Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

Follow Up Post About Lack of Accessibility of STL Busses.

On 16 septembre, I was refused access to a bus of the Société des Transports de Laval (STL). I immediately lodged a complaint and also blogged about it. The following week, I spoke to M. Sylvain Yelle, Director for the exploitation of the STL. He offered the STL’s excuses and we spoke about accessibility issues with the network, and what they are doing to resolve them. M. Yelle told me the two biggest issues are a lack of accessible busses, as well as a shortage of sidewalks in Laval. The STL plans to be fully accessible by 2028!!!

Mr Yelle said that the refusal was against the regulations of the STL and presented the Society’s apologies, which I accept.

He explained that despite the purchase of multiple "accessible" busses, the STL hasn’t been able to make its network accessible. There are two major issues:

  1. Lack of sidewalks
  2. Unreliable existing busses.

Lack of sidewalks

Approximately 50% of bus stops for the STL are where there aren’t sidewalks. Without sidewalks, the busses aren’t able to deploy the ramps. Which means that even if the bus ramps worked all the time, there would be at least half the stops that couldn’t be used.

And the STL says there’s nothing it can do about this. It’s the City’s responsibility to add sidewalks, and curb cuts. Indeed, the City must have a great part to play there. But I can’t help thinking that it’s quite convenient to explain poor access.

Existing busses

The STL began purchasing lowered busses with ramps int he back in 1997. These busses were poorly conceived. The system is unreliable. In 25% of cases there have been failures and the system didn’t work. This led to many problems:

  • Wheelchair users unable to get on the bus
  • Wheelchair users unable to get off the bus
  • Bus stuck, requiring a second bus to be dispatched and all passengers delayed
  • Etc

New Busses

The STL began purchasing busses with flip out ramps at the front of the bus in 2010. All the busses purchased since then are accessible. They purchae approximately 20 new busses every year. The bus fleet will go from 237 busses in 2011 to 380 in 2028.

2028 – a fully accessible network for the STL

According to the accessibility plan for the STL, the network will be fully accessible in 2028. This plan was approved by the Ministry of Transport of Québec.

2028. Yep, the year two thousand and twenty eight.

In my last post, I was asking if they thought it acceptable to wait 5 or 10 years before the network was accessible. I was so wrong, so very wrong. It isn’t 10 years, it is over 15 years. FIFTEN years.

I understand that it is expensive and not easy to adapt a network of busses like that. But I’ll admit that learning the network won’t be fully accessible before 2028 leaves me rather unhappy. We could think that none of the people involved in the plan depend on accessible public transit.

Download the STL accessibility plan (in French only).