Transit Advocates Announce Lawsuit Against MTA

Transit Advocates Announce Lawsuit Against MTA

Transit Advocates Announce Lawsuit Against MTA

Transportation accessibility advocates have used public forums and rallies to protest t he Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) wide-ranging service cuts. Now they are taking legal action.

Activists stood outside Brooklyn Borough Hall August 17 to announce that they are suing the MTA and its New York City Transit (NYCT) division for cutting and restructuring 33 Brooklyn bus routes, including the elimination of the B39 and B51 routes.

The cuts took effect June 27 and include changes to subways and Access-A-Ride, which has implemented a reduced trip length for riders who are deemed able to walk from a subway or bus station to their destination.

The plaintiffs in the case are RueZalia Watkins (pictured), Anthony Trocchia and Clara Reiss – who are unable to use subways due to mobility impairments – as well as Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York (DIA) and the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled.

“Everyone in New York has to have access – not access by appointment,” Watkins said, referring to Access-A-Ride, which requires advance reservations to use. “As long as we sit and stay in our homes and we don’t stand up, they will continue to make cuts,” she said about the protest.

The lawsuit charges that the service reductions violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state law by denying people with disabilities the right to accessible transportation. The plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction requiring the MTA to immediately restore lost service to buses, subways and Access-A-Ride.

They are represented by South Brooklyn Legal Services (SBLS), the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) and the law firm Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff and Abady.

Jane Stevens of NYLAG said she hopes the current lawsuit, like the one that activists filed against the MTA in the 1980s to establish the first accessible buses, will “awaken them to their obligation to provide accessible transportation.”

Pavita Krishnaswamy of SBLS said, “The service cuts…are impermissibly depriving mobility impaired New Yorkers of the opportunity to participate fully in the rich economic, educational, recreational and cultural activities available to the rest of New York.”

 Assemblymember Joan Millman, City Councilmember Letitia James and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also attended the press conference, with Jean Ryan and Marvin Wasserman of Disabled in Action.

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