Disability news

Paris metro service lacks accessibility ahead of Paralympic Games

woman in a wheelchair boarding a train on Paris metro service

Paris has done little to improve its accessibility on the underground train network ahead of the Paralympics this summer.

That’s the concern raised by APF France Handicap who call the Metro system “absolutely scandalous” and a “big black spot” on the city’s games legacy.

Before Paris was chosen to hold this year's global event in 2017 organisers were promising "accessible infrastructure and attitudes befitting the most visited country on Earth".

Overground things aren’t looking ‘too’ bad, shuttle buses and accessible taxis will provide transport for disabled visitors - but overall Paris has done nothing to improve the city’s access.

Nicolas Mérille, APF's national advisor on universal accessibility, told BBC News: "The legacy is very, very weak.

"And obviously the big black spot is the Metro."

TikTok influencer Arthur Baucheron has been selected to be a torchbearer ahead of the Paralympic Games, but the way things are at the moment it will be virtually impossible for him to take the metro to the stadiums.

He told the BBC: "It's really complicated to go from point A to point B without using a taxi, for example, but that's more expensive and we don't all have the money to take a taxi every time we need to go somewhere.”

Out of the 16 Metro lines, only one provides lifts, step-free access and no gaps between trains and the platforms.

On a plus side Parisian authorities have invested €125m [£107m] to make all the city’s buses accessible so they can carry two wheelchair users each.

Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, expressed his disappointment in the lack of access provided on Paris’ metro system.

"We understand a degree of frustration not having the Metro, but we also like to highlight a positive outcome and legacy from these Games, which is to invest in the bus transport system, making it accessible," he said.

A spokesperson for the RATP Group, which operates public transport in Paris, said the Metro network is "very old and one of the densest in the world" ,making it difficult and expensive to make any significant changes.

[ Paris Paralympic Games takes place from 28th August to 8th September 2024. ]

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