On the subway train to Brooklyn yesterday, an MTA ad caught my eye: “At age 80, who doesn’t need a facelift?” It went on, “The Smith-9th St station turned 80 this year. It was only fitting to make it look young again. Stop by to see the new or refurbished escalators, stairs, platform, lighting, PA systems and artwork.”
I did a quick search on Google to check if I was the only person offended by the ad. I found that a petition had been launched. So far, it has 236 supporters. For a city like NYC, 236 people is… not a lot. The text of the petition quotes Gloria Steinem, a feminist icon in the U.S. who recently celebrated a birthday herself: “I’m eighty, and I don’t want a facelift for myself or the subways — how about more-than-cosmetic improvements and a sharper copywriter?”
I couldn’t help but notice that elevators are not on the list of new or refurbished features of the station. Having read something about the inaccessibility of the station a few months ago, I would expect to see them there.
The station has been closed for the two-year renovation project, estimated at about $32 million. Not only was the station not retrofitted with elevators, but an extra set of stairs to enter the building was added.
Smith-9th Street station remains inaccessible to many disabled people and now it’s been made harder to access for a greater number of people, including the growing older population.
Today marks the 110th anniversary of the NYC subway system. Instead of wishing happy birthday, I would like to offer the MTA some advice.
At age 110, you could absolutely use a lift. Or many. And I mean that in the British sense of the word.