New York City MTA Introduces Courtesy Buttons for Passengers With Disabilities
New York City wants to help passengers with disabilities find a seat on public transportation. On Sunday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) began a pilot program designed to help people with disabilities, senior citizens and pregnant women get a seat on the city’s buses and trains. The program, which runs through Labor Day, provides those who request them with pins reading, “Please offer me a seat. Courtesy Counts.”
“Pregnant riders, seniors and those with disabilities often need seats more than others but their condition may not always be visible,” MTA interim executive director Ronnie Hakim said in a press release. “We hope this campaign will help their fellow riders to be more willing to offer them a seat without having to ask a personal question first.
Currently, passengers with disabilities have access to priority seating, seats which are designated for those who are unable to stand for the duration of their journey. However, these seats are often used by non-disabled passengers.
The program follows two recently filed class action lawsuits against the MTA, claiming New York City’s public transportation is inaccessible to people who use mobility devices and those with disabilities that make it difficult to use the stairs. According to the lawsuits, less than 25 percent of subway stations (112 out of 472) have elevators, making New York City’s subway station the least accessible in the United States.
“While we continue to designate ‘priority seating’ for riders with disabilities, this is another way to expand the availability of seating for those who need it most,” Hakim added. “The MTA is committed to promoting access to our system for people with disabilities. Over the coming years, this will involve spending billions to make more of our system ADA-accessible through the addition of elevators at stations and focusing on ways we can improve the availability of our existing elevators.”
The awareness buttons are similar to the ones introduced last August by London’s department of transportation as part of a pilot program. In April, London began offering the pins on a permanent basis. The MTA says its program is the first of its kind in the U.S.
Those interested in receiving a pin can easily apply on the MTA’s website. Pins are mailed out within two to three weeks.