MTA Guide to Accessible Transit
MTA Subways and Buses
- The Reduced-Fare Program
- Fare Information
- Traveling on MTA Subways
- Traveling on MTA Buses
- Travel Training
- Accessible Station List
- Elevator and Escalator Outages
- Information in large print or Braille brochure, or on audiotape
If you have a qualifying disability (as listed on page 2 of Application for MTA Reduced-Fare MetroCard for People with Disabilities) or are 65 years of age or older, you are eligible for reduced-fare travel in the subways; MTA Staten Island Railway (SIR); and on MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus local buses at all times. You may also pay a reduced-fare on MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus express buses; MTA Long Island Rail Road, and the MTA Metro-North Railroad, anytime except weekday rush hours. You pay reduced fare on subways and buses when using a Reduced-Fare MetroCard, on subways by purchasing a Single Ride Ticket and receiving a return-trip coupon, and on buses by paying the reduced fare (half the regular fare) in cash.
To pay reduced fare with cash or to purchase a Single Ride Ticket you must present one of the following forms of identification:
- Reduced-Fare MetroCard
- Paratransit card (Access-A-Ride or Able-Ride)
- New York City Department for the Aging ID card
- MTA Reduced-Fare ID card (issued prior to 1995)
- Medicare card (Medicaid cards not accepted
You can save even more by taking advantage of MetroCard discounts when you use a Reduced-Fare MetroCard.
A Reduced-Fare MetroCard is a personalized MetroCard with your name and photograph. You must apply for, and be approved to receive it. You can ride at the reduced fare:
- in the subways, MTA Staten Island Railway (SIR), and on MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus local buses anytime.
- on MTA New York City Transit and MTA Bus express buses anytime except weekday rush hours : Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- on MTA Long Island Rail Road and the MTA Metro-North Railroad anytime except weekday rush hours to New York City terminals
Reduced-Fare EasyPay MetroCard is an option for purchasing your Reduced-Fare MetroCard through an account that allows you to pay with a major credit card or an electronic debit from your checking account, or by check or money order.
Get more information about Reduced-Fare MetroCard and the EasyPay program and download application on the Reduced-Fare MetroCard page.
You can apply for a Reduced-Fare MetroCard by mail or in person.
- Download, read and complete an application for People with Disabilities
- Enclose a 2" x 2 1/2" photograph.
- Enclose a photocopy of acceptable proof of age: Driver's License, Medicare Card or Birth Certificate (one must have a photograph of you), or proof of a qualifying disability and mail to:
Att: Reduced Fare Program
130 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201-9625
Call Customer Information at 511, which is a voice-recognition system, and say "MTA," then say "Subway and Buses" and follow the prompts. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. Get more information about the 511 system by clicking here.
Bring your application to a MetroCard Bus or Van, or our walk-in MetroCard Customer Service Center.
- Bring two valid IDs: Drive's License, Medicare Card, or Birth Certificate, one of which must have a photograph of you.
- Free photography services available
- Notary not necessary
MetroCard Bus or Van: Click here for a schedule.The Customer Service Center
3 Stone Street, in Lower Manhattan
Between Broadway and Broad Street
For information about fares and tolls for all MTA Services click here: http://www.mta.info/news/stories/?story=979
Interactive Voice Responsive System
If you are visually impaired, you can call 800-861-9614 toll-free and follow a menu to check the balance on your Reduced-Fare MetroCard, its expiration date, date of last transaction/use, and other information.
By enrolling in EasyPay you can save money. Click here for complete details: https://www.easypaymetrocard.com/vector/static/accounts/index.shtml
MetroCard Vending Machines (MVMs)
MetroCard Vending Machines are installed at all subway stations. The machines accept credit cards, ATM/debit cards, or cash. Customers with visual impairments may use an audio feature that will prompt them through the use of the machine. You must use your personal headset, such as those used with tape players, to access the feature. Braille instructions for the use of the feature are located at the base of the screen.
AutoGate is an automatic entry/exit gate that allows customers who have ambulatory disabilities, are accompanied by a service animal, or use wheelchairs to enter and exit the subway system. AutoGate units are available in many accessible subway stations in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.
