Customer Comments and Staff Responses
Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit. Customer comments are accompanied by a summary of the current status of each issue.
Subway station design
- “TTC needs to improve on the gap between subway trains and platforms.”
- “I have noticed that many subway station stairs consist of two colours that are very close in shade, such as light gray and dark gray. May I suggest that there be a high contrast line painted at the edge of the stairs so as to delineate the steps both facing the stars and descending? I often find myself staring down at my feet and descending slowly to the chagrin of many other TTC users.”
- “I want to use the subway more when I can't take Wheel-Trans and I find that’s difficult because there isn’t a bathroom at every subway station.”
- “In subway station elevators there's a button that you can press to contact a staff person; however, as a Deaf person, I'm not able to communicate through that technology. What would be an accessible solution?”
The TTC is aware that the existing horizontal and vertical gaps between trains and subway platforms can be challenging for customers using mobility devices and strollers when entering and exiting trains, and it is currently working on a program to correct the issue to the best extent possible. Construction work has now been completed on several subway platforms, including at Eglinton and St Clair Stations in both directions, and will continue at other subway stations in 2020. However, in order to account for the side-to-side sway of trains as they enter stations, a small gap between trains and platforms will always be necessary.
There would be potential benefits to customers of using step edge highlighters (painted or otherwise). This will be further reviewed by TTC to determine installation and maintenance feasibility.
Incorporation of public washrooms at existing in-line subway 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. Customers may wish to take advantage of the two-hour transfer which enables customers to exit the subway system to use nearby facilities and re-enter again without paying another fare.
While TTC elevators are not currently equipped with equipment to facilitate two-way communication for people who are Deaf, absence of voice communication irrespective of the reason will lead to the same action by TTC staff: dispatching of emergency crews to assist.
Conventional bus design
- “Dimensions of my mobility device require more space.”
- “Exterior announcements on buses don't always work, poor audio. Don't turn off audio announcements.”
- “Can we turn off the blue lights on the buses that are out of service or under private event? Those of us who are visually impaired count on the blue lights when buses are coming.”
- “Have a rear ramp on buses for scooters or wheelchairs.”
- “Warning lights should be flickering to alert the deaf that we need to sit down.”
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. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to accommodate large electric scooters given the large dimensions and wide turning radii of these devices.
Wheel-Trans will always be available in the future for anyone who cannot use conventional vehicles.
Exterior Route Announcement (ERA) audio is never turned off. The ERA system is checked daily before the buses go in scheduled service. Systems that are identified as not working properly, or that are inaudible, should be reported to the operator who will arrange for an assessment and corrective action when the bus is returned to the home garage
Currently there is no way of automatically turning off the blue lights when the bus is “out of service”. This would have to be done by the operator who is focused on other matters of concern when operating the bus. The cost to retrofit approximately 2000 buses with wiring and switches would not be cost effective.
TTC will review the suggestion to provide a rear ramp on buses for future orders. However, this may not be practical given that most accessible bus stops are designed to provide accessible maneuvering space at the front door only.
It is not practical to flicker lights when the bus is about to move as on-board systems have no way of knowing that the bus is going to move until the accelerator is depressed. Additionally, rapidly flickering/flashing lights are not recommended as this phenomenon is known to trigger epileptic seizures in some people. All customers should take all necessary precautions in case an unexpected traffic event occurs. All TTC bus Operators are professional drivers trained to operate the buses in a secure and comfortable mode. A TTC bus Operator cannot ask a customer to sit down or not whether it is a person with hearing disabilities or not.
- “There should be more stop request buttons on the low floor streetcars.”
- “The floor on the low floor streetcar should be of a different color where there is a slope, especially toward the doors.”
- “I took the new streetcar once and I noticed the ramp was extremely steep to get up and even to get down. Are they planning on changing that so the ramp isn't so steep?”
- “The aisle between the sets of four facing seats is too narrow.”
Based on customer feedback, TTC has started a technical feasibility study for the addition of stop request buttons on streetcars, and for the addition of a coloured and tactile strip around the perimeter of the slope of the doorway.
The ramp length is constrained by the limited storage space under the vehicle. For that reason, the operator is available at the ramp should a customer require assistance.
Unfortunately, the design of the aisle on low-floor streetcars between the four facing seats is constrained by the structure to accommodate the wheels and cannot be made wider.
Transit stop design / location
- “The building I live in is midway between two bus stops. They're farther apart than I can get to, so I can't leave the apartment without getting Wheel-Trans.”
- “At Bathurst and Fort York the sidewalk is too high meaning I can't use my scooter to get off and on the streetcar.”
