June 16, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Disabled | In REM, “aberrant” emergency protocol

Disabled |  In REM, "aberrant" emergency protocol

The emergency protocol for people with disabilities is “disgusting” at Réseau Express Métropolitan (REM), a customer with cerebral palsy condemned after noticing his expense during Saturday's service disruption.


What is there to know?

A consumer with a disability denounces the weakness of emergency plans in REM.

The Exo operator admitted that a flaw had been discovered in the application of the succession plan.

CDPQ Infra says it is ready to make corrections in the coming weeks.

“Actually, REM does not have an emergency plan for the disabled. No chance. There is none. It is absurd that service for people with reduced mobility is almost non-existent. However, it is a large transportation system. There should be clear measures,” Christoph Rudiz said in an interview Press.

Last Saturday, when he was trying to return to Brossard station, from where he was taking a convenient transport service to his home in Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu, the release of smoke near Île-des-Sœurs station caused a prolonged breakdown at 8 p.m.

As per protocol, bus shuttles were deployed between Brossard and Central Station. The problem: These buses are “not universally accessible, even as they claim,” laments Mr. Rudij.

“It was 9:30 p.m., and I waited for a while when a REM agent confirmed that there were no shuttles available, telling me that it was crowded anyway. Told to order paratransit. But you have to reserve 24 hours in advance! », relating to the respective principal.

Ultimately, Exo Carrier, which operates paratransit services, “went out of its way to find me a driver,” Christoph said. “I thank them, but this is not normal and it is unacceptable that we are at this moment. For people in wheelchairs like me, it is completely possible and even necessary to have taxis on standby around the REM during a breakdown. »

“Lives are at stake”

This is not the first time that this problem has arisen on the light rail line. Since its inception in July, several elevator breakdowns have raised concerns, particularly from the Regroupment des activists pour l'inclusion au Quebec (RAPLIQ).

“We asked REM what their emergency protocols were in the event of a major problem and each time, they refused to disclose it to us for strategic reasons, ensuring that everything was in order. To be honest, on our side, we never believed it,” said Steven Laperriere, general director of Raplic.

For now, “the wagons are available, but everything else around them, not really,” he says.

We are responsible for breakdown due to faulty elevator or any other technical fault. And when lives are at stake, that's a big deal.

Steven Laperriere

According to him, the key is to “be more informed and ready to respond to any situation.” “Until it actually happens, we can't say that REM will really be available to everyone,” emphasized the CEO, who called on CDPQ Infra to conduct more regular simulations. “Otherwise, the plan is just a mess. »

Christoph Rudiz agrees. “This is our first priority. If there's a fire at REM, what happens? said the father of two, who also owns a store on Sainte-Catherine Street in downtown Montreal.

“Error in Application of Succession Plan”

At Exolo, spokesman Jean-Maxime Saint-Hilaire admitted last Saturday that “there appears to be an error in the application of the succession plan”.

“In this exceptional case, Exo Paratransit vehicles are authorized to cross the bridge to pick up customers at one of the REM stations in Montreal. We have made corrections with our teams and our partners so that a similar situation does not happen again,” he maintains.

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“All exo employees involved in the situation made a sincere effort to help the user reach their destination,” he assured. “Real-time modification of paratransit vehicle circuits presents many challenges. Our employees do their best to accommodate last-minute requests while minimizing the consequences for other customers,” explained Mr. Saint-Hilaire.

CDPQ Infra, for its part, said it “knows that service disruption can be very difficult for a person with reduced mobility”.

“Saturday night […], as envisaged in the relief plan, the available shuttles are designed for people with reduced mobility. On the other hand, we know that the access to the city center terminus where the recovery plan shuttles are is to improve the negotiations, signs and accessibility between partners associated with public transport, said the Deputy Director for Media Relations. Francis Labey said he was ready to “identify possible solutions and improvements.”

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