ACAT Information Sessions
Members expressed concern about the plan to hold ACAT Information Sessions in July this year. This is earlier than in recent years and was noted as being a significant change. There was concern that many people might be away at that time of year. TTC staff were asked how and when the sessions would be advertised.
Heather Brown, Manager – Customer Communications, advised that plans are to start advertising for the ACAT Information Sessions in late May or early June, with the hope of not starting too early and having the information get lost with people.
They are finalizing the details and plan to advertise in the Wheel-Trans spring Access newsletter, on the Rideline, the TTC and Wheel-Trans websites (including on the home page), in Star Metro, on platform screens, on PA announcements, possibly in a news release, and in flyers distributed in public libraries. These are all the typical channels for advertising TTC/Wheel-Trans initiatives, with the addition of the library flyers.
The TTC is working on finalizing the ACAT application. There have been requests in the past to make it more easily accessible. To address this, they want to make the application available online. This will require going to the TTC Board to make a change to the ACAT Terms of Reference.
Members indicated that making the application available online is a major change and that ACAT needs to be involved in the discussion. The Committee expressed that they wanted the opportunity to input before this goes to the TTC Board.
Members indicated a concern that a lot of people do not understand what ACAT actually is. They signaled that there could be challenges if people do not participate, or are not required to participate, in an information session and the application is made available online.
A member indicated that they liked the concept of making the application digital, perhaps emailing people a fillable form. The paper or CD options available when they had applied to join ACAT posed a challenge, as many computers do not have CD drives anymore.
Heather Brown acknowledged that there are pros and cons to changing the application approach. She agreed that staff would take the ACAT’s concerns back and consider them. She said that they were exploring making the information presentation on ACAT accessible online and requiring applicants to indicate in their application that they had reviewed the presentation.
Heather advised that the TTC was considering potentially trying to make ACAT applications available at the Access Expo, June 5-6.
- Item: Lack of Tactile Information on Poles for Shared Bus Stops – Change completion date/status from “Ongoing” to “Spring 2019”. However, it will not yet be listed as “completed”. The Communications Subcommittee reviewed this in February and Heather Brown had shared additional information that day.
Members emphasized the need to be clear about different aspects of this issue, noting that Ian Dickson, Manager – Design and Wayfinding and his team are still working on the challenge of making the poles accessible for people who have visual impairments. There is now also a pilot program in the process of rolling out 20 poles, which will be tested and on which feedback will be sought.
- Item: Access to Subway Stations and Wheel-Trans Stops at Entrances - the issue of bike lanes interfering with Wheel-Trans pick-ups and drop-offs, including at addresses, would be raised to the TTC Board as a separate item, and to be added to the agenda for the ACAT Executive’s next quarterly meeting with the TTC Chair and CEO.
The Service Planning Subcommittee has been dealing with this issue and it was covered at the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting on April 11, 2019. However, ACAT is not satisfied with the manner in which the issues are being addressed. Matt Hagg, Senior Planner – System Accessibility, advised that the minutes from the April 3, 2019 Service Planning Committee had been shared with the City and that these were thought to capture some of ACAT’s objections.
A member suggested that an approach similar to a school bus crossing be considered, in which everything stops when the school bus stops.
Charlene Sharpe, Assistant Manager – Planning and Policy, Wheel-Trans, indicated that Wheel-Trans is planning to consider this as an operational issue. Staff are looking at putting procedures in place for Operators to assist in these instances. She suggested that it be brought to the Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee to review with Operations staff.
- Item: Pre-Boarding Announcement on Subway Trains – No change to completion date/status of third quarter 2019.
- Item: Give Higher Priority to Resolving Inconsistencies with Wheel-Trans Pick Up and Drop Offs at Subway Stations in support of Family of Services - Ongoing.
Charlene Sharpe, Assistant Manager – Planning and Policy, Wheel-Trans, advised that it had been referred to the Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee. It was agreed that Wheel-Trans would go through all of the landmark identification information issues and report back to the subcommittee.
In response to committee questions, Charlene advised that staff are going through each subway station. Once the review process is complete, the information will be turned over to the TTC website, and they expect to have this done before September. Members expressed a desire for a complete audit and suggested that the starting point be the list compiled and submitted by former ACAT member Angela Marley.
A member raised the additional issue of notes being given to Operators. Charlene advised that Wheel-Trans has reminded Operators to read the notes. The subcommittee also emphasized that notes should be given to both dispatch and drivers. This might help to address additional problems sometimes generated when drivers reach out to dispatch for direction.
A member asked about the impact of these issues on the smartphone app planned for rollout in fall 2019. Charlene advised that there are plans for this app to pilot a feature that will allow customers to see the vehicle approaching 10 minutes prior to pick-up, though this feature will not be available to all vehicles. In the future, customers will also have the choice to opt in so that the operator can see their location.
Members pointed out that this feature might only work if customers had data access on their mobile device and there was cellular coverage at the location (e.g. not at St. Clair West Station). Charlene indicated that there would be some options for customers to connect to wireless access so that they would not have to use data, and that they are keeping these dynamics in mind as they develop options in the next one to three years.
- Item: GTA Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) Joint Meeting – The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Heather Brown, Manager – Customer Communications, advised that it would be livestreamed.
- Item: Concerns regarding Wheel Trans Pick-Ups and Drop-Offs and Cellular Communication at St. Clair West, Don Mills, & York Mills stations – Ongoing.
It was noted that a