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Move it: A new commissioner should help give the MTA a sense of urgency on improving service for people in wheelchairs

The New York Daily News - 2/18/2020

Although run by the MTA under gubernatorial control, the subways are city-owned and the mayor matters. So Gov. Cuomo and the state Senate must quickly ratify Mayor de Blasio’s two board nominees, Department of Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cort\u00e9s-V\u00e1zquez and Victor Calise, the commissioner of the mayor’s office for people with disabilities.

Calise in particular brings desperately needed focus to improving service for New Yorkers with disabilities. He is not only a policy wonk on such matters; he himself uses a wheelchair, and will strive to correct the many ways America’s largest public transit system in America fails people with mobility challenges.

While every local and express bus is wheelchair-accessible, the Access-A-Ride service is atrocious, costing way too much and routinely failing passengers.

Of 472 subway stations, only 110 have both directions accessible; another nine have platforms accessible in one direction. The remaining 353, have got zippo, although there are promises to retrofit dozens.

Then there is the little issue of elevators that don’t work and the even more maddening problem of the TA being unable to accurately let riders know which are running or not, all of it subject to ongoing federal and state lawsuits.

There have been bright spots, like TA accessibility chief Alex Elegudin, who needs more clout within the bumbling bureaucracy. But there is also backsliding, like the pending reduction of an excellent pilot program to deliver on-demand, non-stop trips to 1,200 Access-A-Ride users, less than 1% of the total.

The pilot worked. Don’t cap it. Expand it.

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