Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2015 Public Forum regarding Customer Information and Customer Service. These suggestions were submitted during the meeting, on comment forms, and in comments to TTC Customer Service. Customer comments are accompanied by a summary of the current status of each issue.

Customer Education on Accessibility

Comments:

“Clearly state what accessible seating is and who can and when they can use it. I know you use the blue seats now but people still are very reluctant to get out of them, even when I get on the subway with my cane and walk over to them.”

“Maybe some public outreach is needed. People need to know how to properly use the TTC.”

“I had no idea wheelchairs should get on regular TTC first. I do, however, observe drivers stopping before the stop, they're trying. Public pushes ahead and ignores drivers, even when drivers tell people to wait.”

“On most bus routes or where you wait to lower the ramp, people try to rush bus and don't give people using wheelchairs a chance to board.”

“Educate the public and have friendlier staff on the regular TTC.”

“Now that the children are free, I think there's a place for education in the school system by the TTC about riding on the TTC.”

Response:

We have placed decals above our Priority Seating areas which clearly indicate who these seats are for. We will continue to advertise and promote priority seating in 2016 through our ongoing communications campaign, which includes advertising on TTC vehicles, on subway platforms, and public address announcements. Behaviour change takes time but we will continue to work on it.

We agree that more education for our customers is needed, and began an ad campaign in January 2016 that will address the issue of boarding and safety around ramps. These ads specifically state that customers using mobility devices should board first and exit last.

Unfortunately, we don't have staff available to speak to children at schools about riding the TTC. We do make information about how to ride the TTC available on our website for all customers.

Better Information At Stops

Comments:

“When a stop is removed, why don't you let people know?”

“Every single bus stop has the wrong schedule.”

“What's with disappearing buses (on Nextbus)? How does a bus go from being 4 mins away one minute to being 30 mins away the next?”

Response:

Our practice is to install a customer notice two weeks prior to the removal of the stop and advise the date for removal and the next closest available stop. Sometimes we have to make changes more quickly but our practice has been two weeks’ notice.

We are continually updating information at bus stops and bus stations. In 2016, we will be rolling out new bus pole designs and maps. Electronic "Next Vehicle Arrival System" screens will appear in more stops and stations. These will provide real-time information that should offer an improvement over conventional posted schedules.

Due to limitations of the Nextbus system, buses might disappear from Nextbus if they are standing for a long period of time, lose signal, or if they deviate from their route due to a collision, diversion or road closure.

Better Information On Vehicles

Comments:

“Are there any plans to add text-based announcements to the vehicles to inform the deaf and hard of hearing TTC riders, reducing confusion and isolation.”

“Can't hear announcements on subways properly, often don't know there is a delay and to get off and figure out a new route.”

“What techniques are you using to determine where the doors open? Not all trains have those announcements.”

“Perhaps side door announcements might be more useful if they were moved back to provide more time.”

Response:

Existing technology limits our ability to provide text-based announcements in real time on vehicles, but we're committed to improving the accessibility of service alerts and are exploring options to do so. Planned improvements to our communications systems in the coming years will enable vehicles to receive text-based announcements, however, additional investment is required to integrate this functionality.

Live announcements are transmitted to subway trains using radio and live operators which sometimes makes them difficult to understand or conflicts with other announcements on the train. We are committed to improving the quality of live announcements on train in the coming years.

The software on all Toronto Rocket trains is being upgraded to include the door open announcements. We would like to provide the announcements early in order to allow customers as much time as possible before the door opens. Technical limitations related to accurately determining the train's position currently limits our ability to make the announcements earlier, however, we are exploring how they can be addressed.

Customer information by phone

Comments:

“Frequently the LIFT Line hasn't been updated for seven or eight hours.  That has to be updated regularly so that we know we can travel safely and get from point A to point B and have all our elevators working.”

