Citywide Zoning Change Allows the MTA to Leverage Planned Private Development to Make More Subway Stations Accessible
In One Year, MTA Secured Developer Agreements to Install Elevators at Two Stations and Reserved Space for Future ADA Projects at Two Additional Stations
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today released a report detailing the accomplishments from the first year of “Elevate Transit: Zoning for Accessibility,” a citywide zoning change enabling the MTA to leverage planned private development to achieve a fully accessible transit system faster while saving taxpayer dollars.
Zoning for Accessibility (ZFA) creates incentives for private developers to design their buildings to incorporate future station accessibility projects or build the improvements themselves at nearby MTA stations in exchange for a zoning bonus. By helping the MTA achieve systemwide accessibility more efficiently, ZFA will benefit all New Yorkers, particularly riders with mobility disabilities, seniors, parents of young children, and others who need accessible stations to use the system.
“In just a single year, Zoning for Accessibility has already accelerated ADA upgrades at four stations – on top of the 70 stations being transformed as part of the current MTA Capital Program,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “The improvements coming to Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan through ZFA demonstrate how the MTA is using every possible strategy to make the entire subway system fully accessible.”
“Riders with disabilities, customers with children in strollers, visitors with luggage and many others will benefit from this partnership between the city, the MTA and the private sector,” said MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo. “Seeing four ZFA projects across three boroughs advance in a single year speaks to the importance and potential of this program, and we are excited to see the progress continue.”
“Zoning for Accessibility is exactly the sort of innovative approach the MTA needs to deliver accessibility projects better, faster, and cheaper,” said MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer. “The MTA is working with partners in the City and the private sector to get more done together and the results are starting to show.”
“Congratulations on the one-year anniversary of the passing of Zoning for Accessibility,” said the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Christina Curry. “The continued efforts for access and independence not just for the disability community but New York as a whole should be commended”.
“The subway system is fundamental to our city’s success, and this program is wisely tying development opportunities to key transit improvements,” said New York City Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick. “We recently approved the first project under this program outside of Manhattan and look forward to many more.”
“We were thrilled to work with the MTA to make the Queensboro Plaza station more accessible and add much-needed housing, including 126 affordable units, to the New York market,” said Grubb Properties Senior Vice President Lauren Cahill. “This partnership proves that we can solve problems and improve communities when we work together.”
Since Zoning for Accessibility was adopted by the New York City Council in October 2021, the MTA has secured easements on three private properties in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens reserved for future transit improvements that will help make the adjacent stations accessible. The agency has also partnered with private developers to secure commitments to build elevators at two stations, making them ADA accessible at no cost to the MTA or taxpayers. The ZFA bonuses and easements include:
In Manhattan, the 57 St station will be made fully accessible with street and platform elevators by the developers of 42 W 57 Street in exchange for a ZFA bonus.
In Queens, the MTA secured an easement at 25-01 Queens Plaza North where the owners will be building a new entrance with an elevator and stairs to the Queensboro Plaza station in exchange for a ZFA bonus.
In Brooklyn, the MTA secured an easement at 204 4 Avenue for a future elevator and stairway connecting the street to the southbound platform of the Union St station.
In Manhattan, the MTA secured an easement at 665 5 Avenue for a future elevator connecting the street to the northbound and southbound platform of the 5 Av – 53 St station.