The all-new Mumbai Metro might be extremely convenient for people travelling from Versova and Ghatkopar, but the city’s newest suburban travel option is not friendly for persons with disabilities (PWDs). mid-day correspondents set out to travel on the Metro, with one of them posing as wheelchair-bound. And the ride was a tough one.

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Our correspondents try to climb the ramp at Asalpha station, which they managed with some effort. The  ramp does not begin at ground level and is raised, which causes problems. Pics/Nimesh Dave
Our correspondents try to climb the ramp at Asalpha station, which they managed with some effort. The  ramp does not begin at ground level and is raised, which causes problems. Pics/Nimesh Dave

Asalpha
Our journey began at Asalpha, where we found that the ramp for PWDs is difficult to navigate, since it is slightly elevated. We found that if a PWD does not have someone to help, it will be nearly impossible to get on the ramp

Jagruti Nagar
The next hurdle was at Jagruti Nagar, where there is no lift connecting the ground and the first floors. All Metro stations are on the second floor, and when we reached the first floor, we were told that the lift going to the ground floor was not functional.

Neither the lift at Jagruti Nagar, nor its approach road, is ready
Neither the lift at Jagruti Nagar, nor its approach road, is ready

The guards, while being empathetic to our situation, discussed and told us they couldn’t do anything about it. We were asked to go back to Asalpha, and reach our destination by road; we did so, as there was no other way out. However, one of the officials escorted us to the train’s door.

An official, after much deliberation with his colleagues, told us there was nothing they could do to help us reach the ground floor. He requested us to go back to Asalpha, but accompanied us till the train door
An official, after much deliberation with his colleagues, told us there was nothing they could do to help us reach the ground floor. He requested us to go back to Asalpha, but accompanied us till the train door

Saki Naka
We then alighted at Saki Naka and found that barricades erected near the ramps were too close to each other. It was impossible for the wheelchair to pass through the gap, but one could go around the barricades and climb up (or go down) the ramp.

Since barricades didn’t allow the wheelchair to go through on one end of Saki Naka station, we had to find a gap in the footpath to exit the station
Since barricades didn’t allow the wheelchair to go through on one end of Saki Naka station, we had to find a gap in the footpath to exit the station

Even though there were hardly 10-12 people on the platform, we had to wave out to the guards to ask for help in boarding the train. When we approached the ramp from the other end, two-wheelers had been parked right at its entry point, blocking it for wheelchairs. We had to tell the shopkeepers to remove their vehicles to let us through.

When we tried entering the station from the other end to check its accessibility, bikes were blocking the entry. We had to ask shopkeepers to remove the vehicles to let us through
When we tried entering the station from the other end to check its accessibility, bikes were blocking the entry. We had to ask shopkeepers to remove the vehicles to let us through

Azad Nagar
The gap between platform and train at Azad Nagar station is more than at other stations. We were quite apprehensive about boarding the train here, and had to skip a couple of trains before we felt comfortable enough.

The train tends to shake as it pulls into a station, causing the wheelchair to move about inside
The train tends to shake as it pulls into a station, causing the wheelchair to move about inside

Some people actually helped us get onto the train. Also, the train seems to shake a lot when it pulls into a station to halt. The wheelchair moves about inside due to this. Other than this, the footpath connecting to the lift is uneven, and it proves to be a rough ride for anyone on a wheelchair.

Versova
By the time we reached Versova, it was already past 6 pm and the crowds had swelled. Due to this, we couldn’t find any officials to tell us where the lift was.

Marol Naka
The situation is the worst here. Barricade posts placed on both sides of the footpath simply do not allow enough space for the wheelchair to pass through. We had to take the help of nearby shopkeepers to lift the chair off the footpath to make an exit.

Barricades on the footpath outside Marol Naka station do not have enough space for a wheelchair to pass through
Barricades on the footpath outside Marol Naka station do not have enough space for a wheelchair to pass through

It must be noted that the footpath and the road below the Metro corridor is the responsibility of the MMRDA. The agency has to maintain the footpath and also construct a ramp near the elevator so that PWDs can commute easily.