If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to New York City but are concerned about accessibility due to using a wheelchair, rest assured that it’s entirely feasible. This guide will provide you with a wealth of useful advice to ensure you have an enjoyable journey, regardless of any physical disabilities.
New York City has been working diligently for many years to make all its public spaces accessible for individuals with disabilities. This effort, in collaboration with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has resulted in significant improvements since 1990 for individuals with physical, visual, and hearing impairments.
Here are some key points to consider:
- Navigating New York City streets in a wheelchair
- Special rates for individuals with disabilities using the Subway
- Accessing the wheelchair-friendly bus service: Access-a-Ride
- Using New York public transportation while in a wheelchair
- Taking the subway in a wheelchair
- Using the Amtrak train to Long Island, Washington DC for wheelchair users
- Accessibility of government offices (banks, post offices)
- Accessibility of tourist attractions
The sidewalks in New York, particularly in tourist hotspots like 5th Avenue, are wide, making it easier to move around. At every intersection, the sidewalks are ramped, enabling you to cross streets with ease.
All New York MTA buses are equipped with lifts for wheelchair access, and each bus has a designated area for wheelchair users.
Special Rates for Individuals with Disabilities Using the Subway
There is a special Reduced-Fare AutoGate Metrocard available for individuals with physical disabilities. This special rate applies to the subway, buses, and Access-a-Ride transportations.
Accessing the Wheelchair-Friendly Bus Service: Access-a-Ride
The MTA has introduced a service specifically for wheelchair users called “Access-A-Ride”. To use this service, you need to call 24 hours in advance. The fare is the same as regular Subway and bus fare, and the service operates around the clock. You can also have a companion travel with you.
Using New York Public Transportation While in a Wheelchair
The MTA has a fleet of 4300 buses equipped with lifts. To board the bus, simply position yourself at the stop and signal the driver. If the driver doesn’t notice you, ask someone to alert them.
Taking the Subway in a Wheelchair
Not all subway stations are wheelchair accessible. To ensure a smooth journey, always use an accessible subway station. The MTA’s website provides a list of all subway stations that accommodate wheelchair users. Be sure to check the status of the elevators at the station you plan to use.
Using the Amtrak Train to Long Island, Washington DC for Wheelchair Users
All Amtrak trains and stations are wheelchair accessible.
Accessibility of Government Offices (Banks, Post Offices)
Almost all of New York’s public spaces, including government offices, are wheelchair accessible. Most ATMs are also lowered to facilitate transactions.
Accessibility of Tourist Attractions
All tourist attractions are equipped for wheelchair users. This includes the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, MoMA, Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, Madame Tussauds’ museum, and more. The New York City Pass provides a list of all wheelchair-accessible attractions.
- Empire State Building: The Empire State Building is fully accessible for wheelchair users. The observatory offers easy access via the entrance on 34th street between Bank of America and Hallmark. This entrance, labeled “34th Street Handicap,” is open Monday to Friday until 6 pm. If you wish to enter at a different time, use the main entrance.
- American Museum of Natural History: The Museum of Natural History is open to all visitors and provides exhibitions, programs, and services available to all. The museum is fully accessible, with ramps and elevators available for easy navigation.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET): The MET is wheelchair accessible, with ramps and elevators available for easy navigation. Wheelchairs are also available at the coat check for visitors who may need them.
- Top of the Rock: The Top of the Rock complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring all access points are wheelchair friendly. This includes ramps, elevators, and restrooms.
- Guggenheim Museum: The museum is accessible everywhere to wheelchairs except for the high gallery. Wheelchairs are also available for free at the museum for those who need them.
- MoMA: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is fully accessible to wheelchair users. All galleries, restrooms, shops, and restaurants are accessible by wheelchair, and wheelchairs are available free of charge.
- Museum of Natural History: The Museum of Natural History is fully accessible to all visitors. It provides exhibitions, programs, and services that are available to all. Wheelchairs are available for use free of charge.
- Madame Tussauds’ Museum: Madame Tussauds’ Museum is fully accessible for wheelchair users. Wheelchairs are also available at the museum for those who need them.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to check the specific accessibility details on the attraction’s official website or contact them directly for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
In conclusion, a trip to New York City in a wheelchair is not only possible but can be a fantastic experience with a little planning and the right information.
Born and raised amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I’ve witnessed the city’s many exciting phases. New York is not just a city to me; it’s a living, breathing entity. When I’m not exploring the city or penning down my thoughts, you can find me sipping on a cup of coffee at my favorite local café, playing chess or planning my next trip. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in South Williamsburg with my partner Berenike.