TTC Service Standards are designed to align transit stops planning with the needs of customers with limited mobility. TTC has adopted much more stringent stop catchment criteria of 400 metres instead of the industry standard of 600 metres. TTC also calculates walking distances at a much slower average rate of speed of 1 metre per second instead of the industry norm of 1.2 metres per second, to better encapsulate the average walking speeds of all customers in a stop catchment area, including those with limited mobility.
Stops are also limited by the surrounding infrastructure such as the presence of protected pedestrian crossings afforded by traffic signals, stop signs and pedestrian crossovers. There may be cases where customers believe a transit stop is relatively simple to install at their midblock location, however, TTC staff will not support new midblock stops if adequate crossing protection is not available in the immediate area.
TTC also adopts minimum stop spacing criteria of every 300 to 400 metres when placing transit stops to balance local customer access to transit service and the reliable journey of those customers already on board transit vehicles to reduce the frustrating “stop-and-go” experience of customers on buses serving closely placed stops. TTC staff will generally not support new stops if they fall within this 300 to 400 metre stop spacing between surrounding transit stops.
TTC continues work to make transit stops accessible and has plans and funding to make hundreds more stops accessible over the next few years. TTC staff are aware of stop accessibility concerns at Bathurst and Fort York and are engaged in ongoing discussions with the City of Toronto to remedy the situation as part of bridge reconstruction work in 2020.
Customer Education on Accessibility
- “Customers are not giving up Priority Seating for those who need it on trains.”
- “There should be fewer advertisments and more signs about priority seating.”
- “When people in scooters and wheelchairs board trains, other people don’t move out of the way.”
- “There needs to be an education program about blocking doors to trains and buses. This slows boarding and unboarding.”
- “Do TTC streetcars have ramps?”
When space permits, we do continue to run the Share the Space ad campaign in vehicles. There are priority seat signs posted above all priority seats. We also remind customers via public address announcements in subway stations and using social media about the blue priority seats and about being mindful of those using mobility devices.
TTC has started to put decals on the platform at stations including Bloor-Yonge and St George to guide people on where to stand and is continuously refreshing our public awareness and courtesy programs. Signage inside buses does encourage customer to move back and automated announcements also encourage customer to move into the interior of the bus.
Better Information On Vehicles At Stops
- “They need to fix announcements on buses. You can't understand what the street names are because they are not pronounced properly.”
- “Improve communication between aboveground and subway when there is a service interruption. Use your vehicle operators and make announcements.”
- “About people not wanting to get up from blue seats, I found on buses that the announcements, saying "For customer convenience, please move back, thank you," are effective. Could something similar be added regarding blue seats?”
- “The large print maps on Line 2 are backwards to the direction of the train.”
- “We still have the problem that when you're on a subway train and the operator needs to tell you something, you only get a sign that says "Please listen to the operator," which I'm sure you can appreciate that as a hard of hearing person, it's not a particularly useful piece of information.”
- “I'm hard of hearing, and the subway announcements and the operator announcements on the subway, they talk so fast, you can't understand. Even my friend who is full hearing, he couldn't understand it.”
- “The shelter at 1315 Neilson Road has the wrong stop showing on the glass. It says Sewells Road, which is actually the stop before.”
The TTC recently completed the installation of a new announcement system on all buses which relies on text to speech technology. This system will eventually allow TTC Transit Control to send automated audible and visual announcements about detours, delays, emergencies, and other service adjustments directly to buses. Upon the initial implementation of the system the TTC has attempted to match the announcements made on the new system to those on the old system. However, we recognize that there remain some outstanding issues with pronunciations and we are continuing to fine tune the system to address these. TTC will also be adding an automated announcement to the new system on buses in order to allow operators to remind people about the blue priority seats.
We do typically send mass texts to the buses during subway service interruptions and we ask operators to make announcements. The new bus announcement system will enable TTC to do so more effectively going forward.
We did explore the idea of designing the new Line 2 maps to follow the direction of the trains on the platform. After receiving feedback from user groups, we determined that the top of the map should always be the direction the train is headed.
We will also review and remind our staff to make clear announcements in the subway system. In order to accommodate such the request to provide text service disruption announcements on subway trains major train communication system components and software must be significantly upgraded with new technology devices, available on the market now. This is under executive review at the moment.
TTC has passed this feedback along to City of Toronto staff who are responsible for street furniture, including transit stop shelters.
Better Information Online
- “When I look on the TTC website about priority seating, it says the blue seats, but I'm totally blind. I can't see the colour, and there is no direction where those of us who are blind can find the blue seats.”
TTC will revise the Easier Access section of the website to better describe Priority Seating.
Information in Alternate Formats
- “Make TTC printed material available in different accessible formats like Braille and large print formats”
TTC will consider this feedback when producing materials going forward. All material on the TTC website is accessible. TTC can also produce material in a specific format on request. Refer to TTC’s Accessible Customer Service Policy.
