October 28, 2002
Following are the comments of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(MTA) and its affiliated agencies in response to the draft guidelines entitled
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and
Facilities; Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Guidelines; Public
Rights-of-Way that were published by the Architectural and Transportation
Barriers Compliance Board (the Board) on June 17, 2002.
MTA General Description
The MTA is a public-benefit corporation chartered by the New York State
legislature in 1965. The MTA coordinates the planning and general policy
direction of most of the public transportation serving the New York City
metropolitan region through its operating agencies. The MTA approves operating
and capital budgets and performance plans, carries out the financing of capital
programs, and monitors financial and operating activities. The agencies
themselves concentrate on serving the public by operating transportation
services and implementing capital construction projects.
The MTA operates its services through the following affiliated agencies:
• MTA New York City Transit (NYC Transit)
• MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
• MTA Long Island Bus (LIB)
• MTA Metro-North Railroad (MNR)
• MTA Bridges and Tunnels (B&T)
The MTA’s vast transportation network, North America's largest, serves a
population of 14.4 million people in a 5,000-square-mile area fanning out from
New York City through Long Island, southeastern New York State, and Connecticut.
Four out of 5 rush-hour commuters to New York’s central business district use
transit services, most of it operated by the MTA. MTA’s 7.6 million daily
passengers travel on America’s largest bus fleet and on more trains than all the
rest of the country’s subways and commuter railroads combined. More than 64,000
employees keep the system operating efficiently.
Following is specific information describing in more detail three of our
operating agencies: New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, and
Metro-North Railroad. This information is provided to supply an accurate context
within which to view our comments.
New York City Transit
New York City Transit provides 6.6 million paid rides on an average weekday.
When the subway opened in 1904, it launched an unprecedented era of growth and
prosperity for the newly unified New York City. Nearly 100 years later, the
city's reliance on its underground rapid transit system has not diminished. NYC
Transit keeps New York moving 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as its subways
speed through underground tunnels and elevated structures in the boroughs of
Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. In Staten Island, Transit's Staten
Island Railway links 22 communities. New York City Transit operates 6,247
railcars over 685 track miles with stops at 488 stations.
Motor-bus service on the streets of Manhattan began in 1907. Today, NYC
Transit's 4,465 buses run in all five boroughs, on 200 local and 36 express
routes. Its buses cover 1671 route miles. NYC Transit buses carry 740 million
Currently, as part of its plan to make 100 key subway stations fully accessible
to customers with disabilities by 2020, 33 key stations are ADA accessible and
19 more are under construction. 12 non-key stations also have elevator access.
All of NYC Transit’s buses and subway cars are accessible. In addition NYC
Transit’s Access-A-Ride paratransit system provides about 2 million trips per
year to customers who are unable to use scheduled train, subway or bus
transportation for part or all of their trip.
Long Island Rail Road
The LIRR provides about 297,000 paid rides on an average weekday. LIRR operates
1,042 rail cars over 594 track miles on 11 rail lines. It serves 124 stations
and has about 6,424 employees.
The LIRR is both the largest commuter railroad and the oldest railroad in
America operating under its original name. Chartered in 1834, it extends from
three major New York City terminals - Penn Station, Atlantic Avenue Terminal,
and Hunterspoint Avenue through a major transfer hub at Jamaica to the
easternmost tip of Long Island.
Traditionally serving a Manhattan-bound market, the LIRR has undertaken
extensive efforts to augment its reverse-commute and off-peak service to meet
the needs of businesses in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The railroad’s recently modernized fleet, which includes 134 new ADA-compliant
bilevel coaches, and its 20 fully-accessible stations have established a system
that is accessible to passengers with disabilities. As capital projects continue
additional accessible features are added to stations being modernized.
Metro-North Railroad, the second largest commuter railroad in the country, has
more than 252,000 passengers on an average weekday with a fleet of over 892 rail
cars and engines that operate on 6 rail lines spanning 775 track miles.
Metro-North’s service territory includes 119 stations located within nine
counties in the States of New York and Connecticut.
Metro-North has a proud history dating back to 1831when the New York and Harlem
Railroad was chartered. By 1851 the New York Central and New Haven Railroads had
also been established. Currently, Metro-North’s Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven
Lines provide service from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, a Beaux-Arts
Manhattan landmark. West of the Hudson River, Metro-North provides service along
the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines through a contract with New Jersey
Transit (NJT). Northbound trains depart from NJT's Hoboken terminal, only
minutes by PATH train or ferry from midtown or downtown Manhattan.
