Message from Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans

Portrait of Dwayne Geddes

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As we started the year, we were excited to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Wheel-Trans delivering service to millions of customers since its inception. We were ready to highlight the thoughtful and innovative initiatives our team has been working on over the past year that enhance the Wheel-Trans experience and more.

When COVID-19 hit, it changed the way we live, think and what we thought we knew to be our future.

Since March, our team has been working non-stop to help keep our customers and staff safe.

Some of the COVID-19 safety initiatives we have put into place include:

  • Offering solo rides to customers.
  • Providing special transport to symptomatic customers requiring life-sustaining treatments.
  • Screening customers carefully during trip booking to ensure proper service is provided.
  • Providing Personal Protective Equipment to all of our Wheel-Trans Operators and Taxi Drivers to help keep customers and themselves safe.
  • Ongoing special cleaning of all Wheel-Trans vehicles to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Collaborating with Taxi Services to have safety partitions installed in ATs.
  • Practicing safe physical distancing measures and ongoing sanitation of workspaces at our Wheel-Trans facilities.
  • Screening our staff at our main Wheel-Trans Division daily at our on-site Health Screening Station.

I would like to say a big thank you to our customers, our staff and the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit for coming together and supporting one another during this challenging time. We could not get through this without you.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns. We will be in touch again soon. Please stay safe and well.

COVID-19 Affected Service and Program Updates

Wheel-Trans driver in a vehicle, wearing a protective mask.

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Masks or face coverings mandatory on the TTC

On July 2, 2020, it became mandatory for customers to wear masks or face coverings on the TTC and Wheel-Trans.

Exceptions include:

  • Children under the age of two.
  • Customers with medical or other conditions that prevent use.
  • Persons who are unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance.

Operators will be provided with a limited supply of one-time use, disposable masks to promote mask use on transit for customers who do not have one.

Please note that for the continued safety of TTC staff and customers, operators cannot assist customers with applying/securing masks or face coverings. If you require assistance, please have someone assist you prior to your trip or travel with a support person.

Face mask exemption cards and pins

The wearing of face masks and face coverings on the TTC is mandatory effective July 2, 2020. We recognize that not everyone is able to wear a mask, so the TTC has created a card that customers can use as a visual identifier for exemptions. These cards are provided as a courtesy by the TTC; customers who cannot wear a mask are not required to carry them.

Upon request, mask exemption pins are also available for those who require them.

I'm unable to wear a mask flashcard

Customers who wish to obtain one of these cards or buttons can visit the Customer Service Centre above Davisville Station (1900 Yonge Street) between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Cards are also available at select subway stations, including Kipling, York University, Union and Bloor-Yonge. TTC and Wheel-Trans Customers can also request a card be sent to them by mail by calling TTC Customer Information at 416-393-4636 or Wheel-Trans Customer Service at 416-393-4111.

Trip booking changes

Booking protocols

Effective July 2, 2020, the Wheel-Trans self-booking website (SBW) will re-open for booking occasional trips. Occasional trips are as defined one-time, non-recurring trips booked on an as-needed basis.

When booking a trip on the SBW, Wheel-Trans customers must successfully pass a screening questionnaire regarding COVID-19 symptoms. For increased safety measures for customers and staff, those who do not pass the questionnaire must call Reservations at 416-393-4222 to book their trips.

Customers will be able to book trips seven days in advance. Customers are responsible for notifying Wheel-Trans by calling Reservations if they begin to experience any COVID-19 symptoms by the time of their booked trip. Customers are asked to avoid travel if they are ill, however, arrangements can be made for life-sustaining trips by speaking with someone at Reservations.

Automated call trip confirmations and call outs will start at 7:00 p.m. on the day before the scheduled trip.

Self-booking website upgrades

Upon the re-opening of the self-booking website (SBW) on July 2, 2020, customers may notice some upgrades when navigating the website.

Some of the new features of the SBW include:

  • Allowing customers who have a registered valid email address on file to reset their passwords online.*
  • Design improvements, including updates to the booking screens.
  • Listing trip cancellations when displaying customer trip history.

* To change your password online you must have an existing valid email on file or call our Customer Service Line at 416-393-4111 to add your email address to your profile.

Changes to conventional bus boarding

To allow for further social distancing, if you travel on a conventional TTC bus, you can now board at both the front and back doors. Here’s how it works:

  • Anyone who requires the ramp or kneeling feature or is traveling with someone as a support person should
    board and exit the bus through the front door.
  • All PRESTO card and PRESTO Ticket customers who do not require the ramp or kneeling feature should enter the bus through the rear doors and tap their card or ticket on the reader beside the door when they board.
  • All customers who do not require the ramp or kneeling feature should exit the bus through the back doors.

Family of Services

Wheel-Trans continues to offer Family of Services trips as an option for all customers to provide even more travel options and spontaneity of travel. A Family of Services trip connects Wheel-Trans customers with the TTC’s accessible fleet of bus, community bus, streetcar or subway for all or part of their trip.

Conditional Trip-Matching

Conditional Trip-Matching (CTM) provides a Family of Services trip to customers with conditional eligibility. A customer with conditional eligibility is able to ride the TTC’s accessible buses, streetcars and subways when none of their conditions are in place. The implementation of mandatory CTM has been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please stay tuned for more updates.

Re-Registration

We continue to process re-registration applications during this time. Wheel-Trans customers who applied for Wheel-Trans service before January 1, 2017 are required to re-register to determine their eligibility category. Please contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service at 416-393-4111 or email wtcs@ttc.ca for more information.

Public consultations

In order to safely update our customers on the 10-Year Strategy, our annual public consultation was posted online for comment and review on July 27, 2020. View our public update presentation or listen to the audio file. Please send any feedback to wtconsult@ttc.ca.