Response: The LIFT line is updated daily at 6am (9am on Sundays), 4pm and 9pm to inform customers of any elevator outages. In addition, as soon as we are made aware that an elevator is out of service we immediately update the LIFT line. However, if a customer calls at 3pm, they may hear a message like “as of 6am today…” and it may seem as if the LIFT line has not been updated in several hours; this is either because no further updates are available on elevators that are out of service, or because there are not any elevators out of service.

Better Information in Subway Stations

Comments:

“Signs in subway stations announcing when next train is coming and the time are very hard to read. Are you going to improve readability?”

“I understand TTC might be interested in indoor navigation systems. What is the plan going forward for that?”

“Needs to be more blind friendly at stations so the blind know what bus bays are which buses.”

“Issues with direction (compass) of service. I wanted to go east and went west.”

Response:

The customer information screens in subway stations are operated by a third party. Our agreement with them specifies the space available for customer information. We are currently reviewing the interface with a view to improving consistency with other TTC design elements and will take these comments into account.

We are currently working with the CNIB to test indoor navigation technology and feasibility for using it on the TTC system. We are also researching tactile options for bus terminals that will assist people with vision impairments.

Floor compasses appear in some of our stations already. We are looking into ways we can use floor graphics to improve wayfinding.

Better Information on the TTC Website

Comments:

“I believe the TTC should focus on continuing to further modernize the website. It would be helpful to add real-time route mapping and notices of any and all construction interruptions in and around routes where passengers will be impacted.”

“On line route planner like Google maps, but for accessible routes, and showing travel times.  Thank you.”

Response:

“We are working on a plan now to modernize the website. Stay tuned for more info. The TTC’s Trip Planner provides accessible travel options. Please visit: http://www.ttc.ca/Trip_planner/index.jsp and click the "Find an accessible route" option.

Better customer service

Comments:

“Bus drivers should be trained to greet all passengers as they pay their fare and should thank the passengers for using the TTC when the bus pulls into the station.”

“There are some very rude drivers. Have a code of conduct for language.”

“Each bus driver should have a written copy of the policy around boarding people using wheelchairs, so we don't have explain to every driver. Mobility devices on first and off last.  Why does every driver have their own version of the rule?”

“Could TTC please tell the drivers to let the wheelchairs on first before they let other passengers on?”

Response: 

Bus Operators receive extensive customer service training which includes greeting and being polite to customers. We continue to reinforce good customer service with recertification training and individual training when required. We also commend and reward Operators who demonstrate excellent customer service. We have high expectations of our Operators for good customer service. If you receive poor customer service, please report the bus number, date, time and details of the behaviour to TTC Customer Service.

Operators will ask customers to allow customers using mobility devices to board the bus first. However, Operators will not ask customers already on the bus to get off the bus to provide room for a customer with a mobility device who wants to board. We are constantly working to address crowding issues through changes to the schedule which may include adding additional service to meet the demand. We recently communicated with all Operators and Supervisors on the use of accessible stops and deployment of the ramp. We will continue to reinforce the requirements and educate on the needs of customers using mobility devices.

Better training: bus / streetcar / subway

Comments:

“Bus drivers on regular routes still stop too far from curb.”

“Buses need to give elderly, pregnant, and people with disabilities time to sit before they depart.”

“Bus drivers must use the ramp, I use a walker.”

“Some operators they don't tell other riders to give a seat to riders with disabilities.”

“Subway train employees should give more time to get on and off the trains because people using wheelchairs don't have enough time to exit or enter.”

Response: 

Operators are trained to align both the front and rear doors with the curb when servicing a stop on the street or when parking on a platform at a station. Operators are trained to be aware of the risk to safety that results when a customer is forced to step too far from the bus to reach the curb or vice versa. They are also educated on the difficulty some customers experience when forced to step up or down too great a distance to enter or exit the vehicle. In situations when aligning with the curb is impossible (e.g., cars parked too close to the stops, snow banks, construction). Operators are instructed to proceed to the first available, safe location for boarding and alighting customers.

