Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2014 Public Forum regarding Vehicle and Station Design. 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.

Ramp reliability and operator procedures

Comments:

“Suggestion regarding ramps not deploying and drivers' concern about injury. Add handle like those on Wheel-Trans.”

“Driver says the ramp isn’t working.”

Response:

In response to comments raised at the 2013 Public Forum on Accessible Transit, TTC has implemented new measures to reduce ramp failures. Operators are now required to check that the ramp functions at the start of their day. In 2014, this has resulted in about 50% fewer complaints to TTC Customer Service regarding ramps not working. In addition, new hooks have been installed on all buses. The hook allows the Operator to assist the hydraulic motor when the ramp is unable to start its deployment due to dirt and ice. The purpose of the hook is not to deploy the ramp manually, rather it is to help the motor by breaking any seal created by debris around the edge of the ramp in the bus. If the ramp will not deploy with the assistance of the hook, it is malfunctioning and the defect will be reported and repaired. The Operator will immediately advise a Supervisor who will advise the next bus arriving that a customer with a mobility device is at the stop and was unable to board the earlier bus.

Conventional service vehicles design

Comment:

“All TTC buses are not accessible to four-wheel electric scooters.”

Response:

The TTC has worked closely with vehicle manufacturers and ACAT to improve the accessibility of our buses. The passageway space between the front wheel-wells of the current standardized North American low-floor bus designs cannot be made wider. TTC always purchases the widest front doors available and ensures that all components at the front of the bus are arranged in such a way as to not impede the entrance area. The TTC’s new articulated buses have been designed to make the 90-degree turn at the front of the bus easier to navigate. Unfortunately, there still is no way to accommodate four-wheel electric scooters given the large dimensions and wide turning radii of these devices.

TTC and ACAT continue to communicate the limitations of low-floor buses to mobility device manufacturers to encourage them to design devices that we can accommodate. More information on the accessibility features of our buses and space limitations at mobility device locations is available on the TTC Easier Access website.

Conventional bus stops

Comment:

“At the stop at Humber Church hospital there is no pavement for wheelchairs to get off on the southeast side. There is a sidewalk on the northeast to move the TTC stop.”

Response:

This location has been forwarded to the City of Toronto to include in their 2015 construction program.

Emergency announcements

Comment:

“Emergency announcements in train and on platform for deaf people.”

Response:

Emergency announcements are provided on platforms through the Platform Video Screens and over the public address system. TTC staff are also available to assist in emergency situations. An upgrade of the subway train communications system is expected to allow for emergency announcements to be sent directly to the display screens on subway trains in the coming years.

Subway station elevator design

Comments:

“How about making all the elevators voice automated to better cater to individuals with different disabilities?”

“Can elevators be designed for customers without upper body strength?”

“Inconsistent signage on elevators.”

Response:

Based on our research to date TTC has not been able to find such technology to voice automate elevators which would function reliably in a subway environment.

TTC is aware that some of our older elevators have signage and buttons that are inconsistent with current TTC wayfinding standards. The buttons and signage in and around these elevators will be upgraded in 2015 to be made consistent with our current standards.

Washrooms at subway stations

Comments:

“Can TTC design single washrooms to accommodate people with support workers of the opposite sex (example-male customer with female support worker)?”

“Can additional washrooms be designed between interchange stations, i.e. Bloor and Finch, for customers with physical needs who may not be able to travel the full distance without a break?”

Response:

Support workers of the opposite sex could be accommodated through the use of universal washrooms, which are now required as per the Ontario Building Code for new construction. TTC will add this requirement to our design standards, for terminal and interchange stations.

Incorporation of public washrooms at in-line stations cannot be accommodated given high retrofit costs due to limited space availability and required services (water, heating, climate control), cost of security and maintenance, etc.

Subway station design

Comments:

“Make curb cuts at Ossington station.”

“Make the front doors on the McDonald’s at St. Clair Station accessible.”

Response:

The existing step at the entrance to Ossington Station will be replaced with a new slightly ramped entrance as part of the Easier Access project that is now underway.

In response to this customer comment, an automatic door opener with accessible push buttons has been installed at the entrance to the McDonalds at St Clair Station.

Ramps at Union Station

Comments:

“The ramp out of Union is too steep for people using canes.”

