BENSONHURST, Brooklyn – Transit advocates rallied in south Brooklyn on Wednesday to secure congestion pricing so that upgrades to subways, particularly elevator installations for elderly and disabled people, can be made.
Getting around the lower part of the borough is hard for George Bettman, a member of advocacy group Riders Alliance.
“Over the years my accessibility has declined,” Bettman said. “Now, I depend on escalators and elevators more than ever. When I have to go somewhere by subway, I look for subway stations that have an escalator or elevator even though it may take me out of my way but get me to where I need to.”
The transit and disability advocacy groups say only 25 percent of the subway system citywide is accessible, making it harder for disabled people, seniors with limited mobility, and parents with strollers to take the train.
Senator Andrew Gounardes says outer borough communities are disenfranchised and impacted the most by the lack of accessible stations.
The 18th Avenue D train station, where the rally was held, is slated to receive an elevator as part of the current MTA capital plan.
“This capital plan that we are currently in the midst of, which does not have enough funding as speak, would bring five additional elevators to southern Brooklyn,” Gounardes said.
The groups say congestion pricing is the answer to funding because fare hikes, they claim, have resulted in no noticeable improvements.
Jaqi Cohen, the director of Climate and Equity Policy at the Tri-state Transportation Campaign, says the money from congestion pricing is essential.
“Without the funds, the necessary funds that congestion pricing will bring in, the billions of dollars congestion pricing will bring in, we’re worried that these projects will remain on the back burner as they have for so many years,” Cohen said.
The MTA pledged $5 billion to install elevators at 70 additional stations, which the groups say is immense but doesn’t provide complete accessibility, so their work isn’t done yet.