Montreal wheelchair users seek $100 million in suit against transit authority
Published Wednesday, April 15, 2015 9:16PM EDT
Montreal wheelchair users are itching for a green light for their $100 million class action lawsuit to force the STM transit authority to make metro stations and city buses fully accessible.
The suit, if approved by the courts, would ask for $5,000 for 20,000 possible wheelchair-using claimants. It's similar to ones that have been set in motion in other North American cities but have always ended with out-of-court settlements.
Those out-of-court settlements are considered victories by advocates for those with disabilities, since they forced transit agencies to improve accessibility.
In the current system in Montreal, wheelchair users are shuttled around on the dedicated Adapted Transit network, however that requires advance bookings which makes travel difficult on short notice.
Nibila Nouara told CTV Montreal Wednesday that her inability to take buses and metros prevents her from going places with her two teen daughters. “I can’t take the public transit with my daughters, it’s very frustrating,” she said.
One Adapted Transit user said that he has known both worlds and the non-wheelchair world of public transit is much easier.
“I wasn’t always dependent on the wheelchair to go around, so I know the experience of the metro and the bus. Public transit can be a huge asset in everyday life,” said Martin Juneau.
Renovations are slowly being made to install elevators in metro stations. Last December Champs de Mars began the eighth of 68 metro stations to be so equipped. The elevators cost about $15 million each to install, with three quarters of that sum paid by the province.
Jean Talon should also be equipped with an elevator later this year, while Snowdon, Rosemont and Place D’Armes are slated to become elevator-equipped in 2016.
STM Chairman Philippe Schnobb is urging patience. "I can understand that it might not be the speed that people would like us to be doing it but we're doing things,” he said.