Inaccessible subway platforms make tough trips for New Yorkers with disabilities

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NEW YORK -

Commuters from all corners of the city have their struggles getting to and from work, but it's a whole different headache for those who cannot even reach their local subway platforms due to disabilities.

Dustin Jones say his commute is about an hour and 10 minutes in total from Mott Haven to Union Square. That's almost double what it should be because he is forced to take the Hunts Point subway stop instead of closer options because he is unable to use them.

Jones' life over the past few years has been about adapting to a different New York experience as a person with disabilities.

"I've been in a wheelchair for the past eight years," says Jones. "I had a surgical accident. I had a surgery where a doctor messed up and due to the mistakes that he made, I lost part of my leg. I try not to let it bring me down but it is a struggle."

Jones' commute could begin at the 149th Street station, which sits just three blocks from where he lives and goes directly to Union Square. But he says the No. 4, 5 and 6 trains are not accessible.

So instead, he hops on a bus from his East 147th Street home, gets on a train at Hunts Point and takes it to 23rd Street. There, he takes another bus to Third Avenue and finally gets off and travels four more blocks to Union Square.

In the nation's largest metropolis, 1.7 billion people ride the subway annually. Only 24% of the city's 472 subway systems are accessible, according to a 2018 report from the city comptroller's office.

Being disabled in the city has put him in multiple difficult situations. He also recounts a day where an elevator outage made a tough day even harder.

"I was coming off the Q train - the elevator was broken on the platform," says Jones. "I had someone carry my chair upstairs ... I was already 20 minutes late for a meeting. I had to do the unthinkable. I had to butt slide all the way up these stairs. You get a little choked up, because it's like you feel violated, you know. Why should I have to go through that?"

Without any service delays or other issues, Jones' commute would take around 40 minutes.

"It's a little bit annoying that we're talking about this type of an issue in 2019 because I feel like it should be rectified already," says Jones.

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