station, though the MTA has now spent over $27 million making it better for everyone else.
New York City has the least accessible subway system of any major U.S. city, by far. Of its 472 stations, only 112 can be used by people who cannot climb stairs. That is less than 1 station out of every 4. In the Bronx, home to large numbers of the city’s disabled, elderly, minority, and low-income residents, the situation is even worse: only 11 stations in the entire borough are accessible to people with disabilities, amounting to a meager 16% of the total number of Bronx stations. The section of the “6” line that runs through the Bronx, and of which Middletown Road station is a part, is worse still—of the 18 stations along the 6 line, only two (11%) are accessible. In the 110 blocks between these two stations (a distance that contains 10 subway stops, including Middletown), people with disabilities have no way of entering or leaving a “6” line station.
Through this suit, DRA and our plaintiffs hope to ensure that Middletown Road is made fully accessible, as it should have been in the first instance. We also hope to set a precedent that stations that are extensively renovated in this way must be made accessible, so that people with disabilities are not continually excluded from the city’s subway stations after MTA has spent millions of dollars making them safer and better for everyone else. This is particularly relevant since many other stations in the subway system are scheduled to undergo renovations similar to those that occurred at Middletown Road, in the coming years. The United States’ intervention in this case provides considerable support for Plaintiffs’ position and arguments, and we are now even more confident in our ability to achieve these goals.