The MTA is in hot water once again for its discrimination against people with disabilities.
According to The New York Times, a group of disability organizations and disabled NYC residents slapped the MTA with two state and federal class action lawsuits on Tuesday.
They claim that the transport agency violates both the city's human rights law and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
NYC's subway system is the least accessible system for people with disabilities in the entire country.
Out of the 472 subway stations in the this entire city, more than 75 percent have no elevators, lifts or other methods for wheelchair or disabled access. What's worse, of the 112 wheel-chair accessible stations, only 100 have working elevators.
The MTA begs to differ, saying 117 are wheelchair-accessible. They're just not working all the time because of "periodical maintenance." While the transport agency claims to be investing $1 billion+ to revamp the subway, it clearly hasn't been working fast enough.
According to the state lawsuit, people with disabilities still can't reach local landmarks, like Citi Field and the Museum of Natural History, in short trips. Even some of the country's oldest subway systems have accessibility. Boston's accessibility rate is at 74 percent while Philadelphia's is at 68 percent.
Many disabled people struggle with the outdated subway system. They have to plan out their long daily commutes to work and home around the accessible stations. This has negatively impacted many residents in their personal and work lives.
Plaintiff Christopher A. Pangilinan, a program director at a transportation foundation in Manhattan’s financial district, explains, “This is a city that truly I do feel disabled in. If everything was working 100 percent, and had elevators, my disability would be transparent. It wouldn’t limit me.
"But because of the lack of elevators, my disability really comes to the forefront in terms of what activities I can engage in, in the city. It’s tough psychologically to be reminded of that.”
Despite the issues, the lawsuits aren't demanding money to fix this whole mess. Disability Rights Advocates' litigation director Michelle A. Caiola says the group aims to negotiate better procedures for elevator maintenance and to plan long-term measures for accessibility.
This isn't Disability Rights Advocates' first run-in with big corporations' disability discrimination.
They're also in the middle of another fight with New York State and the conservancy that runs the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. The group claims some of the park's features aren't accessible to disabled people.
The group and other advocates for disabled people teamed up in 2013 to fight for wheelchair-accessible yellow cabs.