A trip to New York in a wheelchair, it’s possible!!!

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Are you dreaming of visiting New York but use a wheelchair?
Don’t worry because it’s possible.
As a matter of fact, I will give you all the great tips and tricks in order to enjoy a great trip even if you’re mentally disabled 😉
The city of New York has fought for a number of years to adapt all its public spaces for people with disabilities.
In partnership with the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA, New York has progressed dramatically since 1990 for people with physical, visual and hearing disabilities.
Here are some great tips:

Enjoy the streets of New York in a wheelchair

Since the sidewalks are very large especially in touristic areas such as 5th avenue, which makes it easier to navigate in the streets of New York.
In each crossroads, the sidewalks are lower which allows you to cross and access the other side of the street easily.

New York buses are equipped with for people with physical disabilities:
– All New York MTA buses are built with lifts to allow access to people in wheelchairs.
– Then inside each bus, an area is reserved for wheelchair customers.

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Is there a special rate for people with disabilities using the Subway?

Yes, a special rate is available for people with physical disabilities called the Reduced-Fare AutoGate Metrocard (here for the official website).

If you want to take advantage of the card, you’ll have to print and fill up the pdf form: http://mta.info/nyct/fare/pdf/disabled.pdf

This special rate is available for subway, buses and Access-a-Ride transportations.

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

How to access the bus especially equipped for wheelchairs called: Access-a-Ride?

MTA transportation has created buses exclusively for wheelchair customers called “Access-A-Ride”.
In order to use this service, you must call by phone 24 hours prior which is the only inconvenience, they are available at 1-877 337-2017 or 718 393 499.
The rate remains the same as a regular Subway and bus fare.
It’s available 24/24.
You have the right to have someone traveling with you.
Of course, “Access-a-Ride” is not a cab (taxi). You won’t be alone on the bus and you won’t know if you’ll be the first to get off, and in that case you’ll just have to wait for your turn patiently.
Make sure you are ready on time for you scheduled pick up since the bus won’t be waiting.
Besides, the MTA indicates on their website that the service Access-a-ride can arrive 5 minutes earlier or up to 30 minutes late in case of traffic. In that case, you have to be patient 🙂

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Is it possible to use New York public transportations if you are in a wheelchair?

The MTA currently has a fleet of 4300 buses equipped with lifts.
In order to use the bus, just place yourself at the stop and wave to the driver.
The bus will stop and right away you’ll enter.
In case the driver doesn’t see you, ask someone to let the driver know you’re here.

Do not worry since Americans are very concerned about discrimination so if a problem arises, someone on the bus will say something. It’s always impressive to see how nice people are on this matter 😉
Actually, a friend of mine just spent two weeks in New York City with its wheelchair. He almost never payed for transportation! Even the bus drivers let him in, no questions asked! At the subway stations, there was always someone to open the emergency door so he could access the subway train!

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

How to take the subway in a wheelchair?

Unfortunately, not all subway stations are equipped to welcome customers in wheelchairs.
In an effort to welcome everyone, subway stations need to have elevators and since few stations are equipped with elevators that lead to subway platforms, make sure you always use an accessible subway station.

On MTA’s website, you’ll get a list of all subway stations accommodating wheelchairs customers.

Be very careful: in order to use the subway, you’ll have to make sure an elevator is working and available at the requested station!!
You can see the status of elevators here.

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Is it possible to take the Amtrak train to Long Island, Washington DC for wheelchairs users?

Yes, all Amtrak trains and stations are wheelchair accessible.

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Are all government offices (banks, post offices) are wheelchairs accessible?

Yes of course, nearly 100% of New York’s public spaces are wheelchair accessible.
In addition, most ATM machines are lowered to facilitate transactions.

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

What about touristic places?

All touristic places without exceptions are equipped for wheelchair users including: the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, MoMA, Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, Madame Tussauds’ museum and more.

Here for instance, you’ll find a list of all attractions with the New York City Pass that are wheelchair accessible.

For the Empire State Building: the observatory provides easy an easy access using the entrance on 34th street between Bank of America and Hallmark. Note: the entrance “34th Street Handicap” is open Monday to Friday until 6 pm. If you wish to enter at a different time then use the main entrance.

American Museum of Natural History: the Museum of Natural History is open to all visitors and provides exhibitions, programs and services available to all.

Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET): wheelchairs are available at the coat check.

Top of the Rock: the Top of the Rock is conformed to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means that all access are wheelchair friendly.

Guggenheim Museum: the museum is accessible everywhere to wheelchairs except for the high gallery unfortunately. Wheelchairs are also available for free.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island cruise: all cruises welcomes wheelchair users.

Circle Line Cruises: all boats are accessible to wheelchairs except for bathrooms in some of the old boats.

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Is it possible to see a Broadway Show in a wheelchair?

Yes, most auditoriums have been renovated lately, and now they welcome wheelchair users. For instance, here’s a picture below of one of the actors of the show “Spiderman”.

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Take a cab in New York, is it possible?

