117 out of 472 subway stops are fully accessible. Images via The Guardian 

While waiting for the subway to come, you frequently hear announcements come on explaining that elevators at certain stations will be closed for months because of construction. All too often it happens and leaves us wondering, exactly how many stops in the New York City subway are wheelchair accessible?

The answer comes to us via The Guardian which recently published the article, Access denied: wheelchair metro maps versus everyone else’s with a series of maps revealing only the fully accessible stations in cities like London, Tokyo, and Paris. New York City is among one of those cities, where only 117 out of 472 subway stations are fully accessible.

All the fully accessible stations in New York. Image via the Guardian

Opened in 1904, the NYC subway was not built to be wheelchair friendly. After the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the 1990s, more effort was made to include elevators. The MTA has been trying to make “key stations” accessible as renovations across the system continue, with aims to increase the number of accessible stations from 117 to 144 by 2020.

Despite their efforts, the MTA has been slow to adjust. Travel for visitors and residents around the city is virtually inaccessible by subway. The Guardian spoke to wheelchair user John Morris, who runs the advice site Wheelchair Travel, “Even in the centre, in Manhattan, I advise people to avoid the subways at all costs,” he says. “A station may be accessible but the line you want might only be accessible from a platform which can only be reached by steps. The level of understanding one must have to navigate it is so high – and even someone who knows the system perfectly can be caught out by a broken elevator. It’s challenging.”

For now, unfortunately as with all other glaring subway issues, the fate of an improved subway future are in the hands of the MTA and Governor Cuomo.

Be sure to check out the Guardian article to see comparison maps from other major cities in the world.

Next, check out Fun Maps: “X-Ray” Maps Show What NYC Subway Stations Really Look Like and Fun Maps: How New Yorkers Feel About Subway Safety, Rat Control and 42 Other Urban Issues.

One thought on “(Not So) Fun Maps: How Many NYC Subway Stations Are Actually Wheelchair Accessible

  1. Not all ADA stations have all areas accessible. As an example take 168th Street in Manhattan. The 1 train is NOT accessible. While there are elevators to the 1 rain level, stairs are needed to access the downtown platform and on both sides of the overpass to the uptown platform where stairs are needed to get from the overpass to the platform. Another example is 34th Street Herald Square. where the ramps are too steep and are not ADA compliant. Also Canal Street 6/N/Q/R/W/6/J/Z is only accessible to and from the downtown 6 platform. http://www.mta.info has a full list of accessibility — elevators, and location of the elevators on the street.

    For some stations, a specific route must be taken to get to a specific area.Look for the ADA Symbol on overhead signs

    I am not a wheelchair user but I am a retired station Agent with NYCT. In my use of the system I always used elevators so if they were out of service I could call to request repairs.

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