Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Ride to Discrimination

I have to meet a friend in Manhattan today, which means I have to take the subway. My subway ride from Brooklyn to most points of interest in Manhattan ranges from a 1/2 hour to one hour trip. Objectively this doesn't sound too bad, but I am dreading it.

I have bitched and complained about the subway before in a previous post here. And in April 2009, I admitted that there are people in New York City, that help with mothers with strollers on the subway in this post. I understand that I talk a lot about the subway, but there are certain ethical principles about this mode of transportation that bother me.

In order for a mother traveling alone with her baby or toddler in a stroller to get from point A to point B on the subway, she will invariably need to ask a stranger for help. Unless she is lucky enough to be traveling to stations that each possess elevators.

Today, I am not so lucky. My home station has elevators, but my destination station, 33rd Street on the 6 train, does not.

When I took the subway the other day, I asked several strangers, all men, to help me with my heavy stroller. Each man I asked helped me, but the more I had to ask people I didn't know for help with my son (who I have known since he was conceived and is more precious to me than anything in the world) I became increasingly angrier.

For every person that is helpful during my subway ride there are hundreds of others that do not help. They are too busy with their own lives, rushing up and down the subway stairs to get to work, a doctor's appointment, or meet a friend, to stop and help little old me and my child make it to our destination.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have a sense of entitlement. I don't believe that people are supposed to help me and my child. But what am I to do if there is no stroller accessible option? Should I give up and stay home? Should I not even attempt to take the subway?

As a mother, I continue to have an unpleasant ride. By the time I arrive at my destination, I am pissed off and want to turn around and go back home to Brooklyn.

The MTA continues to raise their fares at random intervals, but what are we paying for exactly? I would like to see the money used for an elevator in every subway station.

The MTA's response to this would most likely be:

"We simply don't have the money to do that."

What I don't understand is: where is the MTA's money going? The fares are continually being raised, what is this money being used for? Why can't this money be used to build elevators in stations that lack them?

The lack of elevators does not only affect mothers, like myself. It also affects disabled individuals. When I was riding the subway the other day, I stepped off the car with a woman who walked with a cane.

The woman asked me where the elevator was in the station and I informed her. We got to talking and the woman told me that she was so exhausted from her subway ride that she could barely continue to walk. I attribute this lethargy to the fact that our subway system is not sufficiently handicapped accessible.

I want to say a few things to the MTA:

--Be mindful of who your passengers are: they are not all able to walk without assistance, which means they need an elevator to ensure a safe ride.
--Understand that mothers ride the subway, and that strollers cannot make it down the subway stairs. Consequently, we need elevators too.
--Use the fare increase money elevators!


  1. What do people in wheelchairs do? Isn't a law that all things need to be handicap accessible?

  2. The fact that the MTA's subway stations ALL do not have elevators violates the ADA (American's With Disabilities Act)!

    It's so messed up!

  3. YES! You posted that before! That's what I was going to say. Its so terrible!

  4. I said it because it's true! And I will continue to say it until the MTA does something about it!

  5. You are certainly airing an important problem faced by many people and all mothers with strollers. It is the kind of voice the MTA NEEDS TO HEAR. I agree It is awkward to have to ask people (men) to help maneuver a heavy stroller/toddler down a steep row of steps. Maybe there should at least be a campaign to all New Yorkers about the plight of mothers/stroller/child, encouraging all to try to help out. New Yorkers will often respond to needs when made aware of it.

  6. Absolutely mom! New Yorkers should be made aware of this ongoing issue. We need to fight against the injustices being dealt to the disabled in this city, as well as the inaccesibilty of the subway to parents!

  7. I think that there is some sort of bus service just for physically disabled people, but I know that they complain about it too.

    As for general access: I couldn't agree more. There are large areas of the city that my little one just doesn't get to go to because there are no elevators. I don't ever ask, I am just too embarrassed about it. So I carry him up and down and he is HEAVY, plus the bags, etc. Oh, and people rushing around, or making noises behind because I am slowing them down. I cannot tell you how much this issue grates on me. Why, also are there no elevators at stops like City Hall, or near the Central Park Zoo or the Natural History Museum?

  8. Dunky- They have "Accesiride" for disabled people, but it's also not the best. Still the MTA should provide elevators so that the disabled can ride the subway!

    I hear you, about not asking. I, too, could do without the hemming and hawing behind me to "hurry up!"

    People have no decency.

    And yes! Why aren't there elevators at the Museum of Natural History??!!

  9. Actually it's called Access-a-Ride. Pardon my poor grammar. Here's a link for anyone who is interested:


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