Subway elevators serve us all—those with disabilities, parents with strollers, pregnant women, seniors, people with bad backs and knees, tourists, and anybody with luggage. Only about 25% of NYC’s 472 stations are accessible. A five-year lawsuit initiated by disability transportation activists against the MTA was settled in 2022, so there is now a legal commitment to make the NYC subway system 95% accessible by 2055. But Chelsea should not have to wait 30 years for an elevator. This issue doesn’t just need to be put on the radar—it belongs on our front burner!
Chelsea has a paucity of accessible subway stations, leaving residents in dire need of efficient transportation for medical issues, everyday needs, work, and leisure. Along 23rd Street, Hudson River to East River, are five subway locations (E, C, 1, F, M, R, W [N, Q restricted hours], 6), with the 6 (at 23rd St. & Park Ave. South) being the only one with elevator service.
Many in the nearby community are seniors, many not mobile, some requiring Access-A-Ride transportation. There are several senior centers in the area: Penn South; Hudson Guild; SAGE, and Stein Center. The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Books Library serves those with visual disabilities and is a hub for special events and services.
The transportation history of 23rd Street is shameful, with Selis Manor on West 23rd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.), a residence/facility for the visually impaired and disabled that also serves as a meeting place for organizations that serve people with disabilities. The subway station at 23rd/6th Avenue, because of its connection with the needs of the users of Selis Manor, has a greater chance of MTA approval than other Chelsea stations. But the 23rd St./8th Ave. station also has need for consideration and support.
Transportation is a human right, not to be impeded and denied to those with disabilities. We all would benefit from an elevator.
NOTE: Manhattan Community Board 4 meets on the matter of MTA elevators at 6;30pm on Wednesday, November 15, 2023. For more info on that meeting, click here.
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