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Disabled Vet Calls On LIRR To Improve Accommodations For Riders In Wheelchairs

AMITYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A disabled veteran is taking on the largest commuter rail system in the nation, demanding more accommodations for riders in wheelchairs and scooters.

The push comes after he got stuck on an elevated platform with no way down.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, he served his country, but now disabled Air Force veteran Raymond Harewood said he's been left stranded by the Long Island Rail Road.

"Something has to change," he said.

The closest stations to Harewood's home have no way up or down for disabled riders. Last week in Amityville he was stuck on an elevated platform.

"This day and age it shouldn't be that way. It should be where I can come to the closest train station and be able to get down, whether it's a ramp or elevator," he said.

It took a good Samaritan backing the 60-year-old down the stairs, and the fire department carrying down his 130-lb scooter.

"It's an issue that needs to be addressed before someone gets hurt, badly," Harewood said.

To get to a station with an elevator Harewood rides his scooter five miles to Massapequa where other riders have the same complaint.

"It's a hardship," he said.

Now, he's on a mission to change things.

The LIRR is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The 1990 law only applied to new facilities and provided no funding.

Ramps and elevators are in 80 percent of LIRR stations, but only 18 of 124 stations are fully accessible.

"Whenever a station is rebuilt, it is made accessible," a spokesman said.

Elevators are being added in Wantagh, but a leading advocate for disable rights said while the railroad is following the letter of the law, it's not following the spirit.

"I don't think that people who drafted the ADA 27 years ago would have imagined the slow process it is making, this is not right," Viscardi Center, president and CEO, John D Kemp said.

Harewood said he's fighting not only for his on rights but also for elderly riders -- people who use walkers and even mothers pushing strollers.

He believes public transportation should serve all of the public.

Metro North has more than twice as many stations as the LIRR, which fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


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