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Renovated Brooklyn Subway Station Lacks Accessibility For Many Riders

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After an almost two-year renovation, the Smith and 9th Street subway station in Brooklyn is open, though not necessarily accessible to everyone. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

At 88 feet above street level, the platform of the Smith and 9th Street subway station is the highest in the world.  

The Metropolitan Transit Authority recently gave the station a $32 million top-to-bottom makeover.

Some say, however, the station still needs a way to get every passenger from bottom to top.

"Whoever designed this, their elevator didn't go to the top," said State Senator Eric Adams.

The station's escalators, not all of which are even working, also do not extend to the top of the station.

Two long flights lead to a final steep stretch of 36 steps, with no alternative.  

"We have escalators that take you to a certain level, then once you get to that level, it's every man and every woman for themselves," said Adams. "They have to climb the stairs."

Adams, who is running unopposed for Brooklyn borough president, made the trek to the top of the station with Ruth Auerbach, an 89-year-old who is visiting from Israel and hoped to see a Broadway show.  

"It was challenging for me, so I can only imagine what it's like for a senior or a person with disabilities," Adams said.

"Once I tried it, but then the second time I didn't want to try it anymore," said Auerbach. "So, it's not helpless, I just stayed at home. I didn't see the shows. I missed it."

It is not just inside the station that issues arise - even the entrance is accessible only by stairs.

Residents say there was a ramp at the entrance before the renovation, but it is now gone.

"It's a bit disconcerting and very offensive that everybody can't have access to the train in New York City," said one resident.

"I have my stroller here, and I see moms with their babies struggling on the last bit and, I just wish, 'Well, they did the renovations, how come we don't have an escalator that goes all the way to the top, or an elevator?'" another resident said.

The answer, according to the MTA, is money.

An MTA spokesperson says making the station fully accessible is cost-prohibitive.

They say riders can take an MTA bus, all of which are accessible, to one of nearly a hundred accessible subways in the city.

Senator Adams wants the agency to provide free shuttle service to the Church Avenue stop and says he plans to speak to the members of the Senate Transportation Committee in Albany.

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