“The new ramps are very long in some places. At union station one ramp has 5 switch backs. It is excessively long and requires several tight turns. I doubt a scooter can manoeuver it with ease. With a manual chair, I could never do it. Why such a long wheel with tight turns? Why force wheel chair users outdoors at Union Station (to the GO doors) when everyone else can take a short jaunt across to the train station.”

Response:

The ramps at Union Station have slopes of 1:12 or less and meet the requirements of the Ontario Building Code. Customers may also choose to use the elevators and escalators at Royal Bank Plaza on the north side of Front Street, or at Brookfield Place.

In addition, the completion of the Union Rail Station project will result in the removal of the existing stairs connecting the subway and rail stations and replacement with level access between the two stations. Once construction is complete, customers will no longer need to use the ramps between the subway and rail stations.

Boarding subway trains

Comment:

“Please put a ramp to the subway train at Eglinton in area of elevator.”

Response:

TTC staff are working with ACAT members to design and test an improved platform edge at Eglinton Station in the vicinity of the elevator to reduce the vertical gap space at this station and improve safety for all customers. Construction is expected to begin in Spring/Summer, 2015

Subway train design

Comment:

“On Toronto Rocket trains, should make timing of doors longer. Chime and lights should sound before doors close.”

Response:

Door chimes and lights are currently activated prior to the doors closing. The door chimes on the Toronto Rocket trains will be upgraded in 2015-16 with new external speakers to improve audibility of door chimes on the platform and synchronization of door chimes, lights and the door operations, such that the warning messages including chime and light will be fully delivered before doors are physically closed.

Escalator directions

Comment:

“Finch terminal station - during homecoming rush hour why is escalator coming down (with no one on it) and not up - narrow stairways are always jammed.”

Response:

Finch Station has four escalators between the subway platform and fares concourse levels. Two of the escalators operate in the up direction at all times, and two in the down direction. Where escalators operate in the down direction, TTC aims to keep escalators operating in the down direction at all times, even during the PM rush hour, to accommodate people with mobility impairments who have difficulty using stairs, but who may not require an elevator.

Wheel-Trans vehicle design

Comments:

“Wheel-Trans "large buses" are lovely but you need to be able to function in construction areas of Toronto.”

“These new Friendly buses that are so big they can't get through the turn-abouts in front of most buildings.”

“Ramps are too steep on the buses, prefers cabs because of this.”

Response:

Supervisors are often called out to assess and recommend alternatives when buses cannot fit through a construction area or turn around. A smaller bus may be among those considered in the future.

Wheel-Trans vehicle ramps are set to the specified code ratio of 4:1 to the roadway. The steepness of the ramps on the buses are no greater than that set on taxi cabs. It is suggested that customers who are uneasy may request the ramp be placed on a curb for front door entry which would ease steepness somewhat to a 6:1 ratio.  However, a front door load may not always be possible due to a sequence of pick-up and drop-off at varying locations.

Contracted Wheel-Trans sedan taxi design

Comments:

“Every time they send me a bus, I'm the only one on it or one other person, and yet you get jammed three people, often two or all three needing the front seat. And some of these cabs, these modern ones, are smaller cars. Why isn't Wheel-Trans requiring the cab companies if they are going to service Wheel-Trans that they use full-sized cars.”

“Taxi can’t hold 2 walkers. Please do not schedule pick up of more than 1 person with walkers for those vehicle.”

“Sitting in taxis - front seat sitting preferred in order to stretch my legs. Back seat is too crowded.”

Response:

Wheel-Trans is reviewing the capacity on all of our vehicles to meet service. Wheel-Trans also assists the Metro Licensing & Standards Division of the City regarding vehicles on the approved List for Service. Unfortunately, Wheel-Trans cannot dictate which vehicles drivers purchase as they may have other requirements.

The capacity on a sedan taxi is currently set at three and can only have two regular folding walkers in their trunk at a time; however, this will be reviewed. Customers requiring the front seat must request it at time of booking, but this cannot be guaranteed as we have multiple customers that may have the same request.

Contracted Wheel-Trans accessible taxi design

Comment:

“I think for the Wheel-Trans mini vans should be a little bigger so Wheel-Trans customers should have a choice rather than taking all buses because I cannot fit on the mini van and sometimes when I need to get there I don't have a choice.”

Response:

Your comment will be reviewed in future vehicle consideration at the next taxi contract talks.