Operators are trained to ensure they maneuver their bus, whether braking, accelerating or turning, in a manner that keeps their customers safe. Operators are trained to wait for all customers who appear to be unsteady on their feet to be seated or standing firmly and holding a stanchion before putting the bus in motion. Bus Operators should be waiting for all customers using mobility devices to be in place and secured before moving the vehicle. If this is not the case, please report the bus number, date and time to TTC Customer Service and we will address the issue directly with the Operator.

An Operator may not deploy the ramp if they think that the customer can board without it. However, the ramp is available for any customer who needs it, and the Operator must deploy it, on request.

The blue seats are intended for customers with a disability, which could be visible or not. Operators will ask customers occupying the blue seats if they would be kind enough to make a seat available. However, a customer already occupying a blue seat is not obliged to vacate the seat. In fact, this customer may have a disability which is not visible and, therefore, they also may require a blue seat.

Subway Operators are trained to keep the doors open until all the exiting and boarding passengers, including customers using mobility devices, are clear of the doorways.

Better training: Wheel-Trans

Comments:

“Some drivers need customer service training.”

“Another thing, you must, must, must, give your drivers more sensitivity training.  Drivers must not refer to customers as “wheelchairs”.

Response:

We will continue to provide drivers with sensitivity and awareness training in 2016.

Elevator use

Comments:

“Can you help people understand that elevators are of priority usage for mobility devices and the elderly.”

“I would like it, the way how you have put an enhanced emphasis on the seats and the courtesy area, if you could do something about the elevators, because people rush onto the elevators, run to get to them and go upstairs and leave people in wheelchairs and scooters down on the platform.”

“There should be some sort of signage for wheelchair priority access to use the elevators”

Response:

TTC policy is that elevators are available for use by all customers and are not reserved for people with disabilities. Space on elevators is first-come, first-served, like all of our transit vehicles and facilities. Unfortunately, there will be times when you have to wait for an elevator. We do, however, encourage all customers to show consideration for those whose needs may be greater than their own.

The provincial Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) regulates the operation of escalators in Ontario. The TSSA has identified that escalators are for “Passengers Only” and that strollers, walkers or carts of any kind are not permitted on escalators. Therefore, TTC encourages all customers travelling with wheeled devices to use elevators, where available.

Fares for people with disabilities

Comments:

“Accessible should also consider the financial barriers that people with disabilities experience.”

“In most other major cities, individuals with disabilities are afforded the same discount as Seniors, because it makes for a more accessible public transit. Might the TTC consider doing the same?”

“Fare hike proposed is the opposite of what low income people can afford.”

“When you advantage a group like the children, you disadvantage somebody else, and you're disadvantaging the disabled and the seniors.”

“Lower post-secondary student Metropass prices. Children and high school students generally do not have to pay for their own education. Why are their fares cheaper?”

Response:

The TTC is working with the City of Toronto and various other city agencies on the Transit Fare Equity component of the overall Poverty Reduction Strategy.  Recommendations to the Board on how best to deal with providing subsidized transit for Torontonians who are most in need will be made in early 2016.

Children riding free was a decision implemented by Toronto City Council to not only provide relief to families with children, but also as a way to promote transit to the next generation of riders.

Fare payment

Comments:

“Kipling subway station: separate turnstile for people with disabilities that accepts only tokens. As a senior citizen I am entitled to a reduced fare on the TTC. However, when the token is the only form of payment being accepted, it unfairly requires full fare payments from those who can least afford it and, as mentioned, are fully entitled to ride TTC for a reduced fare.”

“Why can't the driver on the regular TTC service take the fare and deposit it in the fare box when a customer cannot reach the fare box?”

