Moscow plans better disability access by 2018
News, July 7 2011
Moscow is determined to be more disabled-friendly by 2018 – but it is attracting tourists rather than helping residents that is driving plans forward.
Russia’s capital has a bad reputation for accessibility issues, with public transport and homes coming under fire in recent weeks.
But a meeting of city bosses on Wednesday focused more on improving access for visitors – with an eye on the fact that 11 per cent of the tourist market in Europe is made up of disabled people.
According to Tatyana Melyakova, of tour company Invatur: “Moscow cannot even provide proper accommodation for disabled guests.
“There are few suitable hotel rooms, and groups have to settle for a few rooms in different parts of town,” she told Moskovskiye Novosti.
She added that the current situation made it impossible for disabled tourists to visit the city without able-bodied help, and even guided tours were limited to not more than 10 routes.
Meanwhile costs are 20 per cent higher than those for a standard tour.
There are plans to improve matters: new buses are promised as part of a public transport overhaul, and officials say that by 2014 these will be on the roads.
But efforts to make the metro more wheelchair friendly will take longer, with 2018 earmarked as the likely date for widespread changes above and below ground to enhance access for those with mobility problems.
However, with the chairman of Moscow’s tourism committee Sergei Shpilko admitting that he “doesn’t take disabled people into account” at yesterday’s meeting, it is clear that there is some way to go to ensure that the city is truly open to all.