Editorial Archive

A fully accessible TTC for all is a must

9/19/14 6:00 AM

Earlier this week, the TTC held its seventh annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit.

This yearly event is a meeting of customers, accessibility advocates, TTC staff and members of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT).  It enables TTC staff to receive direct feedback about the service that we provide to customers who need accessible transit, and for us to report back on the strides we’re making to become a fully accessible network.

The forum is a well-attended and eagerly anticipated event each year, and this year’s was no exception. Staff were on-hand for the first hour for one-on-one discussions, and to answer questions from attendees about TTC services. The last two hours were dedicated to a formal update from staff, but lots of time was given to questions and comments from TTC customers.

At last year’s event, I committed to spend a day in a wheelchair to see, for myself, some of the challenges our customers in mobility devices face. I recently kept that promise and sampled Wheel-Trans, bus, and subway services in the company of an ACAT member. I was in plain clothes so as to make the experience as low key as possible.

It was a sobering experience to be out of my comfort zone and to have to rely on ramps and elevators to get around. I was also reminded just how much remains to be done to improve signage at a consistent level, to deliver a fully accessible fleet and to retrofit remaining stations with elevators, accessible fare gates and other features many of us take for granted.

What was encouraging was the unfailingly polite, kind and professional attitude I encountered from TTC staff, nearly all of whom were completely unaware of my identity.

A single day, of course, does not replicate the true obstacles faced by riders with mobility challenges; nor was that its purpose. In accepting the challenge, I was demonstrating my support for a fully accessible transit system, and to see what more the TTC needs to do on delivering a transit system that makes all Torontonians proud.

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