Aug. 14, 2019 By Ryanne Salzano
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is calling on the MTA to make all its LIRR stations in Queens and Brooklyn handicap accessible and make a number of station upgrades.
Stringer penned a letter to LIRR President Phillip Eng Aug. 7 and noted that 18 of the 22 stations in Queens do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and asked what the LIRR planned to do to rectify it. Two of the three LIRR stations in Brooklyn also don’t comply.
Stringer said that only five stations in Queens and Brooklyn stations satisfy all ADA requirements. His letter requested a timeline of ADA accessibility upgrades for these stations.
The letter also requested a concrete road map regarding station rehabilitation plans at Hunters Point Avenue and Hollis, and the agency’s plans to construct new stations in Elmhurst and Sunnyside.
Stringer also wanted to know the agency’s plan to install elevators at Murray Hill, St. Albans and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.
The plan to improve the Hunters Point Avenue Station was initially part of the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital budget but was later removed, according to the comptroller’s letter. Funding for the new Sunnyside station—totaling $76.5 million– was also removed from the capital budget.
The proposed Sunnyside station at Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue would be a transportation hub. It would connect the LIRR to Amtrak and NJ Transit, which also use the yard.
“Maintaining and providing equitable access to our public transit system is critical to building a city that works for every New Yorker,” Stringer said in a statement. “The LIRR stations in Queens and Brooklyn should be providing fast, frequent, reliable, and affordable transit to hundreds of thousands of New York City residents living beyond the subway’s reach.”
The MTA released a statement in response to the comptroller’s letter. “The Long Island Rail Road is committed to improving accessibility and station conditions not just in Brooklyn and Queens but throughout the entire system.
“Details about the next capital program for the maintenance, repair and upgrade of LIRR infrastructure will be available in the coming months and the current historic reorganization of the MTA and its agencies will focus resources on customer-facing improvements more than ever before.”
The MTA disagreed with some of the comptroller’s findings. The agency said that 12 out of its 22 LIRR stations in Queens are ADA compliant. The MTA said it created an ADA Taskforce where representatives from the LIRR, advocacy groups, and government officials meet quarterly to strategize how they can improve the customer experience for those with accessibility needs.
The MTA also said it that had recently repaired stairways at the Hunters Point Avenue station and that there is a comprehensive improvement plan in the works, which would include making it ADA accessible and adding safety features such as tactile warning strips, bright LED lighting and CCTV security cameras.
The MTA did not provide an updated timeline or provide plans as to the Sunnyside project.
It did note that new elevators are currently being installed at Murray Hill Station. Once complete, there will be 13 ADA accessible stations in Queens, the MTA noted.
The comptroller’s letter comes about nine months after he announced a plan to integrate Metro-North and LIRR fares with the subway.
Stringer says the fare prices are too high under the current structure, noting that a one-way ticket on the LIRR from Flushing to Penn Station costs $10.75 during peak hours.
Stringer has called to lower that to $2.75, the price of a MetroCard swipe.