Letter to Legislative Leaders Regarding Disability Groups on transit funding, June 24, 2024

Access-A-Ride, Access-a-Ride Reform Group, Britt v. MTA, Disability Justice, Health Justice, MTA, News

June 24, 2024 

Disability groups on transit funding, June 24, 2024
Cc: Kimberly Hill Ridley

Hon. Kathy Hochul
Governor, State of New York
Executive Chambers
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224 

Dear Governor Hochul: 

We write to urge you to work with the legislature to immediately find reliable, progressive funding sources for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital  program so that accessibility projects and other vital programs can move forward  without delay. 

Any pause, even for a few months, is inexcusable. Any delay runs counter to the MTA’s  legal commitment to make the subways accessible. It would mean New Yorkers and  others with mobility disabilities will encounter yet another delay in our 45-year-long  campaign for access to the city’s vast transit network. 

Almost exactly two years ago, you announced the settlement of two civil rights lawsuits  that disability advocates had brought against the MTA, committing the authority to a  three-decade plan to make at least 95% of the city’s subway stations accessible. “No  New Yorker should have to worry about whether or not they can safely access public  transportation,” you said. “My administration will continue to ensure that New York  State is accessible to all.” 

Unfortunately, your decision earlier this month to halt the implementation of  congestion pricing, without at the same time guaranteeing other revenue sources for  the MTA’s capital program, is already causing delays in accessibility and other projects across the region.  

Many of our groups support congestion pricing, in part because of the promised  accessibility funding, and we urge you to reconsider your decision to “delay” its 

Disability groups on transit funding, June 24, 2024 

implementation. But if congestion pricing isn’t moving forward this June 30th, then it is  your obligation, with the legislature, to find and win approval of other funding sources  that will underwrite the MTA’s accessibility responsibilities starting that very same day. 

You have myriad choices for how to secure the necessary funds, but it is not our role to  suggest, promote and win approval for them. That is your job. 

We have been waiting far too long for the simple ability to get around on New York City  subways: Advocates first sued the MTA over the lack of accessibility in 1979. Eventually,  the MTA agreed to make 100 out of the current 472 stations accessible by 2020. Yet, at  

the same time, the authority rehabilitated stations throughout the system without  making them accessible, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Disability groups and individuals then sued the MTA in 2017 and 2019; these were the  lawsuits settled in 2022, although the MTA has yet to settle other lawsuits on subway elevator maintenance and other accessibility issues. Over the years, the MTA has  wasted untold millions of dollars in legal fees to unsuccessfully defend its choice to  discriminate against riders with disabilities, money that could have been better spent on  accessibility. 

Accessibility delayed is access denied. For most of the last four-and-a-half decades, the  state and the MTA have shown a complete disregard, and even contempt, for riders  with disabilities. We are the only taxpayers who have been repeatedly blocked from  entering the subway, treated like second-class citizens, and relegated to inferior transit  options. Prolonged battles now over funding will only further delay what should  have been in place decades ago. Safe, reliable transportation is a human right. Every  second counts. You must take action now. 

Yours truly, 

Joseph G. Rappaport
Brooklyn Center for Independence of the  Disabled 

Manuel Perez
Bronx Independent Living Services

Sharon McLennon Wier, Ph.D., MSEd., CRC,  LMHC
Center for Independence of the Disabled,  New York

Susan R. McCormack
Long Island Center for Independent Living,  Inc.

Christopher Schuyler
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

Rasheta Bunting
One Heart One Vision

Jean Ryan
Disabled In Action of Metropolitan NY

Gina Barbara, Brandon Heinrich, Michael  Ring, Anne-Elizabeth Straub, & Marilyn  Tucci
Downstate New York ADAPT

Jennifer Van Dyck
Elevator Action Group (Rise and Resist)

Terance B Page
Greater New York Council of the Blind a  Chapter of the American Council of the  Blind of New York State

Yasmin Campbell
Harlem Independent Living Center

Loreen Loonie
Independence Care System

Joseph M. Delgado
Self Initiated Living Options, Inc. (SILO)

Carla Brodsky
Staten Island Center for Independent Living

Steve Lieberman
United Spinal Association

Maria Samuels
Westchester Disabled on the Move, Inc.

Margaret Nunziatoi
Westchester Independent Living Center

Respond to Joseph G. Rappaport, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, 25  Elm Place, 5th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 or [email protected]

Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled · Bronx Independent Living Services · Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY · Disabled In Action of Metropolitan NY · Downstate New York ADAPT · Elevator Action Group (Rise and Resist) · Greater New  York Council of the Blind · Independence Care System · Harlem Independent Living  Center · Long Island Center for Independent Living, Inc. · New York Lawyers for the  Public Interest · One Heart One Vision · Self Initiated Living Options, Inc. (SILO) · Staten  Island Center for Independent Living · United Spinal Association · Westchester Disabled  on the Move, Inc. · Westchester Independent Living Center 


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