Better Information in Subway Stations
- “As a hard of hearing person, I find that the automated voice announcements on subway platforms are extremely difficult to understand.”
- “Finding the series of elevators needed at subways is difficult. Can there be bluetooth wayfinding available? Virtual video tours? On-line maps that are easy to understand?”
- “Elevators in buildings accessing TTC. Please encourage them to tag their elevators with TTC logos.”
- “When there is a subway closure why is there no sign saying Wheel-Trans available?”
- “We have print signage in all the subway stations and bus bays but we don't have accessible signage in any kind of consistent location. This would be a really significant asset, for example, at Kennedy where there are multiple bays. Some indication in tactile print or Braille of which bus is at which bay would be immensely helpful.”
The existing public address system is over 20 years old and we will be updating it in 2020-2021. The new system is expected to bring several improvements and features, including better sound clarity for our customers.
We are currently testing Bluetooth beacon wayfinding technology at St Clair Station. We will be reviewing this technology and its funding in the future.
Our a-frame posters used during planned subway closures do have Wheel-Trans available signs. We will also add it on the other orange signage used during planned closures. Note that Wheel-Trans is not scheduled for early subway closures, but a vehicle can be requested if needed.
Where possible, the TTC does coordinate with building owners to have TTC accessibility elevator standards applied to connecting elevators. A recent example is the new third party elevator at St Patrick Station at the northwest corner entrance.
TTC is investigating new ways to improve wayfinding for customers with vision loss, including tactile floor pathways and signage at bus terminals. This will be tested at York Mills Station in 2020.
Better training: bus/streetcar/subway
- “TTC bus drivers won't lift the wheelchair seat. Drivers either ask the wheelchair user to lift the seat or get customers to lift them so drivers don't have to get up.”
- “Some drivers do not make it easy for me to get on and off as there is a wide space between the bus and the sidewalk.”
- “TTC drivers of new streetcars drive way too fast and then have to slam on the breaks. One of my friends went flying when the TTC driver stopped and hurt her shoulder”
- “At out-of-service stops on Dundas Street, such as the Chestnut Street stop, it's announced as a stop, but right now, it's temporarily out of service. We hear nothing from the driver and people have selected that stop to get off, and to walk back from Bay Street, it's quite a hike.”
- “There is not enough time to board subway trains before the doors close on wheelchairs.”
All bus Operators are trained to ask customers if they would like to be secured before they even board the vehicle. This allows the Operator the opportunity to prepare the securement area should the customer wish to be secured. Our Operators are also trained on how to deal with difficult situations and emergencies. All bus Operators are trained to stop 4 to 6 inches from the curb under favorable conditions. If the 4 to 6 inches cannot be achieved safely the procedure is then to stop the bus far enough away from the curb so customers will have to step directly onto the road which prevents customers from inadvertently slipping and falling.
Some hard brake applications can’t be avoided depending on the circumstance (e.g., if an Operator is avoiding a collision). There is, however, a bit of a tail swing on the low floor LRV’s. There was a Priority Seat positioned in the back of the car. We have identified that this is not the most optimal position for that seat and have had it removed. We have also implemented a reduced speed rule for turns. Operators entering turns are permitted to do so at a speed no greater than 10 km/h. Audits are currently being conducted for compliance.
Operators are required to call all service stops if the automated system is not working. We recognize that there was a gap in the policy regarding stops that are not in service, and therefore we are in the process of formalizing a practice to advise customers of temporary stop removals.
TTC will address the “time to board” issue with a campaign to our subway operators.
For any concerns with individual trips where the above policies are not followed, please report as much information as possible to TTC Customer Service, such as the four digit vehicle number, route, date and time, Operator ID number (on the internal display screen on buses only) and we will address the issue directly with the Operator and provide refresher education.
Fares for people with disabilities and seniors
- “The Fair Pass Program to reduce fares for people on ODSP/OW is very welcome. Please reduce this rate further to make our essential transportation service financially accessible to our poorest riders.”
- “We should eliminate cash fare eventually”
- “Is TTC doing something about the GO co-transit discount?”
In 2020, the TTC will be under taking a 5-year fare policy review and 10-year collection outlook which will look at varying options for fare payment, including the future of accepting cash.
Changes to the Fair Pass Program are at the discretion of the City of Toronto as they are the administrators and funders of the program. Discussions are still on-going with the Province and Metrolinx on the future of the TTC-GO co-fare.
PRESTO fare payment
- “When is the TTC going to improve on and update paying machines?”
- “Can we add more PRESTO readers to the streetcars so boarding gets a little easier?”
- “Why are attendants misusing the PRESTO Free Pass on Wheel-Trans? They're letting three or four attendants with one rider. Why is that?”
