Fifteen grants totaling $686 million will support accessibility retrofits at public transit stations in nine states in the first round of awards from a program funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced the grant awards Dec. 19.

FTA awarded the grants through its All Stations Accessibility Program, which can cover up to 80% of the costs of planning or building rail station accessibility projects. Those retrofits can include building ramps and elevators, modifying platforms and relocating infrastructure as needed to meet or exceed construction standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“America still has hundreds of legacy transit rail and subway stations that do not have ramps or elevators or other needed ways for people with disabilities to get to the train,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said during a call with reporters. “And we have so many cities where rail is an essential part of getting around the community, which means that people with disabilities spend far more time and spend far more money just to go about their lives.”

The grants will support projects in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington state, according to FTA.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority will receive the largest share of funds. MTA’s $254.5 million grant will go toward projects at three subway stations in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx. 

The next-largest awards include $118 million for Chicago Transit Authority, $66.6 million across two grants for Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corp., $66.6 million for Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and $56.1 million for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. New Jersey Transit Corp. won the largest number of grants, with three totaling $34.1 million. 

CTA will use its grant to modernize three L train stations. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who uses a wheelchair since losing her legs in the Iraq War, joined Buttigieg to announce the funding. She said she cannot currently ride the L because it is not accessible—“one of [her] biggest frustrations.” But the agency is working to make all its stations accessible. 

“I can’t wait to finally ride the newly accessible L in Chicago,” Duckworth said.

There are still more than 900 “legacy” transit stations in the U.S. that were built before 1990 and are not fully accessible, according to FTA. 

FTA received $905 million in funding requests for the accessibility program, officials say. The IIJA provides $1.75 billion for the grant program through 2026. The newly announced awards are being provided under both 2022 and 2023 funding.