Earlier this month, the Budapest Election Committee approved a referendum question submitted by Socialist city councillor Csaba Horváth on ensuring wheelchair accessibility of stations on Budapest’s third metro line during its upgrade phase.
The referendum question refers to a law enacted in 1997 which was also in force in 2007, when the upgrade of the second metro line was completed, Tarlós told public news channel M1. This referendum was initiated by a politician who was part of the municipal council leadership at that time when only a single elevator was built on the second metro line and only a single station was made fully accessible, Tarlós said, referring to Horváth and the previous city leadership.
Metro line 3 “is in terrible condition” and for decades nobody did anything about it, the mayor said.
Even the city council could not do anything about it until 2015 when the government took over the debt that had been accumulated by Budapest transport company BKV up until 2010, he added.
This issue is not about a lack of intent from the city council’s part, Tarlós insisted, adding that the Budapest leadership had “fought for a long time” for the metro upgrade and the project costs a lot of money.
The mayor said he and the city council leadership will look into whether an elevator could be built at the Dózsa György Road station, which would cost close to 1 billion forints (EUR 3.2m).
On Wednesday, Horváth announced that nine opposition parties had joined forces to launch a signature drive for holding a local referendum on ensuring the accessibility of metro line 3.
Horváth’s referendum question reads: “Do you support ensuring the full accessibility of all stations of the M3 metro line during its upgrade in 2017-2020 in line with the provisions prescribed in Section 2 (1) of Act LXXVIII of 1997?”
Tarlós stressed that he was not blocking a referendum, because Act LXXVIII of 1997 on the Formation and Protection of the Built Environment does not specify that elevators need to be built in order to ensure accessibility. Even if the referendum is valid and successful, it would still not mandate the construction of elevators, the mayor said. There is more than one technical solution for carrying out the metro upgrade so that it is in line with the 1998 law on equality and the rights of people with disabilities, he added.