The doors of the metro stations: first barrier to accessibility

Montréal, August 6, 2020 – When we talk about universal accessibility in the Montréal metro, the discussion invariably focuses on the presence of elevators in the stations. But what is the point of having an elevator inside if, outside, it is impossible for an elderly or mobility-impaired person to open the door to the station entrance?

It is important to know that the “piston effect”, i.e. the air pressure differential due to speeding trains in the tunnels, makes it difficult to open the doors to the entrance buildings. This, despite the fact that these “butterfly doors” were designed to reduce the piston effect by allowing more air to escape when they are open. 

During visits last winter, Ensemble Montréal observed that only 22 out of the 68 stations in the Montréal metro system were equipped with motorized butterfly doors, which allow for automatic opening by means of a push-button.

“That's very little, especially when you consider that they are used by tens of thousands of travellers every day. Even people who don't have problems moving around have to work even harder to get these doors open. Now imagine what it must be like for people with reduced mobility or seniors. Or even someone with a stroller,” said Ms. Chantal Rossi, City Councillor for the District of Ovide-Clermont.

That is why the Ensemble Montréal party will be tabling a motion at the next municipal council to urge the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) to implement a program to ensure that every butterfly door in the metro system is motorized by 2024.

It should be noted that, as part of its station refurbishment program, the STM is already replacing butterfly doors, but only during work involving the addition of elevators. In its 2016-2020 Universal Accessibility Development Plan, the STM plans to equip 44 butterfly doors with a motorized system by 2025, out of a total of more than 300 butterfly doors throughout the metro network. According to Ensemble Montréal, it would be appropriate to create a slightly more ambitious program for door automation.

“We know that the STM has made a lot of efforts in recent years to meet the needs of universal accessibility in the metro, notably by installing elevators in different stations. We don't deny that there is a serious issue at stake here. But let's be frank: the first obstacle to accessibility in the metro remains the opening of the entrance doors to the stations! We have to tackle this right now and ensure that every station is equipped with them in the short term,” concluded Ms. Rossi.

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