Metrolinx is working to improve the availability and reliability of the PRESTO card readers as part of a continuous improvement initiative. The system enhancements that have been rolled out have resulted in some improvements. Additional enhancements and changes are being planned to bring further improvements in service to customers.
Every streetcar and bus has a PRESTO card reader installed at each entrance door. The current plan is focused on improving the reliability and availability of this equipment to meet the established targets.
Anyone is welcome to apply for a TTC Support Person Assistance Card. This card allows one support person to board the TTC (including Wheel-Trans) at no cost. The customer and any other additional companions are required to pay TTC fare.
Safety and security
- “Transit fare inspectors are overdressed / look like police.”
The transit fare inspectors have been dressed down from their original grey uniforms to a more customer friendly version. They do continue to wear a protective vest for safety reasons.
More elevators and escalators
- “We need more than one elevator at each subway station so if one is broken, there is a second one available. Do planned accessibility upgrades take this into account?”
- “With the direction of the Family of Services and the 10-Year Strategy and more and more people using the conventional system, is there a way to start the conversation about adding a secondary elevator into all the stations? I know this might sound like a wish-list item, but when you factor in the increased volume, the population over the next ten years, mothers and strollers, people with luggage, service breakdowns, maintenance, I believe that this is going to be a barrier for a lot people in the future.”
- “Escalators are not always in both directions. For example, Royal York Station only has one escalator up to street.”
The mandate of the TTC’s current Easier Access Phase III project is to provide a single accessible path (elevators and other accessibility features) from street to subway platform(s) at the remaining stations that do not yet have an accessible path. TTC recognizes the increase in demand on the subway system and its accessibility features with the Family of Services, increases in ridership and changing demographics. Therefore, TTC is initiating a study, in consultation with ACAT, to identify subway stations that would most benefit from an additional accessible path and / or elevator(s). The study will identify a priority list of stations based on a series of criteria. Implementation of additional accessibility improvements in future years would be subject to funding availability. TTC also coordinates with developers for new connections to TTC stations and any opportunities for additional accessibility features. TTC is also reviewing its design standards with respect to accessible paths at new subway stations.
Where there is only one escalator serving a TTC platform, our policy is generally to operate these escalators in the up direction, as more people have difficult travelling in the up direction without an escalator. With respect to Royal York Station, while it is not feasible to install more escalators due to the space these devices require, elevator construction was completed at Royal York Station in December 2019, which provides customers with an alternative to stairs.
Low-floor streetcar service
“When will the new streetcars will begin running on routes 505, 506, and 511?”
All streetcar routes are accessible as of December 2019. However, some routes will continue to temporarily operate with buses in the short term, until new streetcars can be procured, as described in the TTC’s 5-Year Service Plan.
Community bus service
- “Why is there not a Community Bus in the downtown core to offer same day and Family of Services rides on demand to hospitals, senior centres, shopping centres and accessible subway stations? This could help reduce many of the downtown door to door rides.”
- “Expand community bus routes such as the Victoria Park and York Mills area.”
- “There is no community bus in the Bloor and Ossington area.”
TTC understands that public transit, and the Community Bus specifically, provides customers with opportunities to access medical, shopping, cultural and social activities. The primary purpose of Community Bus routes is to divert conditionally-eligible Wheel-Trans customers who would otherwise use door-to-door Wheel-Trans service. As the Family of Services strategy is further implemented, including re-registration and conditional trip matching, TTC will review requests for new and/or modified community bus services and make changes as needed to better serve our customers.
Bus service planning
- “Do not take the buses off Yonge Street in the afternoon.”
- “TTC buses get packed with baby strollers and get congested. What can be done about this?”
The service on 97 Yonge changes throughout the day, with service operating all-day between Steeles and Davisville Station, and an additional service operating between Queens Quay and York Mills Station in the peak periods. There is also an additional service that operates between Davisville Station and York Mills Station via Yonge Boulevard in the off-peak periods. This service pattern provides customers with an alternative during the peak periods, when subway service is busier, to travel to the downtown core, while maintaining a local connection at all other times to the subway stations that are spaced further apart.
The TTC is a mobility option for customers with all kinds of needs, including families that use baby strollers. The TTC constantly monitors and reviews ridership data, and may adjust service levels depending on customer demand, relative to the TTC’s Service Standards. We will review the opportunity of adjusting TTC Service Standards to better reflect mobility devices and strollers on-board vehicles and how that may affect the adjustment of service levels.
Shelters and seating at transit stops
- “Who is responsible for cleaning bus shelters? The ones in downtown Toronto can be quite messy.”
- “There needs to be seating at bus stops.”
