Group fights to launch $1.5B lawsuit against STM, AMT

A person with reduced mobility enters a Montreal metro station.
A person with reduced mobility enters a Montreal metro station. Global News

MONTREAL – After years of fighting to make public transit more accessible in Montreal, a group of about 20,000 plaintiffs representing disabled people is turning to the courts.

“It seems that we are considered like second class citizens and we pay the same taxes,” said Linda Gauthier, president of RAPLIQ – a group representing disabled people.

“Our fare [for] the Opus card, it’s the same price for us, but we don’t have the same services.”

The group insists that for those with limited mobility, for the most part, services are inaccessible.

And so, they want approval to launch a class-action lawsuit in the sum of $1.5 billion against the STM, AMT and the city of Montreal.

Gilles Gareau, a lawyer representing the group, said the suit is asking for $75,000 in damages, per person.

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“We’re asking mainly more for moral damages than punitive damages,” he said.

“But the bottom line is to get it accessible.”

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Only 10 of the STM’s 68 metro stations are equipped with elevators.

READ MORE: Snowdon metro station more accessible thanks to 3 new elevators

Disable people have access to four of the AMT’s 13 stations on the new Mascouche line, but out of the AMT’s five older lines, the group insists not one of the 52 stations is fully accessible.

READ MORE: Access an issue as new Vendôme-MUHC tunnel opens

“If you look at Toronto, Toronto is going to be accessible by 2020, that’s four years from now,” said Gareau.

“In terms of comparisons in terms of metro, depth of the stations and all, Toronto’s a good example.”

According to the group, the goal of the suit is to make all STM and AMT lines fully accessible.

They said they accept a 20-year time frame to see that happen.

“There’s no way, in 2016, that it shouldn’t be accessible for everybody. It is in other countries and provinces like Ontario, because they have a law.”

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On Tuesday, lawyers representing the STM, AMT and the city of Montreal refused to comment on the case.

Hearings will continue on Wednesday.