Response:

TTC recognizes the current constraints with automatic subway entrances where payment is only possible by token or pass. This issue will be resolved in 2016-17 when the current accessible entry devices at Kipling, Eglinton, and Scarborough Centre Stations (Easier Access Portal Unit), and the accessible entry doors at automatic entrances on Line 4 (Sheppard) are replaced with new PRESTO-enabled fare gates.

Operators of buses are permitted to deposit fares into the farebox for customers who cannot reach the fare box, on request.

Purchasing fares - PRESTO

Comments:

“With PRESTO, if we have to buy a pass, we might not have a need for a lot of rides per month.  Will the pass be usable any month as long as rides exist on it to use?”

“Getting into a subway to buy bus fare from a collectors booth. Can Wheel Trans provide Fare media to the drivers? PRESTO may make things easier.”

Response:

The PRESTO card can be used like tokens, except there won’t be a need to carry a pocket full of them anymore.  The card will hold virtual tokens which will be subtracted from it when it's tapped against a PRESTO reader, enabling the user to take a ride. The tokens (or value) will remain on the card for as long as they're not used up.

Purchasing fares will be made easier with the implementation of PRESTO at all subway stations and on all surface vehicles by the end of 2016. Customers will be able to load their fare products onto the card at subway stations, online, by telephone, or at various third party stores.  Currently, our fare media can be purchased at close to 1200 stores across the Toronto.  For the closest location, please visit: http://www.ttc.ca/Fares_and_passes/Prices/loadFareMediaSellers.action.

Accessibility Advisory Committees

Comments:

“Hire people with disabilities to go around the system and point out areas for improvement.”

“Can you please post ACAT subcommittee minutes online.”

“Why not start a GTA ACAT?”

Response:

The TTC has an Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) with a mandate to represent the needs and concerns of seniors and people with disabilities and provide advice to the TTC on accessible public transit. ACAT members frequently bring forward areas for improvement to TTC staff. While ACAT Subcommittee meetings are not public, a summary of these meetings is reported at the monthly ACAT meetings, which all members of the public are invited to attend.

Metrolinx has an Accessibility Advisory Committee which is responsible for advising on regional transit issues in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Please contact Metrolinx for more information.

Safety and Security

Comments:

“I believe that the TTC could make some money if they see people smoking inside buses, also spilling and doing all kinds of nonsense inside the TTC property.”

“Hire more staff to watch and observe the stations for people entering illegally. I witnessed myself which TTC is losing a lot of its revenue by letting them get away with it.”

“I take Wheel-Trans partly because I had an accident on the TTC in 2010 and partly because I've been repeatedly assaulted on the regular transit, and the regular transit is not responding appropriately to assaults on people with disabilities.”

Response:

TTC Transit Enforcement Officers routinely patrol stations and enforce TTC By-Law #1, which includes smoking, illegal entry and disruptive behavior. We assign special patrols and details to areas when we receive complaints or notice an increase if criminal or By-Law violations. During the preceding year Officers spent 1526 hours conducting illegal entry details at stations that resulted in 1179 cautions, 377 Provincial charges, 12 arrests and 1 Criminal charge. Unfortunately the TTC does not get any monies paid as a result of fines laid by the Transit Enforcement Officers.

All Transit Enforcement Officers receive training in General Investigations as well as training on Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act regulations, the Ontario Human Rights Code, as well as the TTC’s own Code of Conduct. If you feel a Transit Enforcement Officer has not appropriately responded to your complaint you may call the Transit Enforcement Unit Complaints Coordinator at 416-393-3111 or at unitcomplaintscoordinator@ttc.ca.

Cognitive Accesibility

Comments:

“You need to make TTC cognitively accessible, ditch numbers from subway line names.”

"What is the TTC doing to make the system cognitively accessible?”

Response:

Along with numbers we use symbols, colour and plain language specifically to help people with cognitive limitations. In addition, new Wheel-Trans eligibility criteria will welcome customers with cognitive impairments to the paratransit system, if they are unable to be trained to use the conventional transit system. More information will be available in 2016.