A presentation was made by Aislin O’Hara, Desrianne McIlwrick, Louise Riggi, Brian Putre, and Daniel Waldman on the new Travel Training Pilot Program.
So far 110 customers have participated in the Pilot Program and 26 completed one-on-one sessions. Eight more outreach sessions are planned. Participants from all demographics have participated in the pilot including Daniel Waldman, the youngest participant at 17 years old, and Vivian, the oldest participant at 92 years old.
The purpose of the pilot is to implement this new type of program, measure its impacts, and eventually roll it out as permanent long-term initiative. Team members conducted industry research by reviewing UK and US best practices, and developed a curriculum and travel training handbook.
The team members worked with ACAT members to discuss how to create the travel handbook. Test sessions were also conducted with members of ACAT.
To join the program, customers contact a travel training Program team member. Customers then attend a 45-minute interactive orientation session where they complete a pre-survey for travel trainers to assess how often they ride transit and for what purposes. A team member will work with the customer to complete an intake form and map out meaningful routes that are custom to the customer’s needs, making note of specific accommodations, accessible stations, ramps needed etc. Customers have the ability to receive up to 4 one-on-one sessions with their travel trainer. A travel trainer meets the customer at their home and they complete the route together.
A follow up survey is conducted 30 days following the session to learn about the impact the program has had on the customer.
Daniel Waldman presented on his findings from participating in the pilot program. At 17 years old, Daniel is the youngest participant. Daniel mentioned that he was hesitant to attend these trips as he had a fear of the subway and navigating over the subway gaps. A travel trainer was able to overcome his fear by pointing out the accessibility features that he was not aware of and would be helpful for him to utilize when travelling alone. He felt the learning process was easy to understand and allowed him to be more assertive with his rights while riding the subway.
Vehicle Exploration Day
Vehicle Exploration days have been held at Variety Village and Leslie Barns to enable potential conventional service customers to test getting on and off a bus and a streetcar using their mobility devices in a supportive setting when the vehicle is not in service. During the test, a presentation is conducted for the customers to experience how they will be supported.
More travel training information sessions will be held in the coming weeks. ACAT members who would like to attend will need to coordinate with the ACAT Chair.
Next Steps for the Pilot Program
An early findings analysis will be completed on October 30, 2018. A presentation to the Chief Service Officer (CSO) will be delivered on November 13, 2018. A first draft of the business case will be prepared with the final business case produced by December 10, 2018. The business case will address how to move the pilot program to a permanent travel training solution. Further findings will be presented at the ACAT meeting in February 2019.
Questions and Comments from Committee Members
How often are travel training sessions completed and how long does a person have to wait to be accepted? Two sessions per month in different areas of the city are conducted and no wait list is required.
Time of day and crowding can be a barrier to travel, how would team members deal with these situations? Addressing fear and anxiety is a major component of the program. The first session is geared towards setting a customer up for success. Teaching opportunities are available on routes outlining ways for the customer to navigate difficult situations.
Is there an opportunity for customers to take the program again to learn additional routes if needed? Team members would like to get ACAT’s opinions on how to run the program long term. A comment was made that the team members need to be flexible when rolling out a long-term program to accommodate all customers’ needs.
It was mentioned that team members were contacted by Northern Heights Secondary School for the deaf to provide a program for students graduating that do not have access to a school bus system. Team members will be meeting with the school in the next two weeks.
Originally, team members were recruiting Wheel-Trans customers and team members found that the majority of customers who approached them to take part in the program were conventional travellers. Team members are intentionally trying to support travellers to take conventional transit as an alternative to Wheel-Trans services.