Respect Accessibility

95 percent of New York subway stations to be accessible by 2055, officials say

“It’s important for us to recognize that accessibility means everything.”
The Associated Press/Frank Franklin II

Story at a glance


  • MTA officials on Wednesday announced plans to upgrade aging stations with elevators and ramps to enable those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to ride the nation’s largest subway system.

  • The goal is to make 95 percent of subway stations accessible by 2055.

  • The agreement comes after a years-long legal push by advocates for the transit provider to update the system. 

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is committing to making 95 percent of its subway stations accessible to people with disabilities in the coming decades as part of a settlement of class-action lawsuits brought on by disability advocates. 

MTA officials announced plans Wednesday to upgrade aging stations with elevators and ramps to enable those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to ride the nation’s largest and most used subway system. The goal is to make 95 percent of subway stations accessible by 2055. 

MTA says that in addition to 81 stations currently set for accessibility upgrades through 2024, 85 more stations will be made accessible by 2035, another 90 by 2045, and the final 90 by 2055. The project is funded by the agency’s Capital Program. 


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Currently, just 25 percent of the city’s 472 stations have elevators or ramps that make them fully accessible to people in wheelchairs. The agreement would make the city’s subway system accessible to more than half a million people with disabilities who are unable to use stairs to get to the subway. 

The agreement comes after a years-long legal push by advocates for the transit provider to update the system. 

“This is huge. There is no other public agency in the country that has ever made the commitment of a scale that we’re making in terms of dollars or number of stations. And to our incredible disability advocates who’ve been fighting for this passionately and for so long, you are going to have a voice in this process” Janno Lieber, MTA chairman and CEO, said during a news conference alongside accessibility advocates Wednesday. 

“Oftentimes you have been our critics, but in this case you have been our conscience and now you are our partners,” Lieber said. 

Under the agreement, the MTA is committing more than 14 percent of each of its five-year Capital Plan budgets to station accessibility.

Advocates applauded the partnership, emphasizing that New Yorkers with disabilities have been shut out of the subway system for far too long. 

“It’s important for us to recognize that accessibility means everything,” Jean Ryan, executive director of nonprofit Disabled In Action, said.

“Having access to a subway system that can allow people to travel, to see friends, to date, to enjoy theater, to educate themselves, is important for all individuals. People with disabilities should not be segregated.”