Communications Subcommittee (CS) – Mary Burton, Chair
A CS meeting was held on March 7, 2019.
Family of Services Stop Pole
Ian Dickson, Manager – Design and Wayfinding, provided a detailed update and answered questions on the Family of Services stop pole. He showed the group a sample of the plaque-holder that would be strapped to the post and explained the information on it. A key goal is communicating to all customers, both Wheel-Trans and conventional service customers, that both kinds of vehicles will be using a stop.
Ian explained that each marker has a different meaning and he reviewed them in detail. Some markings are intended to educate the entire customer base.
The most effective ways to communicate and explain the stops and symbols to transit users were discussed. A PSA campaign was suggested. Ian highlighted the challenge of communicating “what a shared stop is” to the general public until they are actually at such a stop. Heather Brown, Manager – Customer Communications, advised that this info will be in the spring Access newsletter for Wheel-Trans. For the general public, communications options include the website and social media. Heather and Ian also agreed to discuss a possible news release with Corporate Communications as part of the larger Family of Services communications plan.
Access Newsletter – Spring Issue Outline
Alicia Sgromo, Project Coordinator – Communications, circulated a draft outline for the Access newsletter’s spring issue and welcomed the subcommittee’s feedback. CS always gets to review the full draft newsletter. The same review process was planned for this issue. The draft newsletter would be emailed out to the CS members to comment, either by replying all or individually. There will be a week of turnaround time for edits and recommendations.
Customer Questions from 2018 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit
Matt Hagg shared a summary of the communications-related issues and suggestions that customers raised at and around the 2018 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit. TTC draft responses for each issue were also reviewed, and the subcommittee’s feedback and input were sought. All subcommittees are reviewing the Public Forum content to provide ACAT feedback on their issue areas.
TTC Communication Methods
- TTC website – www.ttc.ca
- TTC Facebook – Toronto Transit Commission
- Twitter – @ttchelps
- Instagram – @ttcinsta
- Platform Video Screens – On the platforms
- Station Information Screens – In the station
- Signage in Stations – Snap-frames and other places
- PA Announcements – Through speakers at the stations
Paid marketing and advertising:
- StarMetro – The TTC has three half-page ads every week. These have been used to promote the People in Motion Show, TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit, @TTCtalks on access issues, Family of Services, and Community Bus.
Request Stop Program
CS recommended additional communications about the Request Stop program, suggesting that many people do not know about it.
Anyone travelling alone by bus after 9 p.m. can request a stop. It is available for anyone with or without mobility challenges, as long as it is safe to deploy the ramp, if necessary. It is not available on streetcars because streetcars cannot stop everywhere.
There is a paragraph about it on the TTC website, but it does not mention anything specific about accessibility. The subcommittee asked if the Request Stop Program, including its availability to people with mobility challenges, could be highlighted perhaps through social media.
Heather Brown shared that the TTC will be rolling out PRESTO tickets to vending machines at Lawrence West and Yorkdale stations in early April. These will be limited use, for one ride, two rides or a day pass. There will be a chip in them that is tapped on gates and readers. They will be eligible for the two-hour transfer and geared to infrequent customers, visitors to the city, and those who forgot their card. They are scheduled to be deployed in phases, and should be in all stations by this summer and select Shoppers Drug Mart locations later this year.
Comments and Questions from Committee Members:
A member asked about how the Family of Services bus stop pole symbols were going to be communicated out to customers. It was suggested that this be included in the newsletter and on the Wheel-Trans booking site. CS Chair Mary Burton said this would be taken back to the Communications Subcommittee to pursue the options. It will be included in the TTC Ride Guides available throughout the system.
A member recommended that because the ACAT Information Sessions have been moved to July this year, the sooner people know, the better. This event should be in the next newsletter, on the website, when you call Wheel-Trans, the Ride Line, and everywhere.
A member expressed concern about how a person with a visual impairment could differentiate between stop poles for different services, such as Family of Service and conventional service, located close together. There is a concern that they might stand at the wrong pole and miss their bus.
Ian Dickson, Manager – Design and Wayfinding advised that they are exploring options, including making the base or some aspect of the pole cane-detectable, as well as beacon technology. A member indicated that the solution must be technology-free. Focusing on cane-detectability presupposes that a person carries a cane, which not all people with visual impairments do.
