ACCOUNTABILITY AND ACCESSIBILITY

A young mother carrying her one-year-old child and a stroller full of groceries collapsed and died descending into the subway. In the wake of this tragedy there’s been a call for accountability and accessibility. We have the details.

 Aired on January 31, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> THE TRAGIC DEATH OF A YOUNG MOTHER WHO FELL DOWN THE STAIRS OF A MANHATTAN SUBWAY STATION THIS WEEK HAS RAISED SERIOUS QUESTIONS ABOUT SAFETY AND ACCESSIBILITY OF NEW YORK CITY'S TRANSIT SYSTEM.

22-YEAR-OLD MALAYSIA GOODSON FELL WHILE CARRYING A 1-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER DOWN TO THE PLATFORM AROUND 8:00 P.M. MONDAY NIGHT.

THE STATION HAS NO ELEVATORS, AND AN OFFICIAL SAID BOTH ESCALATORS ONLY GO UP IN ONE DIRECTION, LEAVING GOODSON NO CHOICE BUT TO TAKE THE STAIRS THAT NIGHT.

THE INCIDENT HAS PUT A TRAGIC SPOTLIGHT ON THE ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES THAT HAVE PLAGUED THE SUBWAY SYSTEM FOR YEARS.

ACCORDING TO 'THE NEW YORK TIMES,' ONLY ABOUT A QUARTER OF THE SUBWAY SYSTEM'S 472 STATIONS HAVE ELEVATORS.

AND MANY OF THOSE ARE OFTEN OUT OF ORDER.

FOLLOWING THE INCIDENT, MAYOR DEDe BLASIO TWEETED THIS IS A HEARTBREAKING TRAGEDY THAT SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED.

THE SUBWAY SYSTEM IS NOT ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE AND THAT'S AN ENVIRONMENT THAT THE MTA SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED.

JOINING US NOW IS FOUNDER OF AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS PUSHED TO MAKE TRANSIT MORE ACCESSIBLE TO PARENTS.

CHRISTINE, THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

FIRST, AS A MOTHER, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO JUST HEARING ABOUT THE STORY, WAS THIS SOMETHING THAT SHOCKED YOU OR SOMETHING THAT WAS MORE OF AN INEVITABLE TRAGEDY?

IT IS SHOCKING THAT IT GOT TO THE POINT WHERE THAT HAPPENED, BUT I THINK EVERYBODY KNEW THE PROBLEMS.

ALL PARENTS, CAREGIVERS ARE VERY AWARE OF THIS.

AND THE MTA IS AWARE OF IT, AS WELL.

IT IS AN AWFUL TRAGEDY.

I JUST WANT TO GIVE OUR VIEWERS AND SO MANY OF THEM, OF COURSE, EITHER HAVE SMALL CHILDREN OR HAVE RAISED SMALL CHILDREN, BUT GIVE US AN UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR FAMILY DYNAMIC, AND HOW YOU WORK WITH YOUR KIDS.

I HAVE TWO CHILDREN, 4 AND ALMOST 1.

AND I ALWAYS NEED A STROLLER, I'VE NEEDED A STROLLER THE ENTIRE TIME FOR AT LEAST ONE OF THEM.

INCLUDING WHILE PREGNANT.

SO CARRYING A STROLLER UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS, OUR STATION IS NOT YET ACCESSIBLE.

SOME OF THEM ARE WITHIN SIX STOPS OR SO.

SO ALWAYS GOING UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS CARRYING AT LEAST ONE STROLLER AND IT'S INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT, AND PEOPLE ARE OFTEN FALLING, TRIPPING, CHILDREN, AS WELL.

AND THERE'S NOT REALLY AN ALTERNATIVE.

THE NEED FOR ELEVATORS IS DIRE.

AND I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE OUT IN THE ASTORIA AREA OF QUEENS, CORRECT?

YES.