What’s new!

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Access Hubs

Picture of an Access Hub stop.

TTC announces the opening of 12 new Access Hubs!

These hubs provide a comfortable waiting area for our Family of Services customers when transferring between Wheel-Trans service to accessible conventional transit. All 16 Access Hubs should be in operation by the end of the summer.

New Access Hubs:

  • Kipling & Dixon (NW, SW)
  • Jane & Eglinton (NE, SW)
  • Freshmeadow & Don Mills
  • Overlea/Thorncliffe (NW)
  • Victoria Park and Ellesmere (S/E, NW)
  • Neilson & Ellesmere (SW, NE)
  • Victoria Park Avenue/Kingston Road (Bingham Loop)
  • Long Branch Loop

Service Contracts - Taxi

We are excited to announce that new Accessible Taxi Service and Sedan Taxi Service contracts are now in place.

The five successful AT Contractors are:
  • Co-Op
  • Scarborough City Cab
  • Checker Taxi
  • Royal Taxi
  • Beck Taxi
The three successful Sedan Contractors are:
  • Co-Op Taxi
  • Beck Taxi
  • Scarborough City Cab Sedan Taxi

New "No Show" calls

Wheel-Trans will now be calling you if you have been “No Showed”. You will receive an automated phone call to the phone number you have on file that will let you know that our Wheel-Trans Operator or Taxi Driver was not able to locate you at your designated pick-up location and time. This call is in addition to the No Show notice that is placed at the designated pick-up location. This new feature will ensure that customers are immediately notified and that new trip arrangements can be made promptly, if required.

Mobile app volunteers needed

Wheel-Trans is looking for your help to test out our new mobile app! We are looking for 100 volunteers to try the new app that is set to launch later this year.

The mobile app will allow you to book, cancel or modify trips, view trip details, receive messages and service alerts impacting your trip, set communication notification preferences, easily access useful links, set up notifications and reset passwords. You can also see the location of your Wheel-Trans vehicle in real-time using the app’s “Where’s My Ride” function.

To participate in the pilot, you will:

  • Be an active user of Wheel-Trans.
  • Have a relatively current phone (Apple or Android) with an up-to-date operating system.
  • Have a Data Plan.
  • Have a valid e-mail address.
  • Be a City of Toronto resident.
  • Be willing to reply/respond to all surveys related to the test.
  • Be willing to book Family of Services trips.

To apply, please provide the following information to wtcs@ttc.ca no later than September 15, 2020. Please add the subject line “Mobile App Volunteer Application” and provide the information below:

  • Full Name
  • Customer Number
  • Home Address
  • Phone Type and model – IOS (i.e. iPhone 8) or Android (i.e. Galaxy 10)
  • E-mail address to be used for pilot
  • Please indicate if you are willing to book Family of Services trips using the App

In Memoriam    

Photo of Tom Richardson standing by a Wheel-Trans vehicle.

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Tom Richardson and his guide dog Rio joined the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) January 2017, died on Thursday December 5, 2019, in Toronto. Having closed his company, retiring from a career of conducting CPR / First Aid instructor training throughout Ontario, Tom was enthusiastic to contribute to ACAT’s advocacy on accessible transit. Tom had vision loss and hearing loss, and extensive experience using dog guides, Rio being his fourth. He educated staff and ACAT members about the impact of his dual disabilities on his life, and on how he travelled with his guide dog on the TTC, which was his main source of transportation in Toronto.

A proud citizen of East York, on the ACAT Communications Subcommittee Tom championed the TTC’s marketing of the 404 East York Community Bus Pilot in 2017-18. He teamed up with TTC staff to engage local seniors to get on board, including showing off the Community Bus in the East York Canada Day parade! He gave talks at seniors’ centres and residences to tell them about this new route that connects them on weekdays to the important places in their community. Given the opportunity, he shared his sense of humour, such as always travelling with a gorgeous blonde (Rio). Tom and Rio’s photo is on the front of the 404 East York Community Bus schedule.

In 2018, Tom chaired the ACAT Service Planning Subcommittee and was ACAT’s representative on the TTC Customer Liaison Panel. He began using Wheel-Trans and commended this service. During Tom’s journey with cancer, Wheel-Trans was a big help to him and his wife Janet, to get out and about.

Tom’s funeral was December 12, 2019 at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in East York. Tom leaves his wife Janet, their daughter Laura and her husband Paul, their son Rob, and four grandchildren. Rio has a new home, chosen by Tom, with a family member. 

Message from Mazin Aribi, Chair of ACAT

Marzin Aribi

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Hello,

My name is Mazin Aribi, and as a long-time advocate for accessible transit in Toronto, I am honoured to be the Chair of ACAT for 2020.

First, I would like to acknowledge that we are living in unprecedented times in our history as we all face the COVID-19 pandemic. It has affected our lives, families and friends in every aspect, including the ways we travel, especially accessible transit.

During this emergency, ACAT cancelled its meetings for March, April and May while monitoring the actions taken by the TTC and Wheel-Trans teams. ACAT recognizes that the TTC actions have been quick and swift but also necessary as they worked diligently with public health officials to ensure the safety of all TTC/Wheel-Trans customers and TTC/Wheel-Trans operators.

ACAT will continue to advocate for accessible transit, especially as easing measures begin in the coming months. It is recognized that the situation is very fluid and changing every day; however, safety measures must be maintained.

ACAT thanks all Wheel-Trans customers and their families for being patient and understanding during these times. We extend our gratitude and wishes for good health to all TTC and Wheel-Trans operators and their families.

ACAT can be reached via email at acat@ttc.ca. Stay safe, stay well.