The downtown stop for the McGill shuttle which brings students between the downtown and MacDonald campuses has been moved once again. It will now permanently pick up and drop off on the south side of Sherbrooke Street, just outside the 688 Sherbrooke building, according to an email from McGill Facilities Management and Ancillary Services on June 12. Due to construction projects around McGill’s downtown campus preparing for celebrations of the 375th anniversary of Montreal, the downtown stop for the intercampus shuttle had been temporarily located on Avenue du President Kennedy.
In January, the stop was moved from its location in front of the Roddick Gates in response to the construction of the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne project and to accommodate a redesigned Sherbrooke Street. The Promenade is a pedestrian footpath, that, when complete, will run from the Saint Lawrence River to Mount Royal.
Because of Sherbrooke’s new configuration, the inter-campus shuttle can no longer stop by Roddick Gates on the north side of the street, according to Adrian Nicolicescu, senior project manager, Construction, Facilities Management and Ancillary Services.
“The objective was to find a location as close as possible to lower campus to make [the bus stop] accessible to as many users as possible,” Nicolicescu said. “The new location, just west of University Street, has the added advantage of providing shelter for the users, as they will be able to wait for the bus under the roof to the entrance of the 688 Sherbrooke building.”
The City of Montreal decreased the number of traffic lanes on the north side of Sherbrooke to widen the sidewalk for increased pedestrian walking space. Wider sidewalks is just one of the features of the larger Promenade Fleuve-Montagne, which runs along several streets downtown. The city also planted over 150 trees, included rest areas along the path, and redesigned the crossing intersections as part of the project. The route was chosen to showcase Montreal’s cultural heritage and landscapes.
According to The Montreal Gazette, the project cost the city $55.5 million, of which $13.1 million went to underground infrastructure repairs. The city originally projected that the Promenade would be complete in May 2017 and cost $31.46 million.
In spite of the new shuttle stop’s close proximity to lower campus, the Montreal weather will continue to pose obstacles which make the shuttle hard to reach for any student. Icy sidewalks is just one example. For regular shuttle user Carlos Sandino, U2 Science, accessing the bus stop’s temporary location became especially difficult during an ice-storm this past winter.
“It was like being on a skating-rink anywhere you went,” Sandino said. “On an incline there was just no control. Even for me, going down the hill on President Kennedy was almost impossible, and my balance is pretty good.”
However, students with limited mobility face one constant obstacle, irrespective of weather conditions, to the accessibility of Macdonald campus. While the inter-campus shuttle is free for students and staff, it lacks ramps and offers limited legroom in each seat.
McGill currently allocates $400,000 per year toward making McGill’s facilities more accessible, according to The Office for Students with Disabilities’ (OSD). In the 2014-2015 academic year, 5 per cent of students registered at the OSD reportedly had motor impairments.
Currently, an Adapted Mobility shuttle transports students with motor impairments across McGill’s Downtown campus, but the university provides no such shuttle connecting Downtown with the MacDonald Campus. For now, one alternative for students who have limited mobility and study at the MacDonald Campus is the STM Paratransit service. At the student rate of $50 per month, it provides door-to-door public transit service by reservation.
“The OSD has worked closely with Facilities throughout the construction project to ensure that accessibility is considered [for the new stop],” Terri Phillips, director at the OSD wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune.
Moving the bus stop closer to lower campus is a step toward making the bus more universally accessible for students. Furthermore, it allows the University to continue its coexistence with Montreal's ever-changing cityscape.