The option of making one type of stop pole square or square-banded was suggested. It was then discussed whether one would actually need to know there was more than one pole in close proximity if you could clearly differentiate the type of pole.
Ian agreed to take the issue away for consideration. He also indicated that they would look into how frequently two different service stop poles are close together and why they are doing it. There was a suggestion to invite Craig Nicol to the Communications Subcommittee meeting when this is considered.
Ian Dickson then also showed and explained the markings on a Family of Services stop pole. A member asked if the lozenge markings were tactile. They are not and are at too tall a height to be useful as tactile.
A member asked what use the information in the plaque-holder is to a person with a visual impairment and how do they access any of it. Ian indicated that this is being looked at, but the first phase does not yet address it.
A member expressed concern that someone from out of town might not know that Wheel-Trans requires pre-booking and wait at the stop thinking it is coming. It might be useful to add a line to the info at the stop about “advance booking”.
There was a request that the stop pole markings and plaque-holder information be sent out to all the members so they can check what information is on it. Ian agreed to do this.
ACAT Chair Mazin Aribi asked members to send their feedback on the stop poles, information and markings to him and the Communications Subcommittee Chair Mary Burton and they could review any rationale to revisit the issues.
There was also a recommendation to take down the plaque-holders from all stops that are not Family of Services because physically they all feel the same. It was agreed to put this on the agenda for the Communications Subcommittee.
Design Review Subcommittee (DRS) – Craig Nicol, Chair
A DRS meeting was held on March 6, 2019.
Easier Access III (EA3) Station Upgrades
Steve Stewart, Project Manager – Easier Access Program, provided an update on current plans for accessibility modifications to Castle Frank and High Park Stations.
a) Castle Frank Station
The EA3 upgrade will provide an elevator from street directly to each of the eastbound and westbound platforms. The flow-through elevators are in the paid area and do not stop at concourse level.
Questions and Comments from Subcommittee Members
Members requested information on elevator glazing for visibility. Staff will report back on details for the station.
Members asked about location of elevator call buttons and the possibility of side approach. Staff to review and report back.
Where new tactile tiles would be added at stairs was discussed. TTC agreed to look at where they currently are in the station and where they can be added.
b) High Park Station
The design presented would have three elevators – one street to concourse and one from concourse to each of the eastbound and westbound platforms. The subcommittee had several reservations about the design. It was agreed that the designer would review seeking other solutions and then return to the subcommittee with an upgraded proposal.
Questions and Comments from Subcommittee Members
Members expressed reservations about the path of travel from elevator E1 (street to concourse). On concourse, the path is narrow and visibility is poor.
DRS spoke about proximity to stairs and escalators resulting in congestion at the upper level of the concourse to platform elevators.
Members asked about a waiting area at the platform level of elevators. This is restricted by the design and train length protection.
2018 Forum Comments – Design Issues
A summary of accessibility issues and suggestions raised at the 2018 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit were reviewed. TTC draft responses for each issue were also discussed for DRS feedback and input.
Subcommittee Questions and Feedback:
To aid with directing passengers away from the “ramp” door of streetcars, it was suggested that numbers be applied to each door.
Other Items/New Business
Matt Hagg raised the topic of elevator redundancy asking about what form this could/should take where stations have multiple entrances. The subcommittee suggested that it would be best to have two separate accessible routes rather than having redundant elevators along a single route.
It was reported that Eglinton Crosstown elevator control panel location issues were raised at the Board Chair and CEO quarterly meeting.
It was suggested that the subcommittee review issues around size and design of third-party elevators to aid in wording of agreements with developers.
The next meeting of the Design Review Subcommittee is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS) – Anita Dressler, Chair
A SPS meeting was held on March 6, 2019. Anita Dressler was elected Subcommittee Chair.
Dean Milton, Manager – Strategic Initiatives, provided an update on the Wheel-Trans 10-Year Strategy. Family of Services shared stops, tactile markings, and advertising of new poles and markings were discussed, with some issues referred to the Communications Subcommittee.
There was a discussion regarding the markings of poles for users of the system with visual impairments.
