Jaqi Cohen, Straphangers Campaign
by Benjamin Fang
Oct 10, 2018 | 325 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For more than four decades, the Straphangers Campaign, a project of the New York Public Interest Research Group, has fought for reliable, affordable and accessible transportation in New York City.

They are known for issuing report cards on the state of the subways, and for giving the “Pokey and Schleppie Awards” to the slowest and most unreliable buses.

But the campaign also advocates for state funding for public transportation, and pushes the MTA to become a more equitable system.

“The MTA itself needs to prioritize the right projects,” said campaign coordinator Jaqi Cohen. “I don’t think the MTA has a great track record, until more recently, in prioritizing accessibility in the subway system.”

Last week, 17 straphangers were stuck on an elevator for almost an hour at a Brooklyn Heights station. Cohen said while the situation was “extra heinous” because of how long it took to get the riders out, broken elevators isn’t a new occurrence.

“It’s important that the subway system have more elevators, but it’s also important that the existing elevators be properly maintained and functioning,” she said.

Out of the MTA’s 472 stations, less than a quarter of them have elevators or are ADA-accessible.

That means the elderly, New Yorkers with disabilities, and parents with strollers can’t get on the trains.

“It’s not just an infrastructure issue, it’s a civil rights issue,” Cohen said. “The fact that so many New Yorkers are being barred from taking our public transit system is something that needs to be changed.”

Cohen added that New York City Transit President Andy Byford’s new plan, Fast Forward, would install more elevators and tackles accessibility “aggressively.”

“But at the end of the day, it’s still a plan, it’s not funded,” she said. “Until we get that money, we’re going to see more problems like what happened here at Clark Street.”
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