Mother’s death in subway station focuses attention on accessibility and elevators

Riders have been demanding for decades that elevators be installed at train stations in New York City.

MTA officials have scheduled a public meeting at its headquarters on February 6 to gather information about new accessibility and station projects.

The death of 22-year-old Malaysia Goodson at the 7th Avenue-53rd Street Station in Manhattan has focused more attention on accessibility.

  • 75 percent of stations in the MTA NYC Transit system do not have elevators.
  • 118 of the 472 stations are accessible.
  • 26 additional stations are currently funded for full accessibility.

The cost and design of elevators and escalators has been an issue in previous projects.

In mid-2018, MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford announced that accessibility would be one of the four main points of the Fast Forward plan. He pledged that riders would be no more than two stations away from elevators within 5 years of the plan's funding.

Here's the entire statement from the MTA after the death of Ms. Goodson:
“This is an absolutely heartbreaking incident. While the ultimate cause of the event is being investigated by the MTA, medical examiner, and the NYPD, we know how important it is to improve accessibility in our system. The Fast Forward Plan acknowledges and prioritizes this work as one of four key priorities, and aims to ensure that riders will never be more than two stops away from a station with an elevator. This will be accomplished through the addition of up to 50 elevators over the next five years. We believe this is an important issue of practicality and equality, and once accomplished, riders will never be more than two stops away from a station with an elevator.”

MTA reports that a preliminary MTA investigation last night found the stairs, railing, floor were in good condition.

From the street, she had climbed down five flights to the final staircase leading to the uptown B, D, and E platform at the station just before 8 p.m. Monday. Police say she suffered a "medical episode" and fell while carrying her 18-month-old daughter in her stroller.

Goodson's family talked about her life with PIX11 News Reporter James Ford.

"I can't think straight, I'll be honest with you," said Dieshe Goodson, 23, Malaysia's brother, in front of their home in Stamford Tuesday morning. "I don't know what to do."

View that report here.

Advocates held a rally on Wednesday outside the subway station where Goodson died. People in wheelchairs, families and riders have been speaking about accessibility for years.

Click here for the transit agency information about current status of elevators and escalators.

Funding of the Fast Forward plan will cover signals, elevators and improvements to address service.  The debate is happening during budget negotiations in Albany with New York Governor Cuomo and the legislature.

The deal is due at the end of March.

The agency’s first-ever systemwide accessibility chief was hired in June 2018. Alex Elegudin oversees plans to expand subway and bus accessibility, as well as improve Access-A-Ride service.

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