Welcome to NYCT’s Accessible Station Lab! During this pilot project, we are testing over a dozen new features - including both physical infrastructure and smart phone apps - designed to make subway travel more accessible for riders of all abilities, including those with vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities. The pilot is a “living lab” and while the features are on display, customers at the Jay St-MetroTech station can test any of them in a live station environment and provide feedback directly to NYCT. At the same time, NYCT will be evaluating the durability and performance of each feature as part of its operations.
Why Jay St - MetroTech?
Jay St-MetroTech is an accessible station and a busy transfer hub in downtown Brooklyn. We wanted to host the Accessible Station Lab at a station with high ridership and lots of nearby activity, so that as many of our riders could be part of the project as possible. While it is not our busiest transfer complex, we intentionally chose a station with multiple lines, entrances, and levels so that customers can really test the new signage, floor materials, apps and more designed to assist with finding your way through the station. We also chose a station that already has elevators to ensure that everyone can access the station and participate in the pilot.
Isn’t this station already accessible?
Yes, Jay St - MetroTech is an ADA accessible station with elevator access to all three platforms. The Accessible Station Lab demonstrates features that can further increase accessibility for customers across all disabilities. Customers with mobility-related disabilities can evaluate features such as enhanced signage at elevators and the Accessible Boarding Area, and new approaches to keeping our elevators clean. Customers who are blind or low-vision, deaf or hard-of-hearing, or have cognitive disabilities can test features including new smart phone apps for wayfinding, several types of tactile and braille maps, enhanced signage and service information for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and more. Accessibility is about much more than ramps or elevators, and these features are designed to make the subway more accessible for riders across the spectrum of disabilities.
Why are you testing so many features at one station?
Many of the features we are testing represent different approaches to achieve similar goals - we are testing multiple wayfinding apps for blind or low-vision customers, four different materials that can be used for tactile guideways and stair warnings, several types of signage and two types of tactile maps. We want customers - as well as our own operators and maintainers - to be able to test features side-by-side in the same environment, to compare their experience with each and tell us which features work best for them.
As part of the Fast Forward plan, we are not only committed to installing more elevators to increase vertical access but also to rolling out new accessibility features across our subway system to help riders of all abilities, in addition to making the system more accessible more quickly than in the past. The innovative approach of the Accessible Station Lab allows us to try many features at one time to support this goal. Seeing features perform in the same environment helps us best evaluate their suitability for use across our system as well as their effectiveness in assisting our customers.
How do I participate in the pilot?
The Accessible Station Lab will be on display until the end of 2019, and the MTA invites customers and advocates to visit the station and provide feedback in-person or online. Engaging customers with disabilities, community members, and advocacy organizations is a key element of the project. You can read about everything we’re piloting both in-station at Jay St-MetroTech and on our website here!
If you do not identify as someone with a disability, many of the features can also benefit your ridership experience. Please check out all the new physical features and download the apps to explore the station using these new tools. Come back to this page in early November for an online survey you can take any time, and look for station personnel with surveys who may be able to take your feedback as you pass through the station.
How did you decide which features to test?
We started by identifying some of the biggest needs/challenges for subway riders with disabilities in using the system, based on discussions with hundreds of advocates and subway riders with disabilities. We then surveyed transit systems across the US and the world to see how they are tackling these issues, whether through infrastructure or technology, and what new ideas are being tested. For example, tactile guideways are very common in Japan, while the Aira app is currently being tested on the MBTA in Boston. We looked to incorporate as many of these features as possible into the Accessible Station Lab, so that our customers can test all the ‘latest and greatest’ in accessibility features side-by-side here at Jay St. There are still some features that we aren’t able to test as part of this pilot but are exploring for the future testing at other stations while this pilot is running. We are always looking for additional ideas from other cities and transit systems – this is by no means the only chance to test new accessibility features and we will continue to evaluate new ideas in this area as they become available. We encourage customers to share with us if they have ideas for other features that could make our system more accessible.
How will you decide which features are successful?
Customer feedback will be a key factor in evaluating each feature in the pilot. We want to know not just which features customers like, but which are the easiest to understand, which they would use most often, and which they feel need improvement.
We are also doing our own review of each feature for operational concerns: we are looking at how all the new materials hold up to wear-and-tear in this busy station, how easy or difficult they are to clean, and how they can be maintained. For the apps, our team is looking at how consistently they perform and how reliable they are, how well they interact with other technology already in our stations, and how the app and the vendor are able to integrate into our unique transit environment.
Tell Us What You Think!
Throughout this pilot, our team at New York City Transit will be evaluating the features for operational performance, but the pilot’s success depends on you! To provide feedback on the Accessible Station Lab, use our web form and select Subways and Compliment (even if your feedback isn't positive--we want to hear it all!) from the drop down menus. Then select A Station and choose Accessible Station Lab, and tell us in the comment field which feature or features you tested and what you think. You can also call 511 and tell us what you think.