The American With Disabilities Act (ADA), which was passed in 1990, will be implemented more strictly following the ruling of a federal judge last March 6, 2019. Bronx Independent Living Service sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in 2016 for their failure to make the Middletown Road subway station accessible to people with disabilities. The transportation authority did not install any elevators when the station was renovated back in 2013. The federal judge ruled that the failure of MTA to install elevators in the elevated subway station violates the ADA.
The station is currently accessible via two stairs – one from the mezzanine and one from the street. However, both ways are inaccessible for the transportation of people with disabilities, especially those in wheelchairs. Public accessibility advocates blame MTA’s poor maintenance and poor planning of accessibility systems in their projects.
The impact of the judge’s ruling does not end with this case. This is a victory for people with disabilities because it will definitely result in the stricter implementation of the act. Certainly, the MTA will now be more cautious in abiding by the ADA on its ongoing projects and futures ones.
This is empowering for people with disabilities because it shows recognition and genuine respect for their rights. This signifies the firm protection of their rights as humans.
Although this is a great win for people with disabilities and their advocates, there is still much to be improved. The problem of public accessibility in the city’s subway system is far from being resolved. Only 25% of the stations in the city are considered to be accessible which is very low compared to 74% in Boston and 100% in Washington, D.C. stations.
However, we still consider this to be a huge leap towards improving the accessibility of transportation for people with disabilities. It is a small step towards a future with full public accessibility.