S. Bronxites urge MTA to fix long-dormant Conc elevator

Photo by Ben Kochman

A group of South Bronxites is pleading with the city for a lift.

But the MTA claims that fixing this particular lift is too tall of a task.

Locals in the South Bronx rallied Monday Feb. 17 outside the subway station on the Grand Concourse and E. 149th Street, where over 30 years ago an elevator once transported riders from the mezzanine down either one floor to the No. 4 IRT line, or down two flights to the No. 2 and 5 lines.

Decades of disrepair

The lift has been out of operation for decades now. And a $19 million renovation to the station, completed in December 2013, did not include elevator repairs.

That leaves the over 13,000 straphangers that use the stop daily to their own devices as they climb and descend the 83 steps from street level to the 2 and 5 trains on the station’s bottom floor.

“There’s an imminent danger here,” charged John “Indio” Washington, who lived in the area back when the elevator worked. “We have mothers with strollers, and so many people with asthma. How can we ask them to come up three flights of stairs by themselves?”

Rallying for a lift

Protesters from the South Bronx Community Congress have been pressuring the MTA to fix the lift since 2012, when a group of disgruntled seniors living at the Michaelangelo Apartments brought the issue to their attention.

Since then, they’ve staged two rallies at the site and collected hundreds of signatures from community groups and students at nearby Hostos Community College.

But the MTA has no plans to budge on the issue. The agency has already agreed to install elevators at 100 stations citywide by 2020 to abide by American Disabilities Act guidelines —and the E. 149th Street and Grand Concourse is not among the chosen stations.

Straphangers who are either disabled or who want to avoid the stairs can hop on the Bx19 bus one stop to the Third Avenue 2/5 station, which has elevators.

Need not as high?

The E. 149th/Grand Concourse station was kept out of the elevator plan partly because other stations had a greater need, said an MTA spokesperson.

Though the station is near landmarks like the General Post Office and the heavily used Gateway Mall, it only ranked 109th in the city’s 2012 ridership ranks. The Third Avenue stop on the other hand ranked 48th with over 24,000 straphangers coming through daily.

But locals are not giving up just yet. They plan to ramp up the pressure with another, larger rally with Hostos students in March.

If that doesn’t work, there’s always divine intervention, said longtime local Alonso Correa:

“We may just have to wait for a miracle.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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