In the long list of MTA screw-ups, this one ranks pretty high: The New York Daily News reports that the MTA made a “useless fix” at the Middletown Road Station in the Bronx, adding a low-level MetroCard reader for handicap accessibility while failing to install an elevator for the handicapped. The above-ground station at Middletown Road and Westchester Avenue requires “more than two dozen steps from the sidewalk” and “another 20 or so steps to the platforms,” notes the paper.

Worse still, no one seems to know why this happened:

An MTA spokesman couldn’t explain why the subway entrance — unreachable to wheelchair users — was modified for them. Nor could he explain why time and money was spent putting a low-level transaction tray on the front of the token booth for wheelchair users, who will never make it up to the booth.

One theory is that a contractor made a mistake. Another is that the MTA cut corners, taking advantage of a loophole in the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that public facilities be made handicap accessible when feasible — at an expense that isn’t “disproportionate.” The cost of installing the elevators was estimated to be $17 million — the renovations alone cost $11 million.

In this case, however, the Federal Transit Administration argues it was possible and necessary to install an elevator, and has been in court with he MTA over it for two years. Meanwhile, the low card reader continues to taunt the people it was meant to serve.

(Photo: terraplanner)