Chennai: Differently abled people face numerous hurdles while using the metro rail services in the city; right from entering the station, to buying tickets, passing through the AFC gates, boarding the trains, and finally exiting the stations. An access audit by Disability Rights Alliance (DRA) in the two newly opened stations Thiruvottiyur Theradi and Wimco Nagar depot revealed that several concerns raised with CMRL years ago to make the metro facility disabled-friendly remain unresolved.
R Sathish Kumar of Gowrivakkam, a wheelchair user, said commuting in a metro rail is a difficult task. He said it was difficult for a wheelchair-bound person to access the ticket counter and the AFC gates. The gap between the train door and the platform makes it hard to enter or exit trains in a wheelchair, he said, adding it’s also difficult to hold the grabrail in the train as it is not at armrest level. “They could install a ramp which rolls out when the train stops. Instead, we are offered assistance from a staff. We cannot expect such support every time. I want to travel on my own and for that they need to address these issues during the construction stage itself,” he said.
Shailesh, who has low vision, said there was no ramp in one of the entry points at Nandanam station, no tactile path guiding them at the entry points, tiles are slippery and a lack of colour contrast in the metro rail made it difficult to differentiate between the floor and the seat.
The members of DRA said a few issues had been fixed in the new stations. The space between AFC gates have been widened to benefit wheelchair users, better steel grating on the platform to prevent canes from getting stuck and seating on the platform with handrails. But many other issues remain unresolved.
A metro rail official said they would launch QR-code ticketing machines where differently abled people can purchase tickets from a station staff. “We can also place the QR code scanner in the AFC gates at a height accessible for wheelchair users,” the official said.