Class action lawsuit claims LIRR discriminates against the disabled

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HOLTSVILLE -

A class action lawsuit was announced Wednesday against the Long Island Rail Road and the MTA over claims that the railroad discriminates against people with physical disabilities.

One of the issues the lawsuit addresses is what the plaintiffs claim to be a lack of available metal bridges to help people in wheelchairs or motorized scooters cross over the gap between the train and the platform.

The group says conductors are sometimes nowhere to be found when they need to get on or off the train. That means that they are left stranded on the platform or stuck on the train. Amityville resident Raymond Harewood, who needs a walker or a motorized scooter to get around, says it has happened to him before. He says it's not only a frustrating inconvenience, but it's also demoralizing to be ignored by the train staff.

“Helpless. Irritating. Just imagine, you have someplace you need to go…but you're not able to because of someone not paying attention, not doing their job. Something's got to change,” says Harewood.

The lawsuit, filed on June 10, also claims that there is not enough time for disabled people to get on their trains at Penn Station, especially during rush hour.

The plaintiffs are seeking some financial compensation, but they say the main purpose of the lawsuit is to get the MTA to improve its policies toward disabled riders. Attorney James Bahamonde, who is also disabled, says better training is needed for LIRR crews.

“It's a systemic problem that happens numerous times to all people who use wheelchairs and scooters,” says Bahamonde.

Currently, six LIRR stations have no disabled access, though the railroad says an elevator is coming to Floral Park.

News 12 reached out to the Long Island Rail Road for a comment, but it has not yet responded.

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