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Thread: Bummed by buses

  1. #1

    Bummed by buses

    this is an article appearing in this week's edition of the Mirror, which is a weekly paper catering more to the hip/streetwise crowd of Montreal. its not super in-depth, but its a spark... i'm building a bonfire with this one.

    Wheelchair-bound traveller says Novabus woes endure


    Anybody out on the Main near Prince Arthur on September 1 at 2 a.m. might have been entertained by an incident involving a wheelchair-bound man blocking a city bus. The Tiananmen-Square-like act of civil disobedience was not the drunken anarchy that often rules the Main; rather it was the culmination of 30 months of frustration for Simon Lortie, 25, who has been trying-with partial success-to ride the city's supposedly wheelchair-accessible Novabuses.

    "I tried to get on the bus at Sherbrooke that night and the driver told me the ramp doesn't work," says Lortie. "I politely asked the driver to try it because I knew it was functional, being one of the new series of buses." The driver balked at his request and then refused to call his supervisor, as drivers are meant to in such instances. Instead, the Novabus roared off with Lortie wheeling along in pursuit. When Lortie caught up to the bus at the next red, a further standoff ended with him lined up directly in front of the bus. Lortie refused a police request to move, and the passengers eventually had to transfer to another bus.

    The standoff symbolizes Lortie's frustration with a much-publicized effort to accommodate wheelchair-bound individuals on city buses. The effort has so far produced lamentable results, according to Lortie, who reports having made 40 to 50 complaints to the authorities this year alone.

    On the occasions that the hydraulic system and ramp work correctly and he experiences no driver resistance, Lortie says problems still arise. Although it's clearly indicated on promotional material that wheelchair users who ride city buses are only required to pay by cheque at a later date and on an honour-system basis, Lortie says he has had drivers demand he pay for the ride immediately. "One said, 'I'm sorry, even blind people have to pay.'"

    Lortie says he has constantly missed stops because a special ringer for the wheelchair users often doesn't work. "I've had this button pop out on me, fall out of its socket, and sometimes it's not even there or it's loose and unglued," says Lortie.

    So far, only about an estimated 20 wheelchair users have switched from regularly travelling on the service's adapted transit system to using Novabuses, according to Odile Paradis, mouthpiece for the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). She says most of Montreal's wheelchair-bound public transit users opt to ride on the 88-vehicle adapted transport fleet, a service that requires advance booking. Some 1.3-million were made aboard the adapted transport system last year, she notes.

    Paradis says that 100 of the city's 150 bus lines have become wheelchair-accessible this year, with the aim being to eventually make them all wheelchair welcome. But she admits that several years ago, a temporary and desperate need for more buses required the STM to order some buses that were far from wheelchair-accommodating.

    "There was a big problem with the maintenance of the ramps," she says. "When we got the Novabuses, there were ramps that didn't work, weren't installed or missing pieces. We put a lot of effort into fixing them."

    Lortie says that widespread wheelchair-accessible travel remains a dream. "They're actively trying to expand the accessible bus network but it's not completely functional or reliable, and therefore it's a gamble for anybody who tries to take them," he says.
    (note: picture of me lookin pissed)

    ~Velcro holds my life together~

  2. #2
    This article and picture are about our own 'Meson'. Good Luck with your quest, meson.


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