NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There are renewed calls for the Long Island Rail Road to make the largest commuter rail system in the nation fully accessible to disabled riders.
Many stations leave riders who use wheelchairs and walkers stranded, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
For example, it has been two years since CBS2 last reported about Raymond Harewood, a disabled veteran who rides his scooter miles to reach an LIRR station that has an elevator up to the platform.
In the past two years, the railroad has added elevators to a grand total of two more stations.
“This is a life and death situation,” said Harewood. “At any given time an elderly commuter can lose their footing, a mother holding a baby an a stroller has no way to hold a hand rail.
His pleas are echoed by lawmakers calling on the MTA to bring the LIRR into full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act passed nearly 30 years ago.
As of today, 15 percent of LIRR stations are still not wheelchair accessible, and 19 of 124 stations have no ramp or elevator to the platform.
Massapequa Park Mayor Jeffrey Pravato calls it a disgrace.
“We need all our stations ADA compliant and it has to start now,” he said. “Not next week, next year, not five years from now.”
An MTA spokesman says “every LIRR station must, and will, be accessible to all. We have been working tirelessly to meet this important goal.”
It recently launched Help Point that allows riders to alert the train crew of special needs.
The MTA is also asking the elevator industry to expedite elevator installation. LIRR is putting elevators at Nostand Avenue, Murray Hill and Floral Park.
A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo tells CBS2 the governor “100 percent” believes the MTA must make accessibility and infrastructure a priority, adding that’s why he earmarked $25 million for MTA capital improvements.