Second Ave. subway accessibility issues

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MTA: elevator and escalator performance at Second Avenue stations “unsatisfactory for new systems”


  • The MTA will review elevator and escalator systems at stations on the Second Avenue subway due to questionable performance that one official characterized as “not where you want it to be for a system that's that new.” Photo: Steven Strasser

  • One MTA officer said last week that the performance of the Second Avenue subway's elevators and escalators "is sort of borderline to our standard.”Photo: Steven Strasser

After one year in operation, the Second Avenue subway is nearing ridership forecasts and easing pressure on the nearby Lexington Avenue line, but the stations' new escalators and elevators are failing to meet expectations.

Performance of the escalators and elevators in the Second Avenue subway is “unsatisfactory for new systems,” Janno Lieber, chief development officer with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said last week at a meeting of the MTA Board's transit committee.

“Their performance is sort of borderline to our standard,” Lieber said. The MTA applies the same performance standards for elevator and escalator to systems of all ages, including recently installed systems like those at the Second Avenue subway stations.

“I actually have directed the team to engage a consultant to review not just the caliber of the system but the installation process,” Lieber said, adding that the review would examine “if there was anything that went wrong in how they were installed or that we can learn from going forward, because clearly it's not where you want it to be for a system that's that new.”

The Second Avenue subway now serves an average of 190,000 riders each weekday, Lieber said, just shy of the 200,000 daily riders projected by MTA officials before the line was built. Lieber added that MTA data indicates the Second Avenue subway has helped reduce ridership at frequently overcrowded Upper East Side stops on the nearby Lexington Avenue line “in excess of 40 percent.”

Lieber did not share detailed performance data for the elevators and escalators at the Second Avenue stations. At press time the MTA had not responded to a request for comment.

The Second Avenue subway, which opened on January 1, 2017, features three new stations on Second Avenue at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets and an expanded station at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue, all of which are fully accessible to disabled riders when elevators and escalators are operational. Roughly three-quarters of the city's subway stations are noncompliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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