Wheelchair Accessibility of Milan’s Public Transportation

We analyzed the wheelchair accessibility of Milan’s public transportation in Summer 2022.

Milan’s website (“ATM”) explains the wheelchair accessible routes for the public transportation. The website is pretty robust, has good instructions, and useful accessibility tables that charts that you can download at the bottom of the website.

But that sadly our good experience ended at the website. We found the public transportation to be surprisingly difficult, unreliable, and mostly inaccessible. So much so that we gave up on it, and decided to walk/scoot everywhere. It was a snag in our plans and made for some long, hot walks that diminished our experiences at The Last Supper, the Teatro alla Scala, and the Duomo di Milano.

Tip: Although I cannot personally confirm because we did not use them, the Hop-On, Hop-Off buses looked to be wheelchair accessible and their website says that they are accessible. We typically avoid tour buses because we like our own hours/schedules and can often do the same routes for cheaper on public transportation. But we have had good experiences with Hop-On, Hop-Off in Waikiki, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, and they may have been the better option in Milan as well.

The Good Start to Accessibility

We planned to take two above-ground trains from the Hyatt Centric to The Last Supper. This was about a 2-mile walk, and so the above-ground trains were the best option. We had also seen them go by in our prior scouting of the area, and the newer cars looked to be accessible.

We boarded the first train a block from our hotel. It was a newer train, and was running on a line that was supposed to be fully accessible. The train was flat with the curb, and had a minimal gap between the car and the curb. There was a designated seating area for wheelchairs, call buttons to signal a stop and/or communicate with the driver, and a strap to put around the chair to secure it. The ride was pretty rough with a decent amount of shaking and jerking, so much so that my wife had to help me brace during the ride.

Tip: I had pre-downloaded the ATM app, and was able to purchase and activate day passes for my wife and me. The app was user friendly, and made purchasing and activating tickets easy.

And that was the last of the good experiences.

The Rest of the Story…

Accessibility Fail 1

When we reached our stop, we pushed the button and the driver extended the ramp for us. It was so steep that my scooter bottomed out, but my momentum was able to push me over and out.

wheelchair ramp to go from tram to platform

Accessibility Fail 2

The platform onto which we had unloaded did not have a curb cut and was not connected to a sidewalk. It was an island that served as a stop, but you had to step down to get to the street, and then back up to get to the next stop for other lines. So, we put down our portable ramp and made a makeshift route for us to get down, cross traffic, and then back up onto a sidewalk. We had to be careful of oncoming trains and car traffic.

our portable ramp was put down to bridge platform to street level (curb without a cut)

Accessibility Fail 3

The next stop we needed to get to was a few blocks down, so we got onto a sidewalk. But the stop was another island with no curb cuts for it. So, we again put down our temporary ramp and I was able to get up that away…again dodging traffic in doing so.

Accessibility Fail 4

We waited for half an hour for the right line to come. The line was supposed to come every 15 minutes, and had a mix of old (nonaccessible cars) and new (accessible cars). After the half hour, we saw one old car approaching us with no new ones to be found. We only had half an hour left before our reservation for The Last Supper, so we decided to just run the mile from the stop. We made it, but barely…and were hot, sweaty, and exhausted.

Accessibility Fail 4.5

To our chagrin, we saw many city buses that looked like they were wheelchair accessible (and air conditioned–it was a hot day!). But we could not figure out their routes or their stops. Google Maps was not showing them, and our internet searching did not help. But this may be our fail as those buses may have worked nicely…if we could have figured out how to use them.

Accessibility Fail 5

After our day of running around Milan in the heat, we thought about taking the underground subway from the Teatro alla Scala to Milano Centrale. However, the stop at the Teatro alla Scalla did not appear to have an elevator to get down to the subway platform. And the stop at the Duomo appeared to have a platform that could go down the stairs, which I generally distrust (based on a tumultuous history with them). Milano Centrale, however, does have an elevator for its stop, and would have been a great terminus.

In short, we struggled with the wheelchair accessibility of Milan’s public transportation.

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