Photo: Bruce Poli. Caption: SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER, Arthur Schwartz and Michael Schweinsburg (President of the 504 Democratic Club) celebrate\approval of Federal funding for 14th Street subway elevators.

By Arthur Z. Schwartz

Back in 2018 the MTA announced that it was going to renovate all of the subway stations along the L Train line on 14th Street. But they were only going to add an elevator for disabled and elderly New Yorkers at the 3rd Avenue Stop. I filed suit on behalf of the civil rights group Disabled in Action, as well as a number of neighborhood block associations and the Victoria and Vermeer Co-ops asserting that the Americans With Disabilities Act was being violated. Almost immediately the MTA gave in, and we had a deal to build elevators at 6th Avenue and 14th Street, for the F and the L Trains, with work to begin by by December 2020.

COVID happened, and construction was delayed. In January 2021 I called the MTA General Counsel to complain, and got the MTA to agree to add more elevators to the deal, including ones at 7th Avenue and 14th, with a promised completion date of 2024. The deal was contingent on getting extra Federal funds. We reached out to Senator Chuck Schumer who immediately responded, and in March he announced the funding at a press conference on the corner of 14th and 6th.

The MTA has now released the plans and a timeline for a dramatic rebuild of the stations at 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue. As per those plans, the 14th Street/Sixth Avenue station will see six new elevators, two new stairs, and the refurbishment of other stairs as well as the platform and mezzanine areas servicing L and F/M lines. The 14th Street /Seventh Avenue station will see three new elevators, one new stairway, and refurbishment of other stairways, the platform and mezzanine areas servicing the 1, 2 and 3 lines.

These plans will make the subways at 14th Street so much more accessible not just to those with disabilities, but to all New Yorkers with ambulatory issues, including seniors.