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Disabled need better transit service: Report

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A transit oversight committee says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is morally and legally obligated to do more toward making it easier for disabled straphangers to use buses, subways and commuter trains.

“While the accessibility improvements that have been made by the MTA and its operating agencies have opened the MTA’s buses, commuter railroads and subway systems to many who were previously unable to use them, there remain many barriers to using transit,” the Permanent Citizens’ Advisory Committee report said.

PCAC Chairman William Guild said “while much has been accomplished, more remains to be done and the MTA is legally and morally obligated to improve accessibility to all riders.”

Among leading complaints, the PCAC said, were non−operating escalators and elevators in subway stations, unintelligible announcements on subway trains and no announcements at all on many buses.

The report also mentioned motorists who park their cars in bus loading zones, thus keeping buses from drawing up to the curb.

Jan Wells, associate director of the PCAC, said “we would like to see maps in subway stations showing locations of elevators or escalators.”

Wells said broken escalators and elevators are at or near the top of complaints in the transit system and added that there are several escalators owned not by the MTA but by realty firms not always eager to repair them in a timely fashion.

As to bus announcements, Wells said a new type of bus that have the potential to run automatic announcements, similar to what is available on subways, is to go into service within a few months.

“These new buses will begin service without automatic announcements but can be converted with the necessary technology,” Wells said.

Adele Bender, Queens director of the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged, said broken elevators and escalators “top the list” of complaints but that directions on mass transit are of little use to people with poor eyesight unless well−lighted.

The PCAC also recommended improvements on in−station maps, signs and tactile way−finding strips as well as onboard announcements

The PCAC said the MTA has only two employees operating its Web site and recommended that more should be added.

Posted 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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