A customer must have the specially encoded Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard to open AutoGates or conventional turnstiles. Customers with mobility impairments pay a reduced fare and receive the same free two-hour transfer as all MetroCard customers. MTA New York City Transit issues a special Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard to subway riders with qualifying disabilities.
Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard also works in all subway turnstiles. Use Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard where and when you use Reduced-Fare MetroCard To apply for a Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard, print and complete a Reduced-Fare MetroCard application. If you have a qualifying disability, you will receive a Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard, which has the words "AutoGate MetroCard" printed on the front.
You can also get an application by mail, phone, or in person by following the instructions under Applying for Reduced-Fare MetroCard
MTA New York City Transit also offers a Temporary Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard to customers who, due to mobility impairment are unable to use turnstiles without assistance, or who, because they need accompaniment by a service animal, are unable to use certain turnstiles. The Temporary Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard is valid for a period ranging from 90 days to a year, contingent upon completing the Reduced-Fare application and filing appropriate medical information from a doctor. Otherwise, the temporary card works the same as a Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard.
Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad Fare Information
Reduced-fare customers pay half the one-way peak fare at all times except during morning rush hours and may purchase tickets on board the train without paying the on-board fare (you will pay the same price as the one available at ticket windows and ticket machines). On LIRR, morning peak trains are those arriving weekdays at Penn Station, Flatbush Avenue (Atlantic Avenue Terminal), Hunterspoint Avenue, or Long Island City between 6 and 10 a.m. On MNR, morning peak trains are those arriving weekdays in Grand Central Terminal between 5 and 10 a.m. and those departing Grand Central Terminal weekdays between 5:30 and 9 a.m. Check timetables for morning peak service on West-of-Hudson trains.
New York City Transit subway and Staten Island Railway (SIR) currently have 97 ADA-accessible stations as of August 2012. Many ADA-accessible subway stations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn are equipped with AutoGate, an automatic entry/exit gate that allows customers who have ambulatory disabilities, are accompanied by a service animal, or use wheelchairs to enter and exit the subway system. AutoGate units are also located in some non-ADA-accessible subway stations for customers who are accompanied by service animals.
- To use the subway turnstile, swipe your Reduced-Fare MetroCard and your fare will be deducted when the word GO flashes on the turnstile screen.
- To use cash, show your identification to the station agent and ask for a free return trip ticket when you purchase a single ride ticket. The return trip ticket is good for 90 days from the date of issue. On your return, give your ticket to the station agent and you will be buzzed through the service entry gate.
- To enter through the service entry gate, ask the station agent to open the gate.
Using a Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard in the Subway
AutoGate is an automatic entry/exit gate that allow customers who have ambulatory disabilities, are accompanied by a service animal, or use wheelchairs to enter and exit the subway system. A customer must have the specially encoded Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard to open AutoGates or conventional turnstiles. Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard also works in all subway turnstiles. Use Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard where and when you use Reduced-Fare MetroCard
- To enter the subway through an AutoGate, hold your Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard so that the black stripe faces you and the cut-off corner is at the top of the card. Dip it into the slot in the special farebox. Your Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard will pop back up after AutoGate deducts the fare and the screen displays the word "GO." The AutoGate will open automatically.
- To exit the subway through an AutoGate, dip your Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard into the exit unit. The AutoGate will open automatically without deducting a fare after your Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard pops up and the screen displays the word "GO."
MTA New York City Transit also offers a Temporary Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard The temporary card works for a period ranging from 90 days to a year. Click on the link for more information.
To ensure that you have a safe, comfortable, and convenient ride, follow these guidelines:
- Wait for the train near the center of the platform, where the car with the conductor normally stops. The conductor will be able to see you more easily and keep the doors open while you board. There are boarding area signs at all accessible stations. This boarding area is specifically modified to accommodate the transfer of wheelchairs between train and platform.
- All fully accessible and renovated stations have two-foot-wide yellow tactile edge-warning strips. Make sure that you stay behind these strips until it is time to board the train.
