Wheel-Trans Operating Procedures
Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2017 Public Forum regarding Wheel-Trans Operating Procedures. 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.
The Wheel-Trans 10-Year Strategy has additional information on initiatives underway to improve Wheel-Trans services.
- “Telephone wait times in Customer Service and Reservations are too long. I’ve waited up to two hours for someone to answer.”
- “I would like to know that when I am on the customer service line I am being attending to in 15 to 30 minutes instead of 1.5 to 2 hours.”
- “Make booking a ride with Wheel-Trans easier. I sometimes have to wait 30 to 45 minutes. Not everyone has a computer to book online.”
- “You need more agents at the end of more phones.”
- “It takes sometimes more than an hour for a booking. Please provide a hot-line after about 15 or 20 minutes.”
- “Sometimes when calling Wheel-Trans they hang up on me.”
- “Sometimes I call Wheel-Trans through TTY, and have to wait on hold too long.”
- “There should be more CSRs answering emails.”
We have had an influx of customers applying for our service which has lead to more calls. We understand this concern and are upgrading our telephone systems to reduce wait times and give customers more options/information while on wait. The new telephony system is expected to be installed in the first quarter of 2018. Customer Service has been busy with the new Family of Services questions from customers along with the new application process. We are hiring additional staff in Customer Service to reduce wait times.
We encourage customers to remain on the line as that will maintain their call in the queue. Repeatedly hanging up and calling back places each new call at the end of the queue. We have increased our staff, all positions are filled and our wait times have dropped significantly since September. We have also added transitional workers as well to assist with the phone lines. The new telephony system that is expected to be in place will further reduce phone response times and will also give customers the option for a call back to avoid long periods of hold on the phone. In addition, customers may use the IVR or online service to book trips, and more trip booking features will be available in IVR and online booking soon.
Customers who are on hold for 30+ minutes are transferred to the priority line. Those operating this line have been advised to politely apologize to the customer and take down their phone number. A Reservationist is assigned to the call the customers back immediately ensuring that they are assisted and not subject to waiting in the queue for another 30+ minutes.
Our busiest days are Monday to Thursday. On Friday to Sunday it is much quicker to get through to Reservations. Our phone lines are answered from 7:00am to 11:00pm, seven days a week. We have had some problems with our phones with Bell in 2017, it was an area wide problem which Bell confirmed. This seems to have been corrected.
We have purchased brand new TTY machines as the previous ones were getting old. We expect that TTY issues have been corrected.
We have a staff who rotate on the emails and are dedicated for their entire shift to manage the emails. We will continue to work efficient to respond to all email concerns as quickly as possible
Same day trips
- “Would you provide alternative arrangement for customers who missed their appointment time due to late doctors? Or because the Wheel-Trans ride didn’t show up?”
- “Can you provide transportation on urgent basis in an hour or better, for example, if a space frees up because someone else didn’t show up?”
You can call the priority line to update on your situation. If you have missed the ride we will schedule you a ride within 1 hour, sometimes less depending on availability.
The Wheel-Trans Transformation Program aims to make improvements to the way we deliver service to allow our customers freedom and spontaneity while still maintaining the integrity of public, shared transportation. Technologically advanced scheduling and trip booking systems will build in efficiencies to benefit our customers.
- “Provide more than one option if an alternative ride is available”
- “Allow us to pick a time range if our ride is not time critical which can allow more flexibility for you to schedule.”
- “Let users choose between sedan taxis and accessible taxis.”
- “Do not automatically drop our request the night before if no ride has been found yet. We are still within the 4 hour request period.”
If other time slots are available, those are offered to the customer. With a new scheduling system we will be able to do real time optimization and allow customers to pick a time range. Currently our technology does not allow this. The scheduling system schedules the runs based on the service available to maximize rides for our customers and their specific needs.
The IVR sends a call out to customers if a trip has been cancelled. The trip is not dropped but rather put a manual waiting list which we ask that the customer call us back the day of travel to reinstate. Our Service Support team works around the clock to try and accommodate every request.
Wheel-Trans designated stops
- “Budweiser Stage needs to have a Wheel-Trans bus stop. Often I am in a Wheel-Trans vehicle and the driver is looking for someone in the crowd. Typically becomes a no show because we can't find the person.”
