NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It started with a Facebook post complaining about dangerous gaps between the platform and the train at the Times Square shuttle.
After CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer started demanding answers, she discovered something quite unexpected.
Don was hit by a truck, had his Achilles tendon severed, and his left leg crushed. Getting himself over the gap is difficult.
He waits for the shuttle with more than a little bit of trepidation. The caps between the platform and the subway car terrify him.
“Usually somebody has to help me because I can’t step,” he said.
It’s not only people with disabilities or canes or walker. It’s mothers with strollers, tourists with luggage, the elderly, and every day commuters.
“It’s dangerous. I got to just watch my step, pick my bag up, and just be careful,” Ed Nelson said.
The gap has existed for a jaw dropping 100 years. The platform curves at odd angles because officials say it was first built as a tunnel, not a subway station, and even though there are plenty of warnings.
“The warnings, that doesn’t matter with the warnings, doesn’t mean anything too wide. Just yesterday I had to help a lady,” LaMart Applewhite said.
CBS2’s Kramer started investigating the gaps after a Facebook post lamenting the difficulty experienced by commuters.
The transit authority’s new president Andy Byford has made station accessibility a top priority. He’s developed a $275-million plan to fix the shuttle and say goodbye the gaps for good.
“It will take time to do,” he said. “They’ll get started at the end of the year. It will take until 2021, to actually rectify the gaps, because what we’re doing is straightening the platform.”
Byford rides the trains daily. He recently took the shuttle and feels the commuters’ pain.
“I stepped carefully,” he said.
When the project is complete, the MTA will be able to add more cars to the shuttle, going from four to six.
The transit authority president said he’s embarking on a $1-billion project to make 19 more stations accessible to people with disabilities. Currently 118 of the system’s 472 stations are fully accessible.