MTA Accessibility Construction, a 33 Year Long Project

Long Island Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by Governor Kathy Hochul’s Office, and was published on June 22nd, 2022.

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and accessibility advocates reached a class action settlement agreement that affirms the MTA’s commitment towards accessibility in the subway system. The agreement will resolve two class action lawsuits (Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, et al. v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, et al. No. 153765/2017 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co.) and De La Rosa et al. v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority et al. No. 19-cv-04406 (ER) (S.D.N.Y.)), and is subject to court approval, a notice period where class members will have the opportunity to comment, and a fairness hearing. Under the terms of the agreement, the MTA will add elevators or ramps to create a stair-free path of travel at 95 percent of the currently inaccessible subway stations by 2055.

“No New Yorker should have to worry about whether or not they can safely access public transportation,” Governor Hochul said. “This agreement between the MTA and accessibility advocates is a critical step towards further expanding accessibility in our subways and serving the needs of New Yorkers with disabilities. My administration will continue to ensure that New York State is accessible for all.”

The announced agreement builds on the Authority’s ongoing mission to enhance accessibility throughout the subway system at an accelerated pace. The MTA has completed accessibility projects at 15 subway stations across four boroughs since 2020, all while the Authority was dealing with a dire financial crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MTA has awarded contracts for another 22 stations and has an additional 13 station projects in procurement.

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “Even during the dire financial crisis brought on by the pandemic, the MTA prioritized accessibility, leading to the completion of 15 accessibility projects. There will be 81 more projects in progress by the end of the 2020-2024 capital plan, which includes a historic $5.2 billion dedicated to accessibility upgrades. These commitments, combined with recently enacted zoning that incentivizes private developers to incorporate station accessibility projects into their buildings, will help us achieve a fully accessible transit system much faster than ever before imagined.”

MTA Chief Accessibility Officer and Senior Advisor Quemuel Arroyo said, “This is a seminal moment for accessibility in the New York City transit system. For far too long, the MTA and accessibility advocates have appeared at odds over a goal that we in fact share, making the transit system fully accessible. This settlement is not just the unveiling of a gameplan, but the start of a closer collaboration between the MTA and advocates to achieve our shared goal, to ensure that everyone has the ability to ride mass transit without needing to plan around accessible stations.”

Joe Rappaport, Executive Director of Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled said, “Hallelujah! Finally, some good news! This extraordinary agreement ensures that no one will be shut out of the fastest, best way to get around town. For BCID, like the other plaintiffs and our attorneys, this is the culmination of years of advocacy, both in and out of the courtroom. We’re immensely proud we and the MTA have reached this day.”

Dr. Sharon McLennon-Wier, Ph.D., CRC, LMHC, Executive Director of Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York said, “It is my pleasure as an advocate for accessibility, after decades of advocacy and hard work by disability-related stakeholders, to celebrate the commitment to access for all who use New York City’s subway system operated by the MTA. Everyone who lives, works, or visits New York City and our amazing state will benefit from the promise of universal access that our work with the MTA on this settlement agreement will afford our community. This took a collaborative approach and dedication by numerous disability advocates who envisioned a more accessible city for all New Yorkers.”

As part of the agreement reached with accessibility advocates, the MTA has committed, subject to extensions of time based on funding commitment caps and other contingencies, to procure contracts to make accessible 81 stations by 2025, another 85 stations by 2035, another 90 stations by 2045, and the last 90 stations by 2055.

The MTA has 472 subway stations and including 21 Staten Island Railway (SIR) stations, has 493 stations in the transit system. Of those, 131 are fully accessible to customers with disabilities, via elevators and ramps, including five Staten Island Railway stations. There are more than one million people with a disability living in New York City, more than 1.5 million over the age of 65, and approximately 250,000 children under the age of two whose families need to navigate New York City with strollers.

NYC Transit President Richard Davey said, “Millions of New Yorkers rely on accessible stations to get to their destination daily, and currently have to travel farther and for longer to get to an accessible station. It is our job to make this a thing of the past, providing as seamless a commute as possible for all riders by continuing to increase the number of accessible stations in the subway system.”

Brett Eisenberg, Executive Director of Bronx Independent Living Services said, “Today is a historic day for individuals with disabilities. Future generations will now be able to say that we have a fully accessible subway system. We will all be able to go anywhere in the five boroughs allowing us to participate in all New York City has to offer. BILS is grateful to all the other plaintiffs in the case as well as our attorneys at DRA and Sheppard Mullin. We thank the MTA for recognizing the importance of a fully accessible subway system.  We look forward to implementation of this agreement to make the subway system accessible as fast as possible.”

Christina Curry, Executive Director of Harlem Independent Living Center said, “The Harlem Independent Living Center is pleased and excited to be part of this historic achievement regarding the MTA and assisting in making the subway transit system accessible to the disabled community and to everyone in general.”

Jean Ryan of Disabled In Action New York said, “Disabled In Action has fought to eliminate barriers to full equality for people with disabilities for more than 50 years and is proud to do so here on behalf of all New Yorkers. All our members need elevators in the subways, and we need elevators in all stations. Elevators are for everyone.”

Maria Alvarez, Executive Director of StateWide said, “Transportation Accessibility is one of the most important issues for the community, NYC’s leaders and people with disabilities. Given the fact that the within 4 short years close to 25% of NYC’s population will 65 years of age and over, these improvements to the subways cannot come soon enough. We must continue striving toward an age-friendly New York City which will make it a city conducive to the comfort and ease for all.”

Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, who uses a wheelchair said, “This settlement builds on decades of disability rights work, by countless advocates, activists and allies. People like Rise and Resist Elevator Action Group, rallying at every hearing, from courthouse steps to MTA board meetings — you all made a difference. We’re grateful, humbled, and can’t wait to ride together.”

John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration across New York and Florida. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: or (631) 608-1346.

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Long Island Construction Law does not own this content. This content was created by Governor Kathy Hochul’s Office, and was published on June 22nd, 2022.