- “If you are dropped off at one location you should be picked up at the same location”
- “Why can’t we choose an entrance at the Toronto General Hospital other than the Gerrard St entrance? Our appointments might be at the other end of the building and we become a no show.”
- “Numerous problems with pick-up and drop-off at BMO Field. CNE security and police do not allow vehicles to enter. Should be a Wheel-Trans bus stop post. One of my drivers was physically grabbed by a police officer. Unacceptable. Rogers Centre and ACC sometimes have the same difficulties.”
Great suggestion, thank you. We will approach the organizers next year to look at the possibility of a Wheel-Trans stop at Budweiser Stage.
If there are multiple entrances at your destination or pick up location we ask all customers for their preferred location for their convenience. However, access to entrances are determined by the business or service owner. The Toronto General Hospital has asked that we only use the Gerrard Street entrance for safety reasons.
We are sorry you experienced this negative encounter. We have been working diligently with various venues such as Exhibition Place, and the Air Canada Centre to ensure that there is clear communications regarding Wheel-Trans access to these facilities. We are also focusing on group trip planning for major events so that we are not inconveniencing other passengers.
- “Is there a way of coordinating multi-people pick-ups going to Scarborough?”
- “If you have two people at one location, why not pick them both up at the same time, especially if they are going to the same destination?”
- “Let people from same area be picked up at same time depending on where and when they are going.”
- “Would it be possible to give the drivers our cell phone numbers? If there are two entrances in the building and they are not sure where you are they could call us.”
- “Would it be possible to give the drivers authority to direct where companions should sit?”
We are in the process of expanding our Zone buses and improving our scheduling processes to increase group trips. We do assess trips for the possibility of group trip planning. This is very important especially for major events so that we are not inconveniencing other passengers. Flexible pickup and drop-off times also allows us to easily create group bookings.
Our new scheduling system and our idea for an app for customers will give customers the ability to check the status of their vehicle/location. As per Wheel-Trans policy, Operators are not allowed to contact customers directly.
The operator is responsible to manage the locations of where any passenger is placed for a variety of reasons (i.e. Passenger comfort, minimise delays, safety, etc.).
Wheel-Trans service reliability
- “Taxis: they are often always late.”
- “Why is it that operators arrive early and in some instances won't wait even just five minutes. No consistency with operators.”
- “Scheduling needs to be fixed. Less time waiting for Wheel-Trans to pick up or drop off”
- “I had an appointment that was scheduled for 9:00 but Wheel-Trans didn't get me there until after 10:00. What are we doing to keep Wheel-Trans service on time?”
- “When I book a ride give my telephone number to the driver so they can inform me that they will be arriving within 10 minutes.”
- “It will be extremely helpful if customers could receive texts/calls if the Wheel-Trans vehicle is going to be late. This must be done in very near future as it causes hardship on customers and we have to wait 30 minutes to call the Priority Lines which is usually busy.”
We appreciate the comment and strive to be always on-time but various factors are beyond our control such as construction and road congestion. This is sometimes difficult to predict and can vary on any given day. If there is a specific case where service was extremely late or did not meet your expectation, please let us know and we will investigate it. Additional staff resources are being added to our dispatch area to complete more timely service adjustments.
Drivers are to ring the bell or buzz a customer when they are running late. We expect customers to be ready and waiting for when the vehicle is scheduled to arrive. In the event the ride is late, we will come to your door and ring the bell/buzz the intercom. If Wheel-Trans Operators arrive early, they must wait five minutes past the scheduled pick up time before placing a no show sticker and leaving.
We are looking at purchasing a new IVR system that will be able to give customers the options to receive text messages and emails for ride confirmations. We are also looking into creating an app from which you will be able to monitor the status including the locations of the vehicle for up to date and real-time information. We cannot ask drivers to text as it is against the Highway Traffic Act to use a handheld device while operating a motorized vehicle.
Wheel-Trans trip length
- “I was picked up at St Clair and we went all the way over to Keele and north of Wilson, and then we went back to Sheppard, picked somebody up, and then I was dropped off which is just south of Sheppard. Often times it takes me sometimes an hour, an hour and a half to get home, where normally it would take maybe 20 minutes, but that is because we go way east and then way north and then I'm dropped off an hour and a half later. That is not really an efficient use of the system.”
