Wheelchair Accident At Penn Station Plays on Fears….

I spoke with my sister during her lunch break yesterday. She knows how I love to follow anything transit related so she will always ask me if I had heard about any story she comes across. During our conversation, she asked if I had heard about the wheelchair accident at Penn Station. I told her I did not hear or read about it. She provided me with some quick details but my mind was elsewhere so I didn’t grasp what actually happened. I have read an article about it so now I understand what happened.

A 52 year old woman was struck by a train & seriously injured due to the back wheels of her wheelchair being stuck on the yellow platform edge at the 2 & 3 platform at Penn Station.  The incident took place on Sunday as she departed a #2 train. When she turned around to see why her wheelchair was stuck, she got hit in the head by one of the train cars pulling away. The force of the blow catapulted her out of wheelchair & straight into a platform column.

New York City Transit officials say they have heard similar accounts from many witnesses although they did say they have “heard other things” as well. Spokeswoman Deidre Parker said “We’re still investigating”.  While the investigation continues, the victim is listed  in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital with head injuries and fractures to her face and legs.

Disabled Riders Coalition executive director chimed in with some comments about the incident:

“The accident highlighted the fears of straphangers who need wheelchair. I myself on numerous occasions have been hit by a train and just knocked to the side a little bit. Sadly in her case it was much worse.”

This incident has reaffirmed why many disabled riders prefer taking buses. Mr. Harris’ comment states why that is the case; “Wheelchair-using commuters often prefer buses to subways, fearing their wheels may become caught in the gap between trains and platforms or that elevators will be out of service.”

Wheelchair accessibility has always been a huge issue when it came to the subways. Only 61 out of the system’s 468 stations are wheelchair accessible. The agency plans on making 100 key stations accessible by 2020 while also rehabbing more than that by the same deadline. In my opinion the MTA does not do enough for wheelchair commuters. While many have debated that ParaTransit is there for such commuters, anyone who has followed that organization realizes how unreliable they are. They make the MTA’s reliability look off the charts!

Considering the money the MTA wastes or wants to waste on unwarranted projects like platform doors, they could & should do more to improve service for people with disabilities. In my opinion all 468 stations should be wheelchair accessible as that would be the most fair solution. Why should only certain stops get the accessibility. Last time I checked, disability did not have a permanent address!

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