- If you are in a wheelchair, position it about three feet from the edge of the platform and facing the tracks, with brakes locked. Never position your wheelchair between a station column and the platform edge. This creates an obstacle to passenger flow and is a safety hazard for you and the other passengers.
- At most stations there is a gap, about four inches wide and two inches high, between the platform edge and the subway car; on curved platforms the space can be wider. Please be extra careful when crossing these gaps. (The vertical gap on accessible subway station platforms is lower only near the center of the platform, near the conductor's position.)
- Once on board, position your wheelchair close to either end of the car and near but not blocking the doors. Remember to lock your brakes.
- If you miss your stop at an accessible station, stay on the train until you reach a station where you can transfer on the same platform to a train in the opposite direction and ride back to the station you missed. Ask the conductor or train operator if you need help.
Tactile Signage and Visual Displays
All fully accessible stations and newly renovated stations have tactile-Braille signage that is located on the left side of the station booth and on the platform columns nearest the stairs as well as on other columns throughout the station.
We work hard to keep elevators/escalators in good repair, but sometimes they are not operating.
Click here for the status of all MTA elevators and escalators.
Click here to find out how to get e-mail alerts about elevator/escalator changes sent to your computer or e-mail or text message alerts sent to your mobile phone.
You can also call 511, a voice recognition system that directs you to a menu or NYC Transit representative (or if you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay). For elevator/escalator status, just say "MTA," then say "Subway and Buses" and "current service status." Wait to be transferred and press "2." Click here to learn more about the 511 system.
Personal Care Attendants
Personal Care Attendants (people employed to assist individuals with disabilities) are eligible to ride MTA buses free when accompanying a person who is carrying a paratransit card that designates PCA assistance is required.
Customers with disabilities are permitted to bring their service animals into all MTA transit facilities. The animals must be securely leashed for the safety of all customers.
A service animal is defined as an animal (usually, but not always, a dog) trained to aid or guide and accompany a person with a mental or physical disability. Service animals are trained to work or perform specific tasks to aid or guide persons with disabilities, such as: guide blind people; alert hearing-impaired people to sounds; pull wheelchairs; pick up and carry objects; perform rescue work and recognize and avoid hazards.
Although the customer is not required to carry identification for their service animal, New York City Transit, through its Office of ADA Compliance, issues a service animal identification (ID) card that a customer may obtain and carry for their convenience. The customer may, on a voluntary basis, present this ID. to a Transit employee or a police officer. Here is an illustration of the front and back of the service animal identification card.
If you have a service animal and would like an ID card that you can present when you travel in the subways and on MTA buses, click here to download and print the Application for Service Animal Identification Card.
Service Changes and Emergencies
For information about service changes, particularly on weekends, look for a white board in the station booth or ask the booth agent. If your train is being rerouted from an accessible station, ask the station agent or a conductor to help you choose an alternate route. The conductor sits in the middle car of the subway. If you are hearing or speech impaired, you may obtain information from transit personnel using handwritten notes. If a mid-trip disruption in service makes it difficult or impossible for you to reach your destination, inform a conductor or station attendant. The MTA will make arrangements to get you to your destination or help you return home. Transit personnel will help you if an emergency requires evacuation. Please follow the instructions of these trained personnel and the police. Some emergencies require that stretchers be used to help customers in wheelchairs leave the train. When this happens, wheelchairs are removed separately and returned to the owners as soon as possible.
