For those of you who don’t know the MTA, it is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. They are responsible for managing the subway, the local and express buses, many of tunnels and bridges in New York, and the regional rail services in greater New York.
Nobody can deny that the MTA is working hard to improve the experience of the passengers who are using their services. However, this does not mean that we don’t express our concern about how the service is provided to the passengers in general and the blind passengers in particular. I think a lot of work is waiting for the MTA to ensure the safety and the convenience of the blind passengers. The MTA has its own special programs for the blind such as the Paratransit service and the reduced fair. It is true that the MTA is renovating stuff here and there. We appreciate the accessibility of the MTA website. We notice the introduction of some new trains using a clear sound system to speak the name of the stops. What about the trains that don’t have those sound systems yet?
It’s understandable that those issues take long and they usually cost a lot of money. Currently, a train conductor is responsible for announcing the different stops to the passengers. I will take A, B, C, and D trains as examples for this case. I am just wondering (are the conductors well-trained?) (Are they qualified for the job?) (Is there any kind of monitoring for their work?) (Does the MTA make sure that the speakers on those trains are really working?)
Unfortunately, most of the time the conductors either’ are mumbling so you don’t hear what they are saying, or they speak too loud to understand them. Of course for a blind person, this means missing stops, or taking wrong trains without knowing especially when 2 different trains come on the same track.
On the platforms, you hear the recorded announcement says something like this “the next train is now arriving on the express/local track” so which train? You never know. They casually announce which train is coming but it is not always the case. It is also sometimes done while the trains are arriving with their loud noise so nobody can hear what is being said. It is so stressful for a blind person to wait without knowing which train is arriving. Then, he / she has to get on the train to ask the passenger which is which; most of the time he / she doesn’t get an answer because people are not paying attention and some conductors don’t perform their job professionally, or because nobody announces on the platform. This is unsafe particularly when doors are closing, and it may delay the movement of the trains themselves. It is a critical issue for blind people who take such trains specially when it is night time and trains are already less frequent and everybody wants to go home before it really gets late and unsafe to travel. The MTA should assume the responsibility to ensure safety and convenience for all the passengers, particularly, the people with disability. I understand that things take time but when it comes to the safety of your citizens or residence, it is a different story. I myself can’t tolerate somebody who doesn’t want to perform his / her job efficiently.
In addition, when there is a service change, most of the time there is no sign to tell. Even if there is a sign, rarely somebody announces this change for a blind person to know. For example, when a d train, which is an express train, runs on the local track, or when a c train, which is local train, runs on the express track. It is a puzzle even for the sighted person to figure things out so what do you want a blind person to do!