Wheel-Trans vehicles are dedicated to various regions/zones in our city. We are in the process of re-assessing this division of service areas to ensure the most efficient distribution of service.
Wheel-Trans eligibility and Family of Services
- “Can Wheel-Trans customers use TTC bus or subway in case of emergency?”
- “Would you please explain what a "conditional" customer is?”
- “New Family of Services is inconvenient for me I prefer door to door service.”
- “Getting from one bus to another bus is difficult. Works for some but not me.”
- “My question is in regards to the TTC Wheel-Trans stating publicly that they are going to move 50 percent of the current users of Wheel-Trans to the Family of Services. What are the plans and the deadlines for doing that?”
- “Mr. Byford, you were kindly asked for advice of what you should say at a public service announcement. How about this: TTC will never force any person qualified for Wheel-Trans to go on Family of Services if they don't consent to it. I think that would be a good start.”
- “Will door-to-door service still be available after Family of Services kick in?”
- “Are there any plans to increase the expiry time for people with a registration like myself number and maybe show the expiry time for the service? Because last year I was put off, and I called for a ride, and at that point my registration number had expired and I could not get to my therapy.”
Yes, customers of Wheel-Trans are not limited to Wheel-Trans only but are encouraged to use the rest of the TTC as well.
Conditional eligibility increases your independence because it gives you more options to consider when travelling. Conditional service means you can use a combination of door-to-door Wheel-Trans and conventional accessible transit such as the subway, buses and streetcars. The application you complete when you apply for Wheel-Trans services helps us make this determination. If you are granted conditional service it means you will get door-to-door service when certain conditions apply such as when there is snow on the ground and it becomes difficult for the customer to maneuver their mobility device in the snow or when they are availing life-sustaining treatment such as after dialysis.
Door-to-door service is based on a customers specific eligibility criteria and will continue to be available to those customers who are not able to use conventional transit system, as per AODA legislation.
There is no deadline to transition customers to Family of services. It will be a gradual process which will take place over several years. As the TTC becomes more accessible, we will be able to transition more customers.
You will always be able to book a ride with Wheel-Trans even if your account has gone inactive. We are currently reviewing our policy to reset the dormancy parameters. We apologize for the inconvenience.
- “Wheel-Trans may be scent free, but the contracted taxis certainly are not.”
- “Could Wheel-Trans and the TTC strongly promote a fragrance-free policy for its customers? Also, it would be very helpful if individuals who suffer from such severe allergies could be identified on their Wheel-Trans registration so that they would not have to share rides.”
- “Do Wheel-Trans users have the same right to film inside the system as other TTC users, including during the eligibility assessments?”
- “When I'm picked up by Wheel-Trans I've been refused service when I'm with children in a stroller. My request is to be picked up when I have a stroller and children with me because I feel safer when they're in the stroller as opposed to holding them.”
- “How long do I have to wait for a return ride after the appointment at my doctor’s office?”
- “Can you suspend a customer who is consistently late, every day? They make others late”
We apologize for the inconvenience. Wheel-Trans makes every effort to educate customers about scents, and also employs procedures for when customers experience scent difficulties while travelling on board. We will send reminders that every driver and vehicle sent must be "Scent Free".
The functional assessments are conducted by a third party and filming on their premises will need their explicit prior approval.
Wheel-Trans asks that all Customers verify the details of their trip to ensure the Operator has the accurate information on their runsheet at the time of pick up.
The minimum layover between rides is 45 minutes.
With respect to customers who are continuously late, please call Customer Service to provide us with specifics so we can take appropriate action.
Wheel-Trans no show and cancellation policy
- “Driver wait only 5 minutes.”
- “The 4 hour cancellation is crazy. There are many unforeseen situations where I need to cancel.”
- “Will our "reward points" be carried from month to month?”
- “When we have three trips scheduled in a day if we missed the first trip can we please keep the rest of the two trips?”
- “When pickups are late, can we leave after 20 minutes and not have it counted as a no show?”
- “Suppose I make an appointment to go somewhere the next day and I feel sick the day when I am to go and I have to cancel. What will happen to the next time when I call Wheel-Trans?”
