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Metro travel to get easier for disabled Beijingers
Liu Chang, China Daily (17 Aug 2004 05:31)

BEIJING, CHINA: Work will start in Beijing this month to make the city's metro stations more convenient for the capital's disabled residents.

The major focus of the work, which will initially take place on the city's No 1 and No 2 metro lines, will be on toilets, special paths for blind people, telephones, signs and elevators.

Xizhimen station on the No 2 metro line will be the first to be renovated, with the entire project due for completion by the end of next year.

Basins at the toilets in the 30 subway stations will be lowered to help people in wheelchairs. Railings will be equipped at two sides of every lavatory.

Special paths for the blind will be laid on all passageways in subway stations.

The height of public telephones in the stations will also be lowered to 1 metre.

Signs will be installed to clearly point out what seating is designated for the disabled and some signs will use braille, to help blind people find their way around.

A facility similar to a forklift truck will be installed at Xizhimen station to help people in wheelchairs get from one floor to another by simply pressing a button, the first one of its kind in China.

Sources with the Beijing Urban Construction Design Institute said that the layout for the renovation projects has been completed.

The whole renovation project will cost over 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million), including 500,000 yuan (US$60,000) for the work at Xizhimen.

Renovation work

The renovation work will be done during the night and the operation of the two subway lines will not be affected.

As the first two metro lines to be built in Beijing, the No 1 and No 2 lines have been operational for over 30 years.

The lack of barrier-free facilities has greatly inconvenienced the disabled, sources said.

The Beijing Municipal People's Congress - the local legislature - adopted the Beijing Regulation on Construction and Management of Barrier-free Facilities in April.

The regulation, which came into force in May, is the first ever local legislation on the issue in the country.

According to the regulation, public transport facilities should take the lead in adding facilities convenient for the disabled, as well as hospitals, banks, airports, railway stations, public toilets and parks.

Among the total population of Beijing - 14.7 million, 622,000 are disabled people and 1.9 million are senior citizens.

China's first special path for the blind was introduced on the city's Landianchang Street in 1988.

More than 3,000 buildings have so far been renovated in Beijing to make them more convenient for disabled people.

A total of 808 kilometres of special paths for the blind and 200 barrier-free public toilets have been built in the city.

But experts have pointed out that as an international metropolis and the city to host the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing still needs more barrier-free facilities.

(China Daily 08/17/2004 page3)

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