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Queens Chronicle

Astoria residents ask city for a lift

Calls, but no plans, for elevators at Ditmars and Hoyt subway stations

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 10:30 am

Residents are pushing for the installation of elevators at two Astoria train stations, Ditmars Boulevard and Hoyt Avenue.

Astoria resident Alp Gurpinar, who sustained a foot injury while carrying his daughter’s stroller up several flights of stairs at the train station on Ditmars Boulevard — something he has to do several times in the day — says an elevator would make the station more accessible and give people an alternative to the stairs.

“I’m lucky, I’m young, so I could carry my daughter’s stroller easily, but sometimes elderly people, pregnant people and disabled people can’t use the stairs,” he said. “It is ridiculous that in this century there’s no elevator here.”

Subway rider Eric Hoegemeyer also thinks an elevator should be installed at these stations.

“Everybody should be able to take transit, he said. “It is also difficult if you’re older and maybe don’t have family to help you get around.”

Another subway rider, Daniel Lee, said installing elevators in subways and elevated train stations would be helpful to those with limited abilities.

“We definitely need to improve access to public transportation for the differently-abled. Public transportation should be improved for all people,” said Lee, who is a member of Green Party City Council hopeful Lynne Serpe’s campaign.

Serpe’s Democratic opponent, Costa Constantinides, agreed on the need for elevators.

“This is long overdue,” Constantinides said. “Anyone in a wheelchair or with a disability is automatically put at a disadvantage. It’s unfair.”

New York City Transit has an agreement with the federal government to make 100 key train stations more accessible by 2020, an agency spokesperson said.

Train stations with a lot of traffic will be improved first.

“We want to be able to provide accessibility to the city’s busiest stations first,” the spokesman said. “That way we can provide accessible transport to the stations most of our customers use.”

The spokesman added that more than 80 stations in the city have been made accessible already.

Residents pressed for the elevators at Community Board 1’s September meeting.

Lucille Hartmann, the district manager of Community Board 1, said although the need for elevators at the stations has existed “forever” and the majority of the Astoria residents want them, getting it done could be difficult.

“It is a costly project,” she said. “Projects that cost millions of dollars, taxpayer dollars, don’t happen overnight. It’s not a matter of saying we want something and it’s done.”

Hartmann said that while the project is important, the community board would have to determine whether it would involve more than one agency and how it would be funded.

Renovation work is slated to begin at the Ditmars Boulevard station in the beginning of 2014 to repair stairs, the audio system and light fixtures — but no elevators.

There are no renovations slated for the Hoyt Avenue station, New York City Transit said.

Welcome to the discussion.