SO THEN GIVEN THE FACT THAT YOU ALREADY ARE DEALING WITH A SUBWAY LINE THAT SUSPECT NECESSARILY ACCESSIBLE, YOU DO YOU NAVIGATE YOUR LIFE?

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE TO TAKE KIDS TO THE DOCTOR OR TO A PLAY DATE OR TO SCHOOL, HOW DOES THAT WORK?

THE INACCESSIBILITY OF THE SYSTEM IS REALLY LIMITING.

MOST PEOPLE, INCLUDING OUR FAMILIES, STAND AROUND, SOMETIMES DURING RUSH HOUR, BUT IT'S REALLY HARD.

AND I THINK WHAT'S IMPORTANT HERE IS GETTING TO THE POINT THAT WE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO RELY ON OTHER CUSTOMERS, INDIVIDUAL ACTS OF KINDNESS OR, YOU KNOW, THAT RESPONSIBILITY SHOULDN'T FALL ON OUR FELLOW RIDERS.

WE NEED TO HAVE INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT, BECAUSE WE OFTEN TIMES HAVE TO WAIT FOR SOMEBODY TO WAIT US GET DOWN THE STAIRS, OR WAIT FOR SOMEBODY TO COME BACK TO THE STATION BOOTH TO OPEN THE GATE.

THERE'S JUST A LOT OF ACCESS THAT MAKES GETTING AROUND THE CITY REALLY DIFFICULT.

AND OF COURSE, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS YOU MIGHT BE REFERRING TO, A LOT OF PEOPLE ON TWITTER, AFTER HEARING ABOUT THIS TRAGIC INCIDENT, WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW IT'S ALMOST BECOME NEW YORK CITY RITUAL WHERE IF YOU SEE A MOTHER WITH A STROLLER, AS A STRANGER, YOU ASK TO HELP, YOU TAKE THE FRONT, THEY TAKE THE BACK AND YOU WALK UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS, BUT UNFORTUNATELY THAT DOESN'T ALWAYS HAPPEN.

WHAT KIND OF ACTION OR PRESSURE IS YOUR ORGANIZATION HOPING TO PUT ON THE MTA?

WE HAVE INTRODUCED A RESOLUTION TO TRY TO GET A PREGNANCY AND FAMILY REPRESENTATIVE AT THE MTA.

WE HAVE HAD RALLIES FOR ELEVATORS SPECIFICALLY TARGETING PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS AND CHILDREN TO SHOW UP.

AND THEY HAVE.

AND WE'VE MET WITH THE MTA, AND WE HAVE GIVEN A LIST OF POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS AND SAID, THIS NEEDS TO BE A PRIORITY.

THIS IS JUST AN AWFUL THING TO HAVE HAPPEN.

ONE FINAL QUESTION.

AGAIN, WITH THE ISSUES THAT WE SEE WITH THE MTA, WITH THE EXISTING SYSTEM AND, OF COURSE, THE FEW ELEVATORS THAT EXIST THAT ARE OFTEN OUT OF ORDER, AND THE SIGNAL PROBLEMS AND ALL THESE OTHER ISSUES THAT THE MTA HAS HAD, IF THERE IS MONEY THAT'S FOUND TO THEN START PUTTING IN MORE ELEVATORS AND ESCALATORS INTO THE SUBWAY STOPS, DO YOU HAVE FAITH THAT THE MTA WILL KEEP ALL OF THEM UP AND RUNNING?

I HAVE FAITH THAT IF THE THINGS THAT ADD SLOW CATS ARE PUSHING FOR ARE DONE, THAT THE NEXT ISSUE SHOULD BE ADDRESSED.

AND THAT WE CAN THEN MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

ALWAYS IMPORTANT TO HAVE FAITH GOING FORWARD IN SOMETHING, ESPECIALLY AFTER A HORRIFIC TRAGEDY LIKE THIS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME AND THANK YOU FOR FOCUSING ON THE ISSUE.

ABSOLUTELY.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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