Access Denied

Improving subway accessibility for all New Yorkers

Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers require elevators to access the subway every day: people with disabilities, parents pushing strollers, travelers carrying luggage, and residents suffering from an injury. But New York City's subway system is the most inaccessible in the country, with elevators at only a quarter of the stations. Our Access Denied campaign launched in 2017, and was successful at securing unprecedented accessibility commitments from the MTA under the leadership of Andy Byford.

Currently the campaign is working with partner organizations to ensure that the MTA follows through on its commitment to build elevators at 50 stations in the next five years, and take the necessary steps towards creating a fully accessible system by 2034.

Campaign highlights thus far include: 

  • Have made accessibility an extremely salient issue in the media, and for the MTA, the public, and elected officials.
  • Won an unprecedented commitment for systemwide accessibility from NYC Transit by 2034, and a NYC Transit senior accessibility advisor.
  • Helped to make transit accessibility an issue in the 2018 Gubernatorial race.
  • Our advocacy led a raise in the starting wage for elevator maintainers to retain talent needed for repairs. We saw 24 hour elevator availability finally surpass the MTA’s 96.5% goal.
  • Our Access Denied report recommendations helped to influence the settlement negotiations for 2 major accessibility lawsuits against the MTA and legislation currently pending in the NYS Assembly.
  • We called out private developers for their lack of station elevator maintenance. NYC Transit is now working with the parties responsible for third-party elevators to improve monitoring of performance and to expedite repairs.
  • We helped to make accessibility a key factor in the political support for passage of congestion pricing.
  • We have helped to organize a committed cohort of advocates around the issue of transit accessibility and have brought prominent transit advocates to the cause.
  • TransitCenter led advocacy against the Enhanced Station Initiative program, which included $1 billion for station enhancements but no newly-accessible stations. Ensured there will be another accessible station in the Bronx from the program’s ashes.

Campaign Videos
Access Denied: Christine
Access Denied: Dustin Jones
Access Denied: Beth Childs
Aging in Place in NYC: AARP + TransitCenter
Access Provided
TransitCenter Goes to the Panorama
Campaign Reports
#AccessDenied on the Blog