Central Subway Station Could Force Disabled to Hike Half a Mile

Categories: Public Transit
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A half-mile away
We've already stated in the past that the Central Subway is a boondoggle for San Francisco, connecting people to parts of town they don't really want to go. But that's beside the point. What we are learning now is that some station stops could end up being a long haul for disabled riders.

The Mayor's Disability Council has been in discussions with Muni officials to make sure there are plenty of accessible elevators at the Union Square station -- and apparently it is hard to accomplish.

At issue is whether the Union Square station will have two elevators, in case one goes out of service. As of now, the plan is for one elevator located in a shadowy, dead-end part of the station. The location of this elevator is much to be desired; disabled advocates argue that it would be both difficult to navigate and a likely sleeping nook and Porta-John for homeless people.

And then what would disabled riders do in the event that the one elevator was broken? Advocates pushed Muni to come up with a plan for a second elevator at the Union Square stop. And the agency did -- yet it would require the disabled to venture on a half-mile journey. 

What Muni officials are talking about is possibly placing a second elevator at the corner of Powell and Market Streets. That sounds nice, but then it means if the one elevator is out of service, a disabled rider would have to travel 1,300 feet down to the Powell Street elevator, ride it and then travel 1,300 feet back to the Union Sqaure station -- almost a half-mile.

That's a long haul even for the able bodied. A staffer with the Mayor's Office of Disability described the scenario as "problematic."

"I am optimistic, not confident, but optimistic that we will resolve this problem," the staffer said.

Barajah Norris, external affairs manager with the Central Subway project, said that they are trying to work with all parties to come up with a compromise. But he did say that a second elevator at Union Square would ultimately reduce the overall footprint of the station.

"We will just have to see what everyone can live with," Norris said.

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