NY1 Exclusive: Wheelchair Riders Getting Stuck At Accessible Subway Stations
Some disabled New Yorkers say many subway stations that are supposed to be accessible actually aren't. They say that puts their lives at risk. NY1's Tina Redwine filed the following report.
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Michele Kaplan says her wheelchair frequently gets stuck in the gap between the platform and the subway car at stations that the MTA has spent millions making wheelchair accessible. The most recent time was about two weeks ago at the Dekalb Avenue station in downtown Brooklyn.
"I was terrified," she says. "I would get dragged or the door would close on me or, you know, I would fall in the gap."
She says three passengers stepped off the train and rescued her. Now, every time she's ready to board, she prays a higher power will intervene in what she says feels like a game of Russian Roulette.
"It's very, very stressful," she says. "It shouldn't be. I'm not diving out of a plane here. I'm just trying to take the subway."
Kaplan isn't alone. Others say they also frequently need to rely on the kindness of strangers to get on the subway at what's supposed to be an accessible station platform.
"I just ask somebody to assist me and if I can't, I just have to wait or leave I guess," says subway rider Alicia Guy.
The federal government says the gap between the platform and the subway can't be more than four inches wide and two inches high at ADA-accessible station platforms like those at Dekalb.
The MTA says its special boarding areas comply. But NY1 measured the gap in the designated area on four different trains and found three where the vertical gap was higher than the maximum two inches.
Kaplan says she's started a petition in protest after writing the MTA several times.
"Nothing changes after a while," she says. "It feels like it's a form letter that everybody gets. They're not really taking it seriously."
The MTA says the height requirement only applies to subway cars that are half full and the height of the car shifts depending on how many people are on board, which the MTA has no control over.
The MTA says the designated boarding areas it's built are more level with the subway cars and they're also within sight of the conductor, so riders who need extra help can ask for it.