Woman With Disabilities Describes ‘Ramp to Nowhere'

SEPTA spent millions to build wheelchair ramps at one train station, but people with disabilities still aren't able to board the trains there

Despite millions of dollars in renovations, some SEPTA stations remain inaccessible to some travelers with disabilities.

NBC10's Chris Cato talked with Anne Cope, who says she was on the White House lawn when the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990. But 23 years later, she says public transit accessibility in Philadelphia still remains a major problem. 

"The ADA was passed in 1990, and here we are with stations, some pretty important stations, that aren't accessible yet," said Cope.

SEPTA  has spent 9.2 million dollars in federal stimulus money to build two elaborate wheelchair ramps and a pedestrian tunnel at the Malvern station. However, once reaching the top of the ramp, people with disabilities cannot board any trains because there is no raised platform there.

"It makes me laugh, it's hysterical," said Cope, in reference to the ramp that leads nowhere.

Living between the Malvern and Paoli stations and confined to a power chair, Cope says the inaccessibility is a huge inconvenience, adding that the nearest accessible SEPTA station is nearly 40 minutes away in traffic.

Bob Lund, SEPTA’S Assistant General Manager of Engineering, says that the stimulus fund ran dry before they could build the high-level platforms at Malvern.

Plans to build the platform are in the future, but only when more funding becomes available, after SEPTA addresses issues with “bridges and substations that keep our lines running that have the highest priority.” 

Lund added that SEPTA is technically in compliance with the ADA since the “key stations” are accessible, but many stations, like Malvern, don’t fall under that label.

Cope said that the goal is accessibility is not just for the key stations, but all SEPTA stations.

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