Drivers are required to wait five minutes past the scheduled pick-up time but cannot wait longer in order to meet our on-time performance and ensure other customers are not impacted.
If you cancel four hours or greater from the scheduled pick up time you do not lose any Life Happens Points. In the event that you do lose a point, you have eight for the month and we will book you another ride when you are feeling better and confident to travel again. The Life Happens points reset at the end of each month and cannot be carried forward.
The No Show/Late Cancellation policy was formulated on the direction of the City of Toronto Ombudsman and the guidance of members of ACAT who are regular Wheel-Trans users. The policy also complies with AODA legislation and follows industry practices. Providing four hours allows Wheel-Trans to offer your cancelled trip to someone else to ensure all customers who wish to travel get to travel.
Trips which are booked individually are not all cancelled if you miss the first ride, only trips booked together are cancelled as our system assumes that if you are unable to get the first ride, then you will not be at your second pick up location. You can always call us on the Priority Line to keep those trips.
Yes, in case of late pickups, you can leave after 20 minutes and it will not be counted as a no show.
- “Call in to book a trip, get disconnected from the automated service and you want to know why. Is it a software problem or a phone company problem?”
- “The RideLine was not working. It kept saying that the password was not correct.”
- “In the last few weeks I have had issues with not getting phone calls to my rides for the next day. I have had to phone at 5:30 in the morning when the TTC opens up, and some of the attendants have been annoyed because I'm not calling for same-day service but calling to find out my ride.”
- “When you call for reservation, it should be clear which number to press and not a lot of ads.”
- “When the automated service calls up with trip information it does not complete the whole message sometimes.”
We are working towards upgrading our IVR system, this will commence once the new phone system is in place. This upgrade will provide more features, options and better technology for our customers. Increase convenience and user friendliness.
We had some ongoing technical problems with our IVR which have been addressed and fixed. If you experience password problems with the IVR, please call our Customer Service department and they will assist you.
We will be upgrading our IVR to give more options and clear communication.
Wheel-Trans online booking
- “How can we remove a "Recent Location" without phoning Wheel-Trans customer service? Sometimes it's been a place I've gone to only once.”
- “Make online booking easier/simpler.”
- “You can cancel an occasional trip online but why not all trips?”
- “If I can book online, why can't I cancel online? Phoning in is annoying”
- “Would it be possible to have any late and/or no show penalties added to our profile so we ourselves can keep track?”
- “On website, "Place of Worship" should have a write in box as does a store, restaurant, and medical. Often the place of worship isn't obvious, can be a storefront or part of an industrial area or plaza. Often have to help the driver look for the place.”
- “There is no “unit number” field when using online booking. Can you add it?”
- “Allow us to enter companions online and be put on a waiting list instead of having to call in and tying up phone lines the day of our ride or after 9pm the day before.”
- “I am of the generation that is not computer-literate, so it seems to me that the further down the line we go, the less service we get from human beings. Is it possible you could hire a few people instead of a machine? I would prefer that.”
- “I would like to know when the computer is down and wait too long on the phone. Who can I call? Phone number please?”
- “The phone system is completely busy. Perhaps for people that use online, we could be able to modify things ourselves or have a call-back system, or if reservations is busy and the customer service is busy, other lines could pick up the slack”
Currently, the online system does not have the ability for customers to erase recent rides, however, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our customer service staff will remove the location for you. Our online system allows you to cancel any trip up to 7 days in advanced. For regular scheduled trips currently a Reservationist can assist you with this. After a certain time before the trip, the online system is locked. We are looking at upgrading our online booking system to provide customers with more options.
Thank you for the suggestions about improving online booking. We have added this to our efficiency list when sourcing new software.
While we are working on improvements, help videos that are available through the online booking website might be of some assistance while we work to develop the new system.
We will always have reservations and customers service agents for our customers to call and speak with.
If the computers are down, we can still book your trips manually. The only difference is that you will not receive confirmation during the time of call. Instead either the night before or you can always check online/IVR. If wait times are lengthy please be patient with us and we will assist you at our earliest convenience, we are upgrading our telephone systems soon for your convenience.
Wheel-Trans smartphone app
- “Wheel-Trans should work like uber. Customers should be able to track where the bus is versus having to call in. You are able to see where the regular TTC buses are.”