Nearly 6,000 New York City Transit buses in the MTA organization serve local and express routes throughout the five boroughs. Bee-Line buses operate in Westchester and NICE (Nassau Inter County Express) bus routes serve Long Island. Timetables for all bus routes are available in pdf format, or by calling 511, a voice recognition system, for NYC Transit or MTA Bus schedules. The 511 number can direct you to a menu or Transit representative. Just say MTA," then say "Subway and Buses" and follow the prompts. Learn more about the 511 system by clicking here. You can also pick up schedules at the NYC Transit MetroCard Service Center, 3 Stone Street, New York, NY, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. or at the Hempstead Transit Center, located between Jackson and Columbia Streets in Hempstead, weekdays, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Paying Your Bus Fare
To pay on a local bus using a Reduced-Fare MetroCard, dip the card in the fare box with the stripe facing you. To pay a reduced fare in cash, you need to have your identification and the exact fare ready. Buses accept coins only (no paper money, or pennies, please). If you use an assistive mobility device (e.g., a wheelchair, scooter, etc.) to board via the middle or rear door, the bus operator will give you a postage-paid, pre-addressed envelope; you can then pay your fare by mail. Some newer buses have a ramp in front to accommodate people who have a mobility challenge, which allows these customers to use the farebox. Please note that you can use a Reduced-Fare MetroCard to pay half-fare on express buses during non-rush hours on weekdays and all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Paratransit is available for those who cannot use other MTA transportation. See the paratransit listing for more information. The paratransit system in New York City is Access-A-Ride (AAR). Click here to go directly to the homepage.
Boarding, Riding, and Leaving the Bus
- Wait near the bus stop sign where the driver can see you and you can signal to the driver.
- Make sure you have the correct bus by checking the front destination sign, listening to the recorded announcements on some NYC Transit and MTA Bus vehicles, or asking the driver.
- The driver will position the bus to deploy the lift safely or operate the kneeling feature.
- Priority seating for customers with disabilities and senior citizens is located behind the driver. Other passengers must make these seats available upon request. Please remember that some passengers may have disabilities that are not visible.
- If you are in a wheelchair, position yourself near the rear doors, where the lift is located on most buses. The driver will activate the lift, allow you to board, and secure your wheelchair on the bus. For added safety, please back your wheelchair onto the lift and lock your brakes. Once you are in position on board the bus, lock your brakes again. All new buses have seat belts and shoulder harnesses for extra safety. (Lifts can accommodate customers with wheelchairs, scooters, or other devices with a combined weight of 600 pounds; the device and customer must fit into a space 30 inches wide and 48 inches long.)
- When you reach your destination, please wait until the bus comes to a stop before unlocking your brakes. The driver will free your wheelchair from its position on the bus and activate the lift to let you disembark.
- If you have a visual impairment, please listen closely for your stop when it is announced by a recording or by the driver, who will call out stops at major intersections. You can also ask the driver to notify you when your stop is next.
- Please alert the driver when you want to exit by pressing the strips located in the area surrounding the windows. If you miss your stop, tell the driver and he or she will drop you off at the next stop.
- With Request-A-Stop, you ask your bus operator to let you off at locations along the route that are not bus stops from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. If the operator can stop the bus safely at your requested stop, you will be let off the bus. Bus Operators will continue to make all regular stops. Please note that Request-A-Stop service is available on local bus routes, and on express routes (only when the bus is dropping off customers). Request-A-Stop service is not available on limited-stop bus service, Select Bus Service (SBS), the non-stop portion of express bus service, or shuttle bus service.
Personal Care Attendants
Personal Care Attendants (PCAs people employed to assist individuals with disabilities) are eligible to ride MTA buses free when accompanying a person who is carrying a paratransit card that designates PCA assistance is required. Service Animals Customers with disabilities are permitted to bring their service animals into all MTA transit facilities. The animals must be securely leashed for the safety of all customers.
Free Travel Training Available
Transit currently sponsors travel training for qualified paratransit AAR customers. Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CPofNYS) is conducting the training under contract with NYC Transit. Trainees master the following skills:
- Planning a trip: use of schedules, signs, telephone, information services, and landmarks.
- Remembering and following directions.
- Traveling safely at all times.
- Identifying the correct bus stop, bus, subway station, or subway.
- Coping with service disruptions, delays, and emergencies.
- Correctly using mobility aids, such as crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters.
- Requesting information/help from appropriate sources.
A training candidate should be motivated and medically stable, and should use the bus/subway often enough to maintain newly learned travel skills.
Training is well under way. There is limited space, so don't wait to apply! Call 212-947-5770, extension 627, and leave a message. A member of CPofNYS' travel training staff will contact you.
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