New York City has one of the most comprehensive public transportation systems in the United States. When many Americans travel to New York for the first time, they are struck by how far-reaching the subway system is. That is unless you have a mobility impairment. Then navigating the subway system becomes a time consuming, frustrating, and discouraging experience. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) encompasses 425 stations, but of those, only 92 stations are wheelchair accessible- that’s less than 22 percent. You may look at that percentage and think, “That’s not so bad. It could be worse.” Unfortunately, for the approximately 60,000 wheelchair users in New York City, it does get worse.
On a daily average 25 elevators break down and announcements and real-time updates are infrequent and unreliable. This lack of infrastructure and communication leaves wheelchair users and thousands of other riders with varying levels of mobility impairment stranded or forced to search for alternative (and sometimes more costly) modes of transportation.
New Yorkers are resilient. None more so than the 60,000 plus New Yorkers who tenaciously navigate a transit system that fails to accommodate their needs. Our team believes that a key feature of urban resilience should be accessibility. For our project, we are examining the reality of New York’s transportation system for people with mobility impairments. Citizens with disabilities deserve equal accommodation within a city’s infrastructure. Even within the larger context of climate change, mobilit and public safety are intertwined. Mobility impaired citizens should have every opportunity to navigate the city to safety in the event of an emergency including natural disasters.
We propose to create a map visualizing the status of MTA elevators in accessible stations as well as transportation alternatives. Our goal is to provide riders with a comprehensive tool to assist navigation on public transit as well as demonstrate the unreliability of the current system to inspire change. We are collecting data from MTA API on elevator outages, MTA bus routes, and MTA accessible stations. The end product will be an interactive map that identifies the obstacles standing in the way of a more accessible New York and provides solutions.
Due to technical constraints we rendered the accessible subway system map separately from the bus line map. Our data sets are available at the bottom of this post.
MTA Accessible Subway Stations
Interact with the map below to see which stations are accessible.
MTA Bus Lines and Stops w/ Subway Lines
This map is meant to be a supplementary layer to the accessible stations map. If overlaid, the experience would allow the user to find alternate routes should they find that their station's elevator is out of service.