December 4, 2017




Port Jervis residents call for full handicapped accessibility at train station

PORT JERVIS, NY – About 50 people gathered at the Port Jervis Metro-North train station  Sunday afternoon to bring attention and change to access limitations for riders wishing to board or exit the train in Port Jervis.

Some were in wheelchairs or scooters, some using canes, and others with health issues they say keep them from being able to climb the steep, narrow steps above the station’s boarding platform.

Waiting on the parking-lot level platform for an incoming train ...

... with a floor almost four feet above the platform.

“I would love to be able to go to New York City with my family to see the Christmas tree or maybe a Yankee game,” said Eugene Raponi of Forestburgh, who uses a motorized wheelchair.  “I think this was a good start.  Hopefully it will make an impression and get the attention of people who can bring these changes.”

Marcia Raponi, Eugene’s wife, said they would also like to be able to take the train to Irvington, New Jersey where their daughter and her family live. The Irvington station is accessible.

Raponi, who worked summers as a teenage helping to repair and build tracks for the O&W and Erie Railroads, said he believes change can happen if more people get involved.

The peaceful rally was organized by longtime Port Jervis resident Peter Tomasi and hosted by St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Port Jervis.  Tomasi spoke of efforts by himself and fellow resident Stan Siegel to push for access for all at the station, and responses from the railroad unfavorable to making this happen.

“Metro North and the MTA’s position discriminates against our community, denying our citizens and those wanting to travel to Port Jervis the freedom of access it grants to communities such as Middletown, Campbell Hall, Harriman, and Suffern to name a few East of Port Jervis,” Tomasi told the group gathered at the station on Sunday.   “All members of our families and community must have equal access; inaccessibility separates our community into two parts, allowing those who can board without assistance to come and go while denying the same freedom and dignity to those who can’t.”

Tomasi read recent letters of support and request for action sent to railroad officials by U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, New York State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, Port Jervis’ ADA Committee, and a response from former Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti to ongoing correspondence from Siegel advising the railroad’s position is that is in compliance with all ADA requirements.

“I feel that this is discrimination,” said resident Jim Garrity, who while able to board the trains attended to support access for all. 

Tomasi brought a step ladder with him to visually demonstrate the 44-inch floor height of the passenger trains, which in Port Jervis may only be accessed by stepping up from a platform and climbing several narrow, steep metal steps to reach the 44-inch high train floor.

“With faith and determination, we will show Metro-North and the MTA that “Port Pride” will mean that none of the Port Jervis residents will be left behind,” Tomasi said.  “We’re on the wrong side of the mountain for boarding the train, and it seems obviously wrong.  This affects our entire community by separating those who can from those who cannot.”

“Change will happen,” said Patty Baughman, who helped to organize the rally with Tomasi and her husband Rev. Aaron Baughman of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.  “We want to be a welcoming community.  People need to be compliant with ADA and held accountable.”


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