There are a variety of very wheelchair friendly transportation options in and around New York City. Whether you are looking to get to or from the New York City Airport, visit city attractions, or tour one of the many local landmarks - your guaranteed an accessible, comfortable transportation experience. Below you will find the information you need to make New York City easily accessible.
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA)
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in New York, serving 12 counties in Downstate New York, along with two counties in southwestern Connecticut under contract to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, carrying over 11 million passengers on an average weekday systemwide, and over 850,000 vehicles on its seven toll bridges and two tunnels per weekday. MTA is the largest public transit authority in the United States.
The MTA network includes the nation’s largest bus fleet and more subway and commuter rail cars than all other U.S. transit systems combined. It provides over 2.6 billion trips each year, accounting for about a third of the nation’s mass transit users and two-thirds its commuter rail passengers. MTA Bridges and Tunnels, which saw a record 310 million crossings in 2017, carries more vehicles than any other bridge and tunnel authority in the nation.
According to the MTA, all buses are 100 percent accessible. Many feature on-boarding ramp.
In some stations, ramps constructed prior to the adoption of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines may not meet current ADA standards for slope, landing and handrail requirements. On commuter rail lines, some ticket offices and restrooms are not accessible by wheelchair.
Fortunately, I've never had the opportunity to ride any of the MTA buses, trains or the subway. Although apparently the buses are wheelchair accessible, I've heard many horror stories about the subway and the lack of accessible stations, restrooms and out-of-order elevators.
My research shows approximately 120 subway stations of a total of 470 stations meet ADA standards. Elevators are routinely out-of-service and wheelchair travelers are often left stranded. The city has not made persons with disabilities a priority. So unless you know exactly where you're headed and that the route is 100% reliable, I'd recommend avoiding the subway and other MTA stations.
I found a couple YouTube videos which shows the horrible status of the NYC subway system for wheelchair travelers. You should watch these before attempting a subway journey.
New York City Taxis and Other Transportation
Phone: (646)-599-9999 | Visit Website
NYC Wheelchair Accessible Transportation
Phone: (212) 920 | Visit Website
Phone: 718-507-0500 | Visit Website
Cathay Express Transportation
Phone: (212) 261-5555 | Visit Website
Phone: (877) 957-3530 | Visit Website
Big Ben Transportation
Phone: 347-653-0425 | Visit Website
Accessible Dispatch: They have over 230 accessible taxis. Availability is still the issue especially at peak hours where 20-30 minutes are common. This YouTube video of a traveler using Accessible Dispatch is impressive. Next time I'm in NYC I'll download the app and give it a try Watch Now
VEGA Transportation: VEGA states they have the largest and newest fleet of luxury ADA wheelchair accessible vehicles in the New York and Tri-State area. Call Vadim at VEGA. Our travel partner Tapooz Travel recommends VEGA and says Vadim is a really nice guy.
Cathay Express: Expensive but very experienced and reliable. They started as a medical transportation and still have this "image", but they're getting better. Contact person is John Han.
Big Ben Transportation: They provide charter services in the Tri-State area, and it's fleet includes many luxury brands including passenger party buses, Mercedes Benz S550, Cadillac SUV, Mercedes Benz Sprinter van, Executive shuttle bus and Black Stretch limousine. Of its 29 vehicles, Big Ben Transportation has 1 wheelchair accessible bus with an hydraulic lift. It's a 12 person van which can take 2 wheelchair passengers. In 2018, pricing was $125 per hour with a 4 hour minimum. The following Big Ben Transportation Yelp site shows the wheelchair accessible van and lift Watch Video
Accessible Van Rentals
Accessible van rentals are expensive and cost $130-$150 per day plus mileage. Many charge an additional $50-$90 for delivery and pick-up services. Some rental companies will not add hand controls or provide transfer/swivel seats, preferring to rent to able bodied persons who drive persons confined to wheelchairs.
Big Bus New York
Phone: (212) 685-8687
Our New York bus tours serve up the Big Apple in perfect slices. Hop on to capture panoramic views of icons like the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge. Hop off at any Big Bus stop to discover New York's famous neighborhoods and hidden gems.
- Great news for travelers! ALL the Big Buses in NYC are wheelchair accessible on the lower level. All the buses are double decker and the upper deck is not accessible. The buses leave every 20 minutes. What a great way to tour the city.
- There are many NYC tours so be cautious and be sure to select Big Bus.
- Although many Big Buses around the country are not accessible, the NYC vehicles are newer. Perhaps accessible bus tours will be coming to other cities as well. Let's hope so!