Seating and shelters are the responsibility of the City of Toronto. TTC will be working with the City to improve stop amenities, including shelters and seating, at key transit stop locations throughout the City, as part of the TTC’s TTC’s 5-Year Service Plan and 10-Year Outlook. TTC encourages customers to contact the City directly regarding any specific shelter or seating requests by calling or writing 311 Toronto.
- “How often do you do maintenance checks on elevators at all stations?”
- “Why were both elevators shut down at Scarborough Centre for three days at the start of August?”
- “I would just like to say that I had a couple events back-to-back days where the elevator was not working, and it wasn't properly announced, and I got to the station and got off the train, and I was not able to use the elevator. I had to take the subway back further in the direction I'm not going.”
- “Buses 8720 and 8937 have the restraining belt broken.”
Elevators are checked for cleanliness by Stations staff on almost daily basis. From a maintenance perspective all elevators are checked, at minimum, on a monthly basis. Maintenance is performed outside of customer rush hours. TTC accommodates customers and puts the elevator in service temporarily during maintenance sessions if it is safe to do so. Additionally, TTC has crews available during all operating hours who respond to elevator outages and perform required unplanned/emergency maintenance to return elevators to service as soon as possible.
Both elevators at Scarborough Centre Station were out of service on the dates noted in order to prevent customer entrapment due to overheating of the elevator machine room, Once the HVAC system servicing the machine room was repaired, both elevators were returned to service.
TTC recommends that customers check the Lift Line at 416-539-5438, visit the Service Advisories section of the TTC website, or sign up for automated e-Alerts, to check on the status of elevators before beginning a trip as TTC updates real-time information on the status of elevators whenever there is planned or unplanned maintenance.
The condition of the securement devices on these buses was reported to the buses home garage and immediately addressed. Customers are encouraged to report these problems to the bus Operator every time they observe it for corrective action when the buses are returned to the garage.
Wheel-Trans Vehicle Design
- “Get rid of new buses, ramps are too steep. The turn is too narrow.”
- “My walker doesn’t fit properly in the new Wheel-Trans bus and people can't get around it.”
The new ProMaster vehicle ramps meet all Provincial standards, even when the ramps are engaged both at the curb and at locations without curbs. Although the ProMaster is a smaller version of a traditionally-sized Wheel-Trans bus, it can accommodate two mobility devices and most walkers do fit within the confines of the vehicle. The walker, if possible, should be folded and secured.
Wheel-Trans taxi maintenance
- “Accessible taxis need to be replaced. Some of them are in bad shape.”
- “Seatbelts sometimes do not work in contracted taxis. Some have foot rests, some do not.”
Accessible taxis, by contract, are subject to City of Toronto licensing standards, including mechanical fitness. The vehicles are inspected by the contractor a minimum of twice annually. Defects identified must be corrected in order to pass the inspection and remain in service. Vehicles are allowed to operate for up to seven years. Additionally, when there is a report of a vehicle with a defect, the contractor is contacted and requested to have an inspection to determine the mechanical status of the vehicle. The Contractor's Mobile Supervisor is dispatched directly to ensure compliance.
Wheel-Trans cross-boundary travel
- “Make some kind of cross-border solution between Wheel-Trans and York Region that is practical and gets us to our destination on time.”
- “When can Wheel-Trans go north of Steeles?”
- “There needs to be a better Wheel-Trans connection between Brampton and Toronto.”
TTC staff recently presented a study on regional transfers to the TTC Board. As a result, the Board has asked that staff in all Regions work together to find a solution to wait times and to find cost sharing opportunities to improve the customer experience. Wheel-Trans vehicles may go up to 1 kilometre north of Steeles Avenue. If you require Wheel-Trans service north of Steeles Avenue, please communicate with TTC Wheel-Trans Customer Service to arrange for your file information to be sent to Mobility Plus, which is York Region's public para-transit system that operates north of Steeles Avenue.
Brampton customers who have accessible needs are provided services by Peel TransHelp. This service has several locations where customers can transfer between Toronto and Peel Region.
- “Can you send my ride for medical appointments a little early? Sometimes the bus is late or the elevators in my building are slow.”
- “Sometimes the taxi is full and sometimes I have the luxury of having a whole bus to myself from point A to B. I don't understand the logistics of sending a bus for just me with a cane.”
- “Why is it a five minute wait for the Wheel-Trans driver but 30 minutes for us to wait?”
- “Currently we can book our rides as a pick-up time or a drop-off time. Unfortunately, not all sedan taxis are getting a drop-off time, which could make us late for appointments.”
- “The 30 minute "window times" for a Wheel-Trans ride in the morning don't lock in until 9 pm the night before. This makes it hard to confirm arrangements with a support person. Would you please lock in the times when they are booked?”
- “Improve gate 7 at Rogers Centre during events. Sometimes the taxi can’t get to the gate and it’s difficult for me to walk that far.”