Yes of course, it’s possible.
The driver will have to help get in the cab if you’re alone, fold the wheelchair and put it in the trunk.
If you have an issue with a driver, you need to know that in New York it’s against the law for a cab driver to refuse a ride because of your race, disability, or chosen destination. He has to drive you!!!
If there’s a problem, you can file a complaint by calling 311 and provide the cab number and its license plate.
But let’s not be pessimistic and let’s say that among 14 000 New York cab drivers, only a minority will cause problems 😉

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!

Is it possible to rent a wheelchair in New York?

Yes it’s possible.
Just go to a pharmacy just like I did for a friend of mine. For the story, while vacationing on the East Coast for 3 weeks and just before coming back to New York, my friend injured her foot very badly in an amusement park in Atlantic City. As a result, she couldn’t walk normally, so we went to a pharmacy in New Jersey, and close to our hotel, we managed to rent a wheelchair for 3 days. Finally, she enjoyed the rest of her trip and discovered New York (see the picture above in the article).

Otherwise, you can also rent a wheelchair at Scootaround for instance. They rent simple or motorized wheelchairs. Take a look on their website here:  http://www.scootaround.com/

A trip to New York in wheels, it’s possible!!!


There’s no doubt to say that travelling to New York in a wheelchair is not that easy.
However, the city of New York has managed to provide multiple accesses to wheelchair users with a number of great attractions and touristic sites.
In addition, with the help of friendly and thoughtful New Yorkers, you’ll see that you’ll enjoy a great vacation in New York.


My fist trip to New York was in 2007 when I was working for an airline company. I was born in the US, I lived in Mexico, in Europe in between Belgium, Spain and France… Well, let’s say I know about travelling! I bring my experience of NYC to the blog, to provide the best travel tips you could imagine!

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16 commentaires

  1. Trudy Pratt says:
    Is it possible to do the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge by a wheelchair user? Is the approach easier from the Manhattan side or the Brooklyn side? We are a family of four, I am in wheelchair, coming back to the city for a week.. Thanks for your reply.
  2. Christine says:
    Is it possible to use the hop on hop off buses in a wheelchair?
  3. Mike Birbeck says:
    Thank you for your article, which has helped me to decide to come to NY (from England)in June for 10 days. I was spinally injured in a military incident some 35 years ago, and my wife is also now disabled, although she can walk a few steps. We are both keen photographers, and the opportunities seem almost endless.

    I will be bringing a small power chair, but hiring a more substantial one from Scooteround, plus an electric scooter for my wife. Is it possible to get both on a bus and the Metro? Would it be better to go for two power chairs do you think?

    Many thanks,

    • TeamMemo says:
      You’re welcome Mike!

      Due to the long distances and the uneven pavement on certain streets, I think that it will be easier to use power chairs.
      Not all the Metro station have lifts, but you will always find someone to help you with your chair. All the buses are, supposedly, adapted so you can get on it without any difficulty.

      Concerning photography, you are more than right! I have some great spots here: https://www.new-york-city-travel-tips.com/pictures-new-york/ You may find more while in NY 😉
    • Karen Moran says:
      My Mom and I are planning a trip to NYC in Nov or Dec. She can walk about a block with a walker. Are the hotels on the bus line? We are considering renting a motorized wheelchair. Is it doable on the crowded sidewalks? Is there an area that would be better to stay at for us? I was considering Manhattan but maybe another area would work better. Thank you for any suggestions.
      • TeamMemo says:
        Hi Karen,
        Your best option will be to stay near Times Square. This is where the bus tours leave.

        You can also rent a motorized wheelchair. Some streets can be busy but they will alway respect your way and try to help you to get on the subway for example.

        You can stay outside Manhattan, but it won’t be easy to visit the city.
  4. Anna says:
    Hi again as I’m in by for a full week, in what order should I do my trips so.i don’t waist time backtracking a lot.
    The Normal tourist stuff
    Walking the Brooklyn bridge
    Brooklyn Dumbo
    Any other suggestions I’m open too thanks.
  5. Anna says:
    Hi I’m Anna, I’m a wheelchair user myself, and am traveling to NYC in September.im from Australia
    I’ve been doing a lot of research as I’m staying 8 nights and truly want to exsperence NY.
    is it better to buy an explorer pass or just pay as you get to the attraction .
    Hotel wise I agree with Stephen, I’m staying at the beacon. Larger rooms.
    Thanks for the info great to know people’s exsperences.
  6. Stephen says:
    Interesting article/blog. As a full time wheelchair user I have found Manhattan to be good , very good, poor and very poor depending on location and service.
    One thing that did surprise me is the sparcity of fully accessible hote rooms with walk in showers etc. ie Not easy to find a room.
  7. Justin Knox says:
    Thank you for the help. My family has had a trip planned to New York for quite a while, but my mom got injured recently and will be in a wheelchair for a while. I am relieved to hear that we may be able to follow through with out trip still. I am happy to hear that things like the Empire State Building and the cruises are wheelchair accessible. Those are two of the things she is hoping to do most.

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