Selected Aspects of Accommodations for Passengers With Disabilities (Follow-Up)

Issued Date
May 12, 2023
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 


To determine the extent of implementation of the seven recommendations included in our initial audit report, Selected Aspects of Accommodations for Passengers With Disabilities (2019-S-41).


The PANYNJ was established in 1921 as an interstate public entity created to control the port district of New York and New Jersey, maintaining the trade and travel infrastructure of the area. PANYNJ’s portfolio of five airports, an interstate rail system, three bus terminals, and three cruise terminals serve the transportation needs of millions in the New York City metropolitan area.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Act or ADA) was signed into law to provide people with a disability the right to access and participate in the same day-to-day activities as everyone else. The Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federally assisted programs. Several federal agencies oversee compliance with the Act, including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Transportation.

According to the Act, PANYNJ was required to identify key stations in its Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) system and make those stations accessible and usable by people with a disability by July 1994, absent an extension of time. Any new construction or alteration of an existing station after October 1991 was also subject to this accessibility requirement. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires airport (and terminal) operators to be responsible for implementing and maintaining boarding accessibility.

PANYNJ is also subject to certain DOJ regulations. Title II prevents discrimination of people with a disability on the basis of their disability by state and local government services. As in other sections of the Act, Title II requires a designated person to receive and resolve complaints about accessibility and publish grievance procedures. A May 2007 DOJ publication established best practices for state and local government website accessibility.

The objective of our initial audit, issued July 29, 2021, was to determine whether PANYNJ complied with selected requirements of the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and corresponding federal regulations to make its facilities accessible to passengers with a disability. The audit covered the period from June 24, 2019 to March 12, 2020.

Specifically, the audit found that PANYNJ complied with selected aspects of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that we reviewed within the PATH system and at the three bus terminals operated by PANYNJ.

However, we did note there were deficiencies and non-compliance with the regulations in areas of the Port Authority Bus Terminal where some of the gates at both the lower and upper levels were inaccessible to customers using a mobility device, and no signage was evident to direct customers to seek assistance from PANYNJ staff.

Four of the PATH stations, in Manhattan (9th Street, 14th Street, 23rd Street, and Christopher Street) were not accessible for customers who are in a wheelchair, and no signage was present indicating the nearest wheelchair-accessible stations. We also found that tactile tiles (raised rubber platform edge), which alert travelers with a visual impairment to platform edges and ends, were in poor condition at three PATH stations: Newark, Newport, and Grove Street.

In the Aviation sector, PANYNJ did not have written agreements between the airport operator and terminal operator allocating responsibilities for meeting the boarding requirements with all airport operators and carriers, as required by federal regulation.

We also found that PANYNJ’s website did not follow DOJ’s best practices toolkit and had only limited accessibility because there was no option to format text for visually impaired people.

Key Findings

We found that PANYNJ officials made progress in addressing the issues identified in our initial report. Of the seven recommendations, five were implemented and two were partially implemented.

Key Recommendation

Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of this report to provide information on any action planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in this follow-up.

Carmen Maldonado

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236