Metro-North is committed to working toward a barrier-free environment.
Metro-North has 33 fully accessible stations as well as 21 additional wheelchair
accessible stations throughout its territory. New accessibility features are
being added to stations as other renovation work is completed.
Most proposed changes included in the Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines can
be reasonably incorporated into the MTA’s future activities. However, some of
these changes apply less well to existing transportation facilities then they do
to public vehicular roadways and adjacent pedestrian pathways. Therefore, the
MTA suggests that the guidelines clarify whether they are meant to apply to
transportation facilities that are already included in Section 10 of the ADAAG.
If so, the guidelines should allow more flexibility as described herein in the
implementation of on-street parking, curb ramp landings, pedestrian overpasses
and the location of alternate circulation paths when warranted by existing
conditions. A discussion of each of theses suggestions follows.
Defined Terms -Section 1101.3
The definition of “Public Right-of-Way” requires clarification to indicate only
areas that are open to the public and to exclude transportation facilities
included in Section 10 of the ADAAG. As the definition is currently written this
term could be applied to facilities already subject to ADAAG Section 10 and to
non-public areas within those facilities dedicated solely to operational
purposes where the required modifications may interfere with railroad
On-Street Parking – Section 1102.14
This requirement seems to be intended primarily for city streets where multiple
facilities are served by on-street parking. Unfortunately, this requirement does
not apply well to railroad stations in suburban and rural areas. Many railroad
stations have commuter parking that is permit and/or metered along station
access roads or adjacent roadways. Since this parking is intended for railroad
customers, all accessible parking for these types of spaces is currently located
adjacent to the station entrance. The designation of on-street accessible spaces
far from the station would be extremely inconvenient for customers with
disabilities and in many cases, there is no accessible route between these
locations and the station.
As provided in other sections of ADAAG, this requirement should allow for the
consolidation of accessible spaces in a location that is convenient to the
facility served, either the facility parking lot or, when there is no parking
lot or it is further away from the station than the street or access road,
consolidated along the roadway near the facility.
Curb Ramp Landings – Sections 122.214.171.124 and 1126.96.36.199
This requirement serves to increase curb ramp landing requirement to 48 inches.
Given existing sidewalk widths and curb ramp slope requirements, this size
landing is not feasible in many situations. While the ADAAG does not require
compliance when technically infeasible, the new requirements should provide
direction for accommodating curb ramps with existing sidewalks (which are often
as narrow as 4-6 feet).
Pedestrian Overpasses and Underpasses – Sections 1105.5 and 1105.5.3
The guidelines should clarify what constitutes an overpass or underpass,
including the distinction between walkways on vehicular bridges as compared to
structures specifically intended to serve pedestrians.
This requirement should be modified to permit the current ADAAG requirement of
36 inches to be applied where it is not possible to achieve a 48 inch ramp
width. Further, the regulation should allow the use of either ramps or elevators
regardless of grade change. In some instances elevators are a more feasible
option given space limitations even if the rise is less than 60 inches.
Similarly, at stations with a rise in excess of 60 inches, elevators are not
always structurally or operationally feasible due to space limitations and the
configuration of the platforms. However, ramps to the overpass or underpass may
be feasible since they are narrower than a standard elevator shaft. Although
some ramps would be long, they may provide a means of access which otherwise
would not exist. In addition, there are locations where ramps will provide a
safer and more secure route due to a higher level of visibility.
Location of Alternate Circulation Paths – Section 1111.3
For instances where it is not feasible to provide an alternate route on the same
side of the street, this requirement should allow an alternate route across the
street if a pedestrian crossing complying with 1102.8 is provided.
The MTA recognizes the amount of effort that the Board has put into developing
the Rights-of-Way Guidelines. In general, transportation facilities included in
Section 10 of ADAAG should be excluded. If, however, they are to be applied to
those transportation facilities included in Section 10, the MTA suggests that
alternative requirements be included that will provide accessibility to
transportation passengers in those circumstances where compliance with the draft
guidelines is not possible.
Thank you for your attention to these comments. Should you have any questions,
please call me at [...]. I would be happy to discuss them with you.
Director of Policy and
Special Advisor on Safety and Environmental Issues
Metropolitan Transportation Authority