Let us all celebrate the 32nd anniversary for the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. This was signed into law by former President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The Federal Transit Administration has done an excellent job during this period when it comes to improving public transit to be in compliance with ADA. Billions of dollars in FTA grants to more than 900 transit agencies across America have paid for tens of thousands of buses, paratransit vans, light rail, subway cars, commuter rail and ferries that are ADA accessible. Numerous subway, light rail and commuter rail stations, bus and ferry terminals along with other transportation facilities, are accompanied in many cases with elevators and or ramps have also become ADA compliant.
Here are three ways the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the nation's largest transit agency, can obtain financial support to pay for bringing more NYC Transit subway, Staten Island Railway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad stations into compliance. NYC Transit subway has 126 of 472 stations, Staten Island Railway five of 21, Long Island Rail Road 108 of 124 and Metro-North Railroad 60 of 85 stations that are already in compliance with ADA. The MTA receives $1.5 billion in annual assistance from various Federal Transit Administration formula grant funding programs. Most of these funds are eligible to be programmed to pay for for ADA station or vehicle equipment purchases.
The United States Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration announced a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) on July 27, 2022. This is an opportunity for the MTA and other transit agencies around the nation to apply for a share of the $343 million under the new national competitive All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP). Funds can be used to pay for station rehabilitation work including elevators, ramps, along with visual or audible aids to assist riders in accessing the system. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30,2022. The program will total $1.75 billion over five years.
The MTA could also ask any major business, college or hospital who benefit from many of the 472 New York City Transit subway stations adjacent to their facility to sponsor installation of elevator(s). Let them split the cost 50 percent with the NYC Transit in exchange for naming rights to the elevator(s). This could stretch both federal and local MTA dollars to bring even more stations into compliance with ADA..
Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA Bus, New Jersey Transit along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ.