Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Council Speaker Corey Johnson proposes more zoning permits for developers to build elevators for train stations


AM New York

Changes to the city's zoning rules could greatly expand the accessibility of the New York subway system at a fraction of the cost to the MTA, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson hopes.

In a new report, Johnson outlines still vague proposals to expand through zoning the number of areas where developers are permitted to bulk up the size of their projects in exchange for undertaking accessibility upgrades in nearby subway stations. Only a limited number of areas are currently zoned for that. 

The speaker also suggested speeding up the lengthy approval process for allowing such accessibility projects once the areas are rezoned.

“All New Yorkers deserve equal access to their city and we must do everything in our power to accelerate the implementation of ADA accessibility in the transit system,” said Johnson. “Zoning is a tool that the City has within our control and with stronger and more widely applied zoning tools, we can ensure that developers who build near subway stations coordinate with the MTA and help deliver the station improvements like elevators that we so desperately need."

The subway system is embarrassingly inaccessible to riders with disabilities, with just about a quarter of all 472 stations equipped with elevators. After what advocates say were decades of neglect and underinvestment, MTA Transit President Andy Byford last year joined the authority pledging to improve accessibility. The MTA’s proposed capital plan would make up to 70 stations ADA accessible — but at an average of $81 million per project, a figure that alarmed some and appears much higher than peer cities, according to researchers.


Anonymous said...

I'm ok with this. More housing and more accessible subways? A win-win.

TommyR said...

Not that there isn't an abundance of politicians looking foolish at parades, but that particular one seems irrelevant to the topic discussed. Also, the amNY link didn't work.

Subway accessibility would benefit from proposed zoning changes, speaker Johnson says

For good measure, here's the referenced report directly linked:

Increasing Accessibility

And here's the TL;DR of the article:

"The MTA’s proposed capital plan would make up to 70 stations ADA accessible — but at an average of $81 million per project, a figure that alarmed some and appears much higher than peer cities, according to researchers.

“I don’t doubt that elevators are expensive and complicated but this is outrageous even for the MTA,” said Jessica Murray, an advocate at Rise and Resist who supports the City Council’s push. Speaking at a recent MTA board meeting, Murray said those high costs would limit the number of projects the MTA could undertake, stalling a goal of fully accessible subways.

City lawmakers are now looking to leverage the private sector to achieve that aim. Under local laws, builders can make subway station access upgrades under two scenarios. They can be forced into a mandatory enhancement if a project site directly impacts an entrance to a station, or, in certain areas, they can choose to upgrade stations voluntarily through a bonus that allows them to bolster the size of their projects by up to 20% in exchange for bringing adjacent stations up to ADA standards.

That bonus is currently only available in several high-density districts in midtown, lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. In one district near the Court Square station in Long Island City, the zoning code codifies the arrangement.

Since its creation in 1982, only 11 projects have relied on the subway upgrade program, according to the Department of City Planning. Johnson's report posits that the lackluster response may be due to a drawn-out approval process for the projects — complete with an environmental review — that typically takes more than two years.

There are currently 53 subway elevators and another 41 escalators maintained by private third parties through the system."

So the CC gets devs to foot the bill, and they get to build a bit bigger in areas that they were going to build big on anyway. Fine by me.

JQ LLC said...


This is how I am going to cover the speaker has long as he's in politics. A recent clip of him, he actually sees a camera and does that leap. If it looks like it's homophobic because of the parade, that wasn't my intention, out of almost 10 I found that was the most ridiculous.

You think Van Bramer is a media whore? Cojo makes him look modest in comparison.

I am definitely for ADA compliant elevators, but I have a feeling this will be exploited in some way. And elevators and escalators under the auspices of private owners are notorious for breakdowns and elongated suspensions of service.

Anonymous said...

But that nabe ain't zoned for jumping, flying zombies