This post on the scenes of Queens focuses on one of the MTA and NYC Transit’s most recognizable depots, the Rockaway Blvd. Station in Ozone Park, where the A trains go to and from Lefferts Blvd. and Mott Ave. destinations before going to their destinations in Richmond Hill and Far Rockaway. Although at times it’s mostly not recognizable as tourists and gentries keep confusing the two trains upon each trains arrival and wind up stuck an inconvenienced or causing irritable delays asking commuters if it’s the train going to the beach and airport despite the convenience of hanging timeline monitors or available MTA apps easily available on their thousand dollar cellphones.
But this isn’t about griping over oblivious commuters not paying attention to detail (even though it’s obvious I been waiting years to get this off my chest), the reason why this station is getting way belated attention is because of recent news that has relevance to what is not here and what is here at this very busy transit stop that is linked to about 6 bus transfers on Cross Bay and Rockaway Blvd.
Let’s acknowledge what’s here first. About 4 or 5 years ago, the MTA run by Governor Cuomo was renovating and upgrading dozens of stations while finally building the 2nd Ave transit line. And in certain stations of these long overdue infrastructure upgrades, the MTA thought, “hey since where already here and all this time to make our scheduled completion, why not put some art at these stations?”
And one of those stations is the one profiled here and this is the exhibition:
This was installed back in 2017. Besides the title which acknowledges the integrated bus/train transit hub in this location and conveyed by the web little colored lenses, it’s not really that imaginative or aesthetically pleasing. Besides, to the eye of the beholder, it doesn’t look safe to lean on and would be a big detriment in the winter time for those long train delays on the platform, especially for night owl workers who have to wait longer because of limited surface. But it actually does serve a purpose. It makes the sights of the boulevards more colorful if you peer through them or through the eye of the celly.
Cross Bay Blvd. before…
All these harbingers take on new colors considering a recent report of how the MTA is slow walking the ADA compliance upgrades because of how they are spending commuter tax dollars trying to fight various lawsuits that forced them to finally make stations accessible for the handicapped and infirm
The MTA has denied a request from a disability rights group to disclose how much it is spending in taxpayer dollars to fight several lawsuits claiming it discriminates against its disabled customers.
The groups — which include the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID) — claim in their lawsuit that the transit agency has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by renovating stations without adding elevators and failing to maintain existing elevators. They also claim an overall lack of subway accessibility is a violation of New York City’s Human Rights laws.
Currently, a little over a quarter of the NYC’s 472 subway stations have elevators, slightly more than what the MTA agreed to after settling an accessibility lawsuit in 1994. The agency agreed to make 100 stations accessible by 2020 at the time, a figure it has exceeded.
In June 2020, BCID executive director Joe Rappaport filed a public request asking the MTA for the full amount it has spent for outside counsel. The agency, last month, denied the request on the basis of how it was worded.
“Please be advised that records are not maintained in a manner which permits practical retrieval because the MTA does not categorize or index payments made for legal services in the manner requested,” the MTA wrote in its response.
The agency released a document containing the retainer fees, but the dollar figures were blacked out.
At the MTA’s monthly board meeting on Wednesday, Gothamist asked MTA Chairman Pat Foye if he would release the dollar figure for how much the MTA has spent on lawyers fighting the six accessibility lawsuits. Foye said he would check with the Freedom of Information Law office about getting the numbers. But he wouldn’t commit to releasing them.
“I can’t commit to that because I don’t know what the issues are, but I will talk to the FOIL people,” he said.
The MTA did not return an earlier request from Gothamist for comment about how much it has spent on outside lawyers fighting the six accessibility lawsuits or why it denied the public records request Rappaport filed.
To make matters worse, this station wasn’t even included in the MTA’s 55 billion dollar infrastructure plan enacted by the embattled Governor Cuomo last year much to the chagrin of former NYC Transit president Andy Byford and enabled by the typically feckless and lazy Mayor de Blasio, who has been defiantly deliberately absent when it comes to transit system in the city he runs.
Even though Cuomo’s MTA continues to obstinately refuse to be accountable for their spending, they can’t obscure the fact that they prioritized decorative improvements over essential ones. Besides the stupid Rockaway Blvd. addition, the MTA’s costly decisions to deny easier access for the city’s most vulnerable commuters for the sake of art is apparent in stations in Manhattan like the Park Ave. South 28th St. Station east side entrance where they commissioned an expansive grandiose floral mosaic on the walls and the 6th ave 23rd St. Station where they commissioned an artist to install portraits of his dogs wearing human clothes. While the 28th St. Station does have an elevator on the west entrance (but no art), the prioritization to put sucky art on the walls at the 23rd St. Station instead of elevators is even more negligent considering that there’s a residential building for the blind down the block from this station.
It’s easy to see why the MTA would try to counter these lawsuits and hire the most expensive law firms to defend their abominable insouciance of the rights of their disabled and aged customers (and let’s not leave out parents with toddlers and babies in strollers who should also be called as witnesses), because they spent more effort making city transit more convenient and pleasant for instagram, tumblr, flickr and twitter by turning stations into ersatz galleries.
While these exhibitions make for great social media sharing, with more city and state funding lost on account of stupid MTA board decisions and inevitable settlements compounded with the low ridership from the pandemic and it’s aftermath in addition of steady subway crime, the future of NYC Transit is heading for a shitty horizon.
But at least the aesthetics will be nice.