When booking to a medical appointment, we encourage all customers to book an arrival at least 15 minutes before the appointment time. Our Reservationists are trained to book trips for medical appointments with additional time to account for any unforeseen delays that may occur during the trip.
Wheel-Trans schedules are arranged by time request, geographical area, and mobility devices used. We try to accommodate our customers who do not use large devices in one of our contracted vehicles; however, if none are available, we would provide a Wheel-Trans bus.
We will remind all contractors to provide estimated arrival times. Wheel-Trans operators have assigned run sheets and they try their best to run to schedule without delays. Unfortunately, vehicles may run behind due to unforeseen circumstances and cause delays in service. We recommend contacting our Priority Line 30 minutes beyond the scheduled time to allow for the operator to attempt to arrive at the location. The operators are only able to wait a total of five minutes due to their following pick-ups and customers already on board.
We confirm the time frames after 9:00pm the night before because that is when we are able to confirm the vehicles for the following day. Vehicles and pick-up times assigned may still be subject to change due to sudden vehicle changes.
Due to the congestion at Rogers Centre, we provide service for customers on Bremner Boulevard as close as possible to Gate 7. We have restricted access, for security and safety reasons, and we work with the police and security to ensure that customers are provided safe trips to and from the Rogers Centre.
Wheel-Trans service reliability
- “When buses are late, adjustments are made and rides directed to other vehicles to get back to schedule, but this doesn’t seem to happen with vans. Please treat us like the buses so that we are on time.”
- “If we take a Family of Services subway trip and the elevator breaks down while we are on route, how will the Wheel-Trans driver who is waiting for us be notified before we get no-showed? Also, what is the stranded rider supposed to do?”
- “In the last two weeks, almost all of my rides have been a minimum of 25 minutes late. Drivers are saying that they're not being given enough time to go from one address to another. I'm trying to get to work in the mornings and I don't have 30 to 45 minutes to be waiting for each ride.”
Wheel-Trans strives to be on time for every ride. Staff will be reminded to make service adjustments on all vehicles.
Delays can occur on the conventional service, however, additional time is always built into the schedule so that the majority of time the customer will arrive at least 10 minutes before their Wheel-Trans pick-up. Should a major service delay occur, Wheel-Trans staff will update the Wheel-Trans pick-up times and make every attempt to contact the customer. If a customer misses their Wheel-Trans pick-up because of a delay, a no-show slip will be left by the operator, and the customer can contact the Priority Line to re-schedule another ride.
TTC Wheel-Trans is a shared ride, public service and we kindly ask for our customers' patience while riding with Wheel-Trans. It is not uncommon for our customers to be in a vehicle for an extended period of time; unforeseen circumstances can make this duration longer for the driver and the customers. Some unforeseen circumstances may include; traffic, construction/road closures, weather and other customers boarding/off-boarding. We recommend scheduling your ride request to arrive 30 minutes prior to your actual desired time to allow for delays in our service.
Wheel-Trans trip length
- “Why do some rides take 1.5 or even 3 hours?”
Customer trips that are booked with a "departure" time as opposed to "arrival" may take longer to reach their destination. Depending on the vehicle of the trip and the length of trip there may be additional passengers picked-up and dropped off along the way. However, none of our trips should be scheduled for 3 hours. Please report the specific examples to Wheel-Trans Customer Service if a trip exceeds 90 minutes. This way, we can investigate and ensure trips are accommodated more efficiently.
Wheel-Trans eligibility and Family of Services
- “What 's the difference between conditional and unconditional eligibility?”
- “I am concerned that I will lose my eligibility and this will create difficulty for shopping trips.”
- “What if a condition is "unable to use in rain" but weather can't be known very far ahead. How can that be accommodated on Family of Services?”
- “What happens if you've been deemed conditional but then need door-to-door service in winter because your wheelchair doesn't work well in snow/cold or the sidewalk is not cleared?”
- “A few years ago when you first introduced "Family of Services" you promised no one would be forced to use it. Has the TTC changed its position on this?”
- “My vision is less than 5 percent. Wheel-Trans sent me to an assessment at Sunnybrook Hospital, where one of the occupational therapists found that I am not eligible. I appealed and received conditional eligibility. My suggestion: please send people with vision loss to CNIB to assess them because CNIB because they better understand issues faced by people with vision loss.”
- “I've been appealing my eligibility decision but for some reason, even though I said that I have trouble travelling through the snow, it comes back saying I'm not eligible for winter service.”
Family of Services offers more travel options, flexibility and spontaneity to customers as it encompasses a combination of Wheel-Trans and conventional transit such as accessible bus, streetcar and/or subway. Any customer may choose to book their trip using Family of Services.
