The NYC Subway is not a friendly senior citizens Subway. From the hustle and bustle of thousands of people to poor disabled accessibility at most stations, the NYC Subway is a place that most senior citizens will avoid at all costs. There are, however, some handy tools available that can help make the NYC Subway experience a little easier for the Baby Boomers and the older Silent Generation. The Subway tools include the Senior Citizen Subway Discount card, large print maps, Access-A-Ride and the disabled accessible stations list.
Senior Citizens Subway Discount and the New York Subway
Customers who are 65 years of age (or above) are eligible for a senior citizens Subway discount. The Subway discount card gives customers 50% discount on the base travel fare on the NYC Subway system. The reduced fare Metrocard can be used to purchase a single journey fare or an unlimited journey weekly or monthly Metrocard.
To receive the discount fare, customers are required to apply for a discount card that will be approved by the MTA. When approved, customers will receive a personalized Reduced-Fare MetroCard that will show their name and photograph. Previously, seniors were able to take their information to one of the many senior citizens centers (like the Bayside Senior center or North Shore Towers) where the MTA would visit once a week to process applications. Due to MTA cuts, this service is no longer available. There are now only two ways to apply for the Reduced-Fare MetroCard, in person or via the mail. The application can be downloaded here: Reduced Fare Metrocard Application
How to Apply in Person For a Reduced Fare MetroCard.
You can bring the completed application form with two forms of valid government ID to the walk-in MetroCard Customer Service Center and office located at:
3 Stone Street,
New York NY, 10004
This office is located in Lower Manhattan, between Broadway and Broad Street.
As well as the application form you should bring an ID and a 2” x 1 ½” photograph. One of the forms of ID must have a photograph of you on it. Valid forms of ID include:
- Driver’s License
- Medicare Card
- Birth Certificate
How to Apply By Mail For a Reduced Fare MetroCard.
Once you have downloaded and completed the application, you can mail it to the address below with a photocopy of your ID and a 2” x 1 ½” photograph.
Attn: Reduced Fare Program
130 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201-9625
NYC Subway Accessible Stations
One major problem Senior citizens can face while travelling on the NYC Subway system is accessibility to stations and trains for elderly disabled passengers, who may be unable to use stairs, escalators or elevators.
Not all stations have elevators so the sight of the many stairs and escalators to seniors can be daunting. The MTA website has a list of Accessible Subway Stations that can help you avoid problems. Many of the Subway stations in the city are also equipped with AutoGate, which is an automatic entry/exit gate that allows customers with disabilities, or those that are accompanied by service animals, to enter and exit the Subway system. To enter or exit through the AutoGate customers require a Reduced-Fare AutoGate MetroCard. The Reduced fare AutoGate Metrocard can be obtained by providing supporting medical information from a doctor during the application for the Reduce Fare Metrocard which is listed above.
NYC Subway For Visually Impaired Seniors
Being visually impaired is another issue many passengers on the senior citizens Subway can face when travelling on the NYC Subway. One great tool for overcoming this is the Large Scale Subway Map. All off the newly renovated stations and the stations that are fully accessible have tactile Braille signage. This can be always be found on the left hand side of the station booth, on platform columns and on other columns throughout the station.
Customers with visual disabilities are also permitted to bring service animals onto the New York Subway. Although it is not compulsory for the travelers to carry identification for the service animals, they should complete a Service Animal Voluntary Identification Application.
For senior citizens who have voice activated smartphones there are some smartphone Apps available that will give voice guidance on the selected routes. One such App is the NYC Transit App, customers could set up their travel destination with assistance and the App will guided them step by step along their journey. Elderly passengers who have difficulty with their vision could find this reassuring. (More Useful Subway Planning Apps)
Access-A-Ride: Takes Seniors to Nearest Subway
The MTA provides a service called Access-A-Ride which is primarily for disabled passengers, but disabled senior citizens can also use it. Over 60% of the current registered customers are over 65. Access-A-Ride costs the same as the regular fixed route rate, but is a door-to-door service that can be used by customers who face disabilities that prevent them from easily using public transportation. The service will either take you on your full journey or will take from your home to the nearest accessible station, this depends on your mobility.
There have been complaints about this service being abused by patrons who may lack justification to qualify for this service E.G. High Pitch Eric, a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show.Access-A-Ride applications
Travel Training: Disabled Seniors Learn How To Use The Subway
The MTA of New York City currently sponsors a travel training program that is run by the AAR (Access-A-Ride). This service could help make the NYC Subway a senior citizens Subway. The service allows NYC Subway passengers with physical or cognitive impairment to learn how to safely navigate their way to work, school,health facilities, recreation facilities and also many cultural institutions for which New York is famous for. The Travel Training Application
The program allows learner to master skills such as,
- Planning a trip: use of schedules, signs, telephone, information services, and landmarks.
- Remembering and following directions.
- Traveling safely at all times.
- Identifying the correct bus stop, bus, Subway station, or Subway.
- Coping with service disruptions, delays, and emergencies.
- Correctly using mobility aids, such as crutches, walkers, wheelchairs,and scooters.
- Requesting information/help from appropriate sources.
The NYC Subway can be a daunting place for senior citizens but with the many tools available to guide and assist customers it is not an option that should be overlooked. With a little planning the tools can help make the Subway a place for all.