THE US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced it is making 15 grants totalling $US 686m in nine states to modernise older metro stations and improve accessibility.

The grants were announced on December 19 and are being funded under president Mr Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

This is the first round of funding under the new All Stations Accessibility Programme (ASAP), designed to improve the accessibility of metro stations. According to the FTA, the US has more than 900 railway stations dating from before 1990 that are not fully accessible at present.

The programme aims to make it easier for people with reduced mobility to access some of the country’s busiest and oldest metro systems through upgrades such as installing lifts. The FTA says projects have been selected for funding based on the criteria of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), in response to which FTA received funding requests totalling $US 905m. Due to the level of demand, the FTA says it is awarding competitive grant funding for both fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

The New York Subway's Myrtle Avenue station in Brooklyn, where these stairs are the main access, is another due to benefit from accessibility improvements under the ASAP initiative. Picture Jim Henderson/Wikipedia Commons

Projects selected to receive ASAP funding include:

  1. New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will receive $US 254m to make Myrtle Avenue, Norwood Avenue and Avenue I stations on the New York Subway in Brooklyn and the Burnside Avenue station in the Bronx fully accessible. The modernisation work will include installing lifts, updating platforms to reduce gaps, adding platform edge tactile warning strips, modifying ticket gate lines and improving stairs and handrails.

  2. Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will receive more than $US 118m to modernise its Irving Park, Belmont and Pulaski stations to make them fully accessible. All built more than 50 years ago, the stations will be modernised with lifts, ramp upgrades, improved signage and other enhancements.

  3. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Septa) is to receive $US 56m to make its 11th Street tation on the Market-Frankford Line and the Chinatown, Erie, Fairmount Upper Level, Fairmount Lower Level and Snyder stations on the Broad Street Line fully accessible. Modernisation work at the stations, which were all built in the early 20th century, will include installing lifts, upgrading platform ramps and making general improvements.

“Every day, millions of people rely on our public transit system to get to work, buy groceries, and see their loved ones - yet today, three decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, hundreds of transit stations are still inaccessible for travellers with disabilities,” says US transportation secretary, Mr Pete Buttigieg. “The ASAP is going to change that by adding wheelchair ramps, elevators, and more.”

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