Montreal

Elevators inaugurated in Montreal Metro

The inauguration of two new elevators means Montreal's Metro system is becoming more accessible to those with reduced mobility, but some wheelchair users say more needs to be done to improve access.

The inauguration of two new elevators means Montreal's metro system is becoming more accessible to those with reduced mobility, but some wheelchair users say more needs to be done to improve access.

The new elevators were unveiled Monday morning at the Lionel-Groulx and Berri-UQAM stations. The stations on the orange line are the first of five metro stations on the island of Montreal to be outfitted with elevators.

The Montreal Transit Corporation says the $40-million plan, which includes the renovation of the Côte-Vertu, Bonaventure and Henri-Bourassa stations, is expected to be completed by 2011.

Transit chairman Michel Labrecque estimated it could be another 25 years before all of the metro's stations are wheelchair accessible.

'I'm really happy that Montreal's taking small steps … but if they're going to do it they should do it all or nothing.'—Nathalie Cinman, Montrealer who uses wheelchair

"We are building that in stations that were built in the mid-60s and the engineering and architectural challenge — it's really hard."

The delay is unacceptable for Montrealer Nathalie Cinman. She says it won't be practical for her to use the metro until all stations are wheelchair accessible.

Cinman has a genetic brittle-bone disease and uses a wheelchair.

Though Toronto's subway system is older than the Montreal Metro, Cinman says half of Toronto's 60 stations are already wheelchair accessible.

"I'm really happy that Montreal's taking small steps … but if they're going to do it they should do it all or nothing," Cinman said.

Laval stations not fully accessible

The three Laval metro stations also located on the orange line were equipped with equipped with elevators when they opened in 2007.

But Éric Fortin of the Association Lavalloise pour le transport adapté, a group representing adapted transit users in Laval, says wheelchair users still require a special ramp to board the trains.

Fortin said users have experienced delays of up to 45 minutes waiting for transit staff to find and deploy the ramps.

Labrecque said that problem will be ironed out when the transit agency gets new metro cars in a few years.

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