“Changing Society”

“Changing Society”
STM waiting area

Ascenseurs Maxi and Peelle work with STM to realize a system that welcomes people with disabilities.

For The Peelle Co. Ltd., providing glass passenger elevator entrances and car doors to Ascenseurs Maxi Inc. for five Société de transport de Montréal (STM) station elevators was a win-win.  According to Michael J. Ryan, Peelle vice president of Business Development, that’s because the work — taking place over the past four years — not only helped Maxi deliver an ideal product to its customer and, in turn, provide accessibility for people with disabilities, but also led Peelle to expand its product line. Prior to the STM job, Peelle’s elevator entrances were manufactured in either regular or powder-coated stainless steel. The Brampton, Ontario-based company has now added glass to the mix.

Part of an expansive CAD110-million (US$89.39 million) accessibility project that came in several years late and CAD30 million (US$23.1 million) over budget, the five elevators were unveiled in June at a new tunnel that links the STM Vendôme Metro station to the McGill University Health Centre’s (MUHC) Glen site. The elevators are hydraulic machine-room-less units that each feature:

  • Travel distance of approximately 20 ft
  • 150 ft/min speed and 3000-lb capacity
  • Stainless-steel railing and kickplates
  • A camera system
  • French Braille fixtures
  • High-durability flooring
  • Glass cabs
  • Two car operating panels
  • A hot-dipped galvanized structure
  • Very low overhead design

Observing the Montreal metro system was built in the 1960s, STM Project Director Mahja Clour said the main challenge was the engineering involved in constructing a tunnel underneath the train tracks. The jobsite was not only above tracks, but surrounded by buildings, and had to operate without disrupting regular STM operations.

Both disabled advocates and STM officials say they are surprised that elevators and other handicapped-friendly features were not part of the plan from the beginning, especially since many MUHC patients are either temporarily or permanently disabled. In addition to the five elevators, the long-awaited tunnel — also known as the multimodal station — is now outfitted with wheelchair-friendly turnstiles. The tunnel/station provides easy access to the Vendôm Metro, the Exo commuter rail service, buses and, of course, MUHC. An added bonus is that MUHC patients, staff and visitors no longer have to brave cold winter weather because they can go directly to the hospital, said Dr. Pierre Gfeller, MUHC director-general.

The jobsite was not only above tracks, but surrounded by buildings, and had to operate without disrupting regular STM operations.

STM Board of Directors member Laurence Parent, who uses a wheelchair, said the upgrades will encourage parents with strollers, busy travelers and, most importantly, people with disabilities, to get out and use the system. “It means you will see more disabled people around, and I think that is how you change society,” Parent said.[2]

Funded by a mix of federal and provincial dollars, the new tunnel/station is one of 12 in the Montreal metropolitan area either recently completed or underway as part of STM’s Universal Accessibility initiative. The initiative also includes new desktop and mobile websites with information such as where new elevators have opened and which buses have extra space for wheelchairs.

Ascenseurs Maxi Technical Director Alex Volckaert told ELEVATOR WORLD the company previously delivered vertical-transportation solutions to STM for two underground garages, an administrative building, two transportation centers and six stations. Over the next two years, Ascenseurs Maxi is committed to delivering elevators for 12 additional stations: Mont-Royal, Villa-Maria, Angrignon, Jolicoeur, Places-des-Arts, McGill, Éduard-Montpetit, D’Iberville, Outremont, Place-Saint-Henri, Berri-UQAM and Agrandissement de l’Atelier de la voie Youville. The company’s expertise was also instrumental in establishing requirements for the extension of STM’s Blue Line, Volckaert said. “We’re always committed to working hand-in-hand with STM’s professionals to ensure they have the right product for the right application,” he stated.

STM aims to make 30 of its 68 stations accessible by 2025, and the whole network by 2028.


References

[1] “Universal Accessibility Priorities: Commissioning of Elevators at Préfontaine Station and Revamped Universal Accessibility Website Section,” STM press release, November 5, 2021

[2] Jelowicki, Amanda. “Long-awaited Vendôme Tunnel Will Finally Open Monday,” Global News, May 27, 2021.

Elevator World Associate Editor

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