In order to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and to ensure a fair and equitable approach, all-Wheel-Trans customers who were approved for Wheel-Trans service before January 1, 2017 will need to be re-registered. If a customer qualifies for unconditional or temporary eligibility, they can travel using door-to-door service for all of their trips, or they can choose to travel using the Family of Services. Customers that qualify for conditional eligibility, will have access to door-to-door service when their conditions are present, but will be required to travel using the Family of Services when these conditions are not present.
In relation to Wheel-Trans eligibility, the AODA, under Specialized Transportation Service Providers, does not outline specific disabilities that would or would not be eligible for a particular type of service, just that if the customer’s disability creates a barrier that prevents them from using conventional transit, they would be eligible for some type of Wheel-Trans service. Under the TTC's AODA compliant eligibility process, specific conditions support customer disabilities and the need for Wheel-Trans door-to-door service when these conditions are present. Winter service is assigned to customers that have disabilities intensified by cold weather. Precipitation (rain/snow) is not a factor that is taken into consideration when determining eligibility. This is because conditional customers are offered a first mile-last mile connection to or rom an accessible subway station, or transit stop, all of which will be cleared of snow and/or salted to accommodate pedestrian traffic.
Each eligibility decision is determined on a case-by-case basis, so without looking at the initial application and collecting more information, determining if something was amiss would not be possible. The organization that completes our Functional Assessments use only registered Occupational Therapists who specialize in understanding not only the medical and physical limitations of a disability, but how that affects an applicant’s ability to navigate the community. They are all qualified and trained on how the Functional Assessments are to be carried out and the tests they should be administering. Should a customer have concerns about their eligibility category or feel that they require additional conditions added to their profile, they should contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service to request that a functional assessment or appeal panel interview be scheduled.
- “Why can't we have 2-hour same day booking instead of 4 hours?”
- “Can the minimum time between the rides be shortened? It is too long if one has a short appointment.”
- “Why isn’t our ride accommodation met as to which side we sit in taxis?
- “I've been often told that I can't request a bus. Is that true? I travel with a walker and groceries and not every taxi likes to pick up my walker. They say it's too heavy or too big.
- “Some Wheel-Trans taxis aren't able to handle our stuff.”
We require a minimum of 4 hours to attempt to arrange and locate a vehicle to accommodate your ride request. Although we are not a guaranteed service, our dispatch team work within their ability to provide your ride request at or around the time requested. All customers are welcome to submit their trip requests up to 7 days in advance to ensure the best opportunity is given to your ride request. We also require a minimum of 45 minutes between scheduled arrival time and scheduled departure time, in order to allow for delays in service with the arrival time to your departure.
All seats on the Wheel-Trans vehicles are available at a first come, first service basis. If you wish to sit in a specific seat of the vehicle, you may communicate with the driver and the driver will attempt to accommodate you if the seat is open and available.
Wheel-Trans provides vehicles to suit the customer and their mobility device. If you are unable to ride in a certain vehicle due to medical reasons, please communicate with Wheel-Trans Customer Service and we will explain the medical documentation required to potentially alter your file. Wheel-Trans has a Carry-On Policy in place; customers are responsible for carrying and managing for their personal belongings (including groceries). A customer can book the ride with a companion or support person to assist.
Wheel-Trans no show and cancellation policy
- “Wheel-Trans penalty of 1 week, 2 weeks, or more hurts us in getting around.”
- “Life Happens penalty puts us in distress.”
The purpose of the late cancellation and no show policy is to encourage consideration among customers when booking/cancelling their trips because of the adverse consequences associated with these occurrences. Wheel-Trans customers may face ride suspensions if they exceed more than 8 Life Happens Points within a calendar month. Life Happens Points accumulate for each ride cancelled within 4 hours of the trip (1 point) or if a ride is no showed or cancelled at the door (2 points). We will still accommodate medical trips for suspended customers; medical ride requests can be submitted one day in advance through the Reservations Department at 416-393-4222.
Wheel-Trans online booking
- “When can we see Life Happens points on the Wheel-Trans website.”
- “The online booking app's feature to modify a scheduled ride is constantly breaking. It will say you have changed your ride details but then reverts back to the original. When will this be fixed?”
- “Currently there is not a way to modify your ride from a round trip to a multi ride trip. Is this something that will be available in the future?”
Customers are able to track any cancellations or no shows through trip history on the Wheel-Trans self-booking website. We will investigate and ensure that the self-booking website is working properly. Wheel-Trans will be releasing a mobile app in 2020 that is designed for smartphones.
