Transit officials are testing “wide-aisle” turnstiles for wheelchair users at five stations — while beginning to let all riders enter through some emergency gates, officials said Wednesday.
MTA officials have budgeted $25 million to install the wider gates at over 200 different stations over the next few years, MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo said — beginning with five gates at Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, Flushing Avenue and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, and Penn Station and Bowling Green in Manhattan.
Arroyo said the new gates will not only let riders in wheelchairs enter through the subway’s turnstiles — but also make it easier for parents with strollers, cyclists and riders with heavy luggage.
Additionally, the MTA has installed tap-and-go payment readers at 240 emergency gates, which any rider can use to pay their fare and enter. Entry via the so-called “slam” gates is otherwise limited to 28,000 people with reduced fare MetroCards, Arroyo said.
He said the MTA is studying the tap-and-pay “slam” gates at five stations to see who is taking advantage of the new entry option.
“These wide-aisle fare gates are not just for people with disabilities,” Arroyo told MTA board members during their monthly meeting. “Wide-aisle fare gates is where we’re headed.”
“A lot more than 28,000 people need access to our system,” he said. “A lot more people need access to our stations for whom a turnstile did not work.”