Mobility rights group sues transit authorities over access issues

Click to play video: 'Disabled fight transit in courts'
Disabled fight transit in courts
WATCH ABOVE: A community organization that fights for the rights of the disabled is taking the Montreal transit authority to court. Global's Elysia Bryan-Baynes reports. – Apr 19, 2017

Dozens of people filed into a Montreal courtroom Wednesday for the start of  hearings into public transit accessibility.

Mobility Rights group RAPLIQ is asking the court for the right to sue the AMT and STM.

The suit, if approved, would seek $75,000 per complainant in the group.

READ MORE: Human rights commission rules insufficient complaints against STM, disability rights groups disappointed

“That is for not having access and for being treated liked second class citizens, ” RAPLIQ lawyer Gilles Gareau said Wednesday.

At the courthouse there was no shortage of stories from people who try to use the system but often don’t have access.

“I was living on Berri in the 1960s when they started to build the metro and I couldn’t get on until 2009,” Gordon Sutherland told Global News Wednesday.

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Eleven out of 68 stations currently have elevators.

READ MORE: Montreal metro stations to get overhaul in bid to increase accessibility

The plan is to have 14 elevators installed by 2022 and to have the entire system up to date by 2036.

“No matter what the STM says, people are losing job opportunities, they can’t go to medical appointments,” RAPLIQ Vice-President Steven Laperrière said.

READ MORE: Accessibility activists demonstrate on Montreal metro’s 50th birthday

France Rochon has been waiting for access to the system for over 20 years.

“I’ve travelled outside of Canada and taken metros and compared to other places like California and Vancouver, we’re lacking,” Rochon said.

Hearings continue on Thursday.

It could take months for a judge to decide whether the class action lawsuit should move ahead.

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