- “Provide GPS location as to where our bus ride is so we know how much longer we have to wait and ensure they haven't forgotten us.”
- “I am just wondering if there is any thought towards a Wheel-Trans app that has a predictive destination instead of having to punch in the address and the street and the direction, and where it could automatically come up with its own idea about where you want to go.”
- “When will the 'uber-like' smart phone features be in place? They sound great!”
Our new scheduling and dispatch system will include new user interfaces including smart phone technology and apps. This will provide customers more options and is expected to be in place in the next few years.
Wheel-Trans fares / PRESTO
- “How will PRESTO work with Wheel-Trans?”
- “PRESTO customers in taxis shouldn't be marked down as "no payment" if the PRESTO reader isn't working.”
- “Accessible taxis are supposed to have PRESTO card readers but they don't, and I have gotten into arguments because I shouldn’t have to carry other fares if I already have a PRESTO card. So they put me down as a “no fare” and I say, please put me down as a PRESTO user. And my commute is becoming very stressful on account of this.”
- “It is more convenient, I think we should pay a little bit more. Maybe it should be a fee yearly. I think we are so many people using this, and it won't be a big thing, you know, to pay a little bit more to have a better service.”
- “Why doesn't Wheel-Trans carry transfers now that people can switch?”
- “When will PRESTO be active on Wheel-Trans sedan taxis?”
PRESTO works on Wheel-Trans the same as conventional TTC, however, Wheel-Trans drivers use a hand held device to better support our customer's needs.
PRESTO has a responsibility to ensure the readers are functioning to permit customers to pay their fares for their trips. The “No Payment” marking is the way Wheel-Trans keeps track of the number of fares we were unable to collect for follow up with PRESTO. Every accessible taxi has a PRESTO reader which must be functioning. We will send a reminder to the accessible taxi contractors to ensure drivers have them turned on. If there are specific incidents, please let us know so that we can investigate.
Wheel-Trans is public transit and there will be no surcharge to offer rides to customers who require accessible transportation via the TTC.
When transferring at subway stations, Wheel-Trans customers are usually dropped off in fare-paid areas. If they are dropped off in unpaid areas, we ask our customers to pay their fare once inside the subway station or onboard the next conventional vehicle. Fares paid with a PRESTO card enable to readers in the station or onboard other TTC vehicles to tell if a fare has already been paid for that journey.
We continue to work with PRESTO to determine a solution for our sedan taxis.
Other Wheel-Trans Questions
- “How will I use Wheel-Trans? Do they text or email? I don't have a TTY system.”
- “Manufacturers of power wheelchairs and scooters don’t put tie downs on their machines, as they don't intend to have their machines used in Wheel-Trans or taxis. Do we all have to transfer to a seat? There are not enough seats on a bus for this.”
- “On one way streets, can you work more closely with parking enforcement so that Wheel-Trans drivers don't get blocked by people who've parked on the wrong side making it impossible for buses to get through”
- “Ability to submit companion application form to any Wheel-Trans operator. Eliminate the need for photo ID on card. Qualification is on record”
- “The TTC shouldn't have the rule that first for the bus drivers also they have to be conventional drivers, but people who passionately want to be a Wheel-Trans bus driver.”
We have many options for customers including direct calling, IVR Rideline, Online booking, TTY and customers always have the option to contact us through Bell Relay as well. We are working on introducing email, text and e-chat communications to further expand accessible offerings.
We support the viewpoint that medical assistive mobility devices should be regulated and have standard securement points. Transferring to a seat and using all the safety belts is highly recommended and preferred. Customers may request a notation added to their file as “must transfer” which will allow for the room to transfer every time when on the bus.
As the City of Toronto has many Parking Enforcement Officers throughout the city, it is difficult to ensure motorists abide by the parking bylaws on every street in the city. Our new bus is smaller and has the ability to travel the downtown core in areas that are narrow and overcrowded.
The Support Person Card program is administered by TTC Customer Service. Photo identification is required to protect the integrity of the program.
We do not have a rule that mandates candidates must be Operators on our conventional transit prior to becoming Operators for Wheel-Trans. TTC accepts new applicants from outside the organization to become Wheel-Trans drivers.