Montrealers who use adapted public transit provided by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) can once again ride along with a companion, starting September 30th.
According to the transit authority, people can reserve their transport as of September 28th, but caution users they might face delays.
“Since we signed an agreement with the eight taxi providers that are responsible for 88% of trips, the number of vehicles for adapted transport has increased and that is what allows us to announce the return of optional companions,” said in a statement Marie-Claude Léonard, the STM’s general director.
“We are making an extra step in the right direction in order to re-establish or zero-rejections policy.”
Léonard said that since the end of August until now, the STM went from having 500 available drivers to 600.
Since Aug. 15, the STM banned companions from riding with adapted transit users, except for those aged 14 and under.
On Sept. 6, companions were allowed but only for medical appointments.
Advocates for people living with disabilities condemned the move, calling it an example of systemic ableism.
“One word: relief,” said user Sandra Gualtieri, reacting to the news. “The restrictions lasted 45 days, but it seems longer. I think the timing is a bit coincidental, right before the voting. Whatever it is, I see this as a victory.”
The STM blamed ongoing taxi driver shortages and vehicles but now they say a deal concluded on Aug. 31, with taxi companies from whom they subcontract the service, will allow them to return to their original policy.
The transit authority had also reduced the number of longer trips outside of the island of Montreal. They now say they will be increasing that number without giving more details.
“We are very conscious of the considerable impacts this exceptional situation has had on our clientele and I can assure you that all of the STM’s teams, including our partners, are mobilized to solve this as soon as possible,” Léonard added.
As for the Oct. 3 provincial election, users can reserve their rides as of Sept. 28 and are allowed a companion.
The service provider will also be available to wait for 30 minutes to allow clients to exercise their right to vote.
–With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter
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