We allow customers to book three types of occasional trips on the self-booking website: one way, round trip, and multi trip. The ability to modify a trip is intended to allow the customer to request a change in time or possibly a location for the original trip request. Trip modification was created in our new system to assist in rescheduling minor changes and to try and maintain the rescheduled trip in place of the original request in the existing schedules. If a customer requires a trip type to change, the customer must cancel the original trip and reschedule based on the new occasional trip type. Large changes to the original trip type cannot usually be accommodated in the existing schedule and cannot be completed using the modify trip action.
Wheel-Trans smartphone app
- “When is the Wheel-Trans app releasing?”
- “When can we expect to see real-time info about where Wheel-Trans vehicles are located and real-time estimated arrival times?”
- “Due to construction in my building wait time for the elevator is too demanding and may cause a no show. Can't I receive a text?”
In order to ensure that the Wheel-Trans mobile app is working as expected, we will be releasing the app to a limited test group. We will be providing more information on how to become part of this test group in early 2020. We are also working with our service provider and our contracted services to give real time information regarding the expected arrival of your vehicle as well as any delays in service to our customers. We are hoping to trial this feature in late spring 2020.
Better information for Wheel-Trans Customers
- “We need better communication by email.”
The Wheel-Trans email team responds to all emails to their best ability in order of receipt. We do our best to respond to all concerns and provide additional links for further explanation when needed. We are also in the process of setting up email marketing campaigns which will allow us to regularly send important information and updates to our customers if they opt into this service.
Better customer service: Wheel-Trans
- “The Wheel-Trans drivers have the wrong name. They have another name that's close to my name, but it's not the name that I use. So they think it's fine, but for me, it's not acceptable.”
- “I wasn't able to get my bag returned that I had left. And I called and tried everything to get this bag returned.”
Wheel-Trans Operators refer to customer names on their run sheets and in their customer notes. If customers would like to request a specific name that is not listed in their file, then it can be updated or changed through Wheel-Trans Customer Service.
When a personal item is left behind in a Wheel-Trans vehicle, our staff try to locate the item and return it to the customer to our best ability. Please communicate with Wheel-Trans Customer service via phone or email if you believe you have lost a personal item on board one of our vehicles.
Better training: Wheel-Trans
- “I notice that a lot of drivers are driving well over speed limits because they are behind time.”
- “Drivers should not be able to use the computers while driving. The computers are distracting and cause drivers to take eyes off the road and possibly cause a collision.”
- “When the bus or minivan driver uses their cellphone, should it only be work-related? Sometimes I see them and they're talking to their friends or family members.”
- “Safety is a big concern, bus drivers driving very abruptly.”
- “Why are the contracted taxi operators not given the same accessibility training as TTC staff?”
- “Vans u-turn very sharply rather than going a longer route.”
- “Taxis sometimes refuse to help clients unless they have a wheelchair or walker and refuse to assist person with cane. They act like a taxi service and don't come out to help unless we say we are not okay on our own.”
Wheel-Trans Operators and contracted services must adhere to all Provincial regulations, including speed limits. Wheel-Trans Operators do use the mobile data terminal for schedule updates and communications. As a public transit service, they are allowed to communicate while driving. Any other devices used while operating a vehicle are strictly prohibited, including personal cellphones. Wheel-Trans would never communicate with an Operator on their cellphone. Wheel-Trans Operators are also trained to operate their vehicles in a smooth manner, while maneuvering through the City of Toronto. If you observe any driver using a cellphone or operating erratically, please contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service to file a complaint.
The training of Contracted Services drivers includes the same elements as the Wheel-Trans Bus training program. TTC’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) audits and evaluates both the initial and refresher training provided to the Contracted drivers. Situations where a contracted driver is not providing proper service should be reported to Wheel-Trans Customer Service. The complaint can then be investigated and where issues are identified, targeted refresher training can be delivered.
All drivers, including contracted drivers, are trained to escort customers to and from the first accessible door of the pickup or drop off, providing light assistance to the customer regardless of the type of mobility device involved. When a driver has failed to escort the customer, this should be communicated in detail to Customer Service. All reported incidents will be investigated. Changes are being included in the next contracts to improve driver sensitivity and customer service for all drivers. This will be included in the drivers refresher training.
- “What are we going to be talking about after the 2025 AODA deadline in terms of accessibility?”
- “When is the Eglinton LRT is going to be completed? When is the Sheppard LRT is going to be started and completed?”
- “Somebody expressed their worry that there will be no “blue seats” to identify priority seats on Line 5 Eglinton.”
With respect to the subway system, TTC will begin a study for Phase 4 of it's Easier Access Program in 2020, with the intent to determine where additional investment in accessibility features, such as second elevators, would be of the greatest benefit to the most number of people. TTC will also be looking at new innovations that could further improve accessibility for people of varying abilities.
These LRT projects are being constructed by Metrolinx. More information is available at the Metrolinx website: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/greaterregion/projects/Default.aspx