There was an overview of the new routes being added to Family of Services in March providing more transfer options. Wheel-Trans will be reviewing legacy customers under the new eligibility requirements.
An overview of current and future Access Hubs was provided. All hubs take time to construct as permits, design, construction and communication are involved.
TTC/Wheel-Trans will participate in the Abilities Expo event Friday to Sunday, April 5 to 7, 2019 at the International Centre. There will be an ACAT booth.
TTC/Wheel-Trans will participate in the Access Expo event Thursday and Friday, June 6 to 7, 2019 at Variety Village. There will be an ACAT booth. This event is replacing the People in Motion event.
The update of the Accessibility Plan will be finalized on April 1, 2019 and presented for approval at the TTC Board Meeting on May 8, 2019.
The next meeting of the Service Planning Subcommittee is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee – Sam Savona, Chair
A WTOS meeting was held on March 14, 2019.
Grace Sabilano, Senior Communications Specialist, and Alicia Sgromo, Project Coordinator – Communications circulated a draft outline of the spring Access newsletter. They advised that it had been discussed the previous week at the ACAT Communications Subcommittee meeting. The outline also included some ACAT member suggestions made before then. They asked for the group’s input and feedback.
Andrew Piggott, Senior Foreperson – Bus Maintenance, Lakeshore Garage, provided an update on the new bus delivery. Thirty ProMaster buses are scheduled for delivery starting mid-to-late April through August.
Charlene Sharpe, Assistant Manager – Planning and Policy, provided an update on the new self-booking website. There was a service upgrade on February 24, 2019 which addressed the screen-reader issue and has now been corrected and is working properly. The “support person” wording and definition are now consistent with the AODA and across regions. “Be ready at” has been changed to “pick-up time” to be clearer.
Charlene Sharpe also provided an update on Wheel-Trans stops and landmarks. She advised that she tries to deal with issues regarding Wheel-Trans stops and landmarks as she becomes aware of them on a case-by-case basis. She requested that if WTOS know of any, to advise her. When particular issues are identified, they can be addressed.
WTOS indicated that there is an ongoing issue with drivers not reading their run sheets. Staff agreed, stating that detailed notes will be there if the landmark is used. And if the landmark is not used, there is a space for the customer to write in notes.
A member raised concerns about the Wheel-Trans functional assessments being done at Sunnybrook, particularly the length of the assessments being too short. Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans, advised that he would invite Sunnybrook to present an overview of the functional assessments to WTOS. This will give WTOS the opportunity to review the concerns with the occupational therapists performing the assessments. Lodon said he would aim to arrange it for the next WTOS meeting on April 12, 2019.
WTOS members brought up that now, when they book a round trip and only get one part of the trip, they must put both parts on the wait list instead of putting just the one part of the trip they did not get. Staff are concerned that some riders will assume they will have both trips and end up stranded. So, to avoid this from happening, riders will have to put both parts on the waitlist. Riders can book one-way trips and still have that option.
WTOS members asked a series of related questions mainly regarding long wait times, issues with the call-back queue, and the on-hold wait music.
Lodon Hassan provided information:
- Call-back not working as designed – The TTC is aware of the call-back issues. Wheel-Trans is working with the vendor and internal IT team to fix call-back issues.
- Priority Line – This line itself is working fine, but there is a resource issue that is causing wait times up to 30 minutes.
- Wheel-Trans Reservations is adding 15 additional Reservationist positions. In two to three months, all 15 new Reservationists should be trained and ready to take calls.
Lodon raised one additional item of new business. He shared a summary of customer issues and staff responses from the 2018 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit. WTOS will review and send their feedback to him.
The next WTOS meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 12, 2019 at 580 Commissioners Street.
Comments and Questions from Committee Members
A member questioned whether the disparity in stop identification and description information had been addressed, and recommended that Wheel-Trans audit all the stops so that drivers, Reservationists and customers had the same info. Charlene Sharpe advised that they had done this. She added that there is only one stop location now at each subway. When the stop is in a bay, only vehicles allowed to enter the bay will service those stations – so, no sedan taxis will service those stations.
A member asked for confirmation that add-on trips get all of the identification and description information details and notes as well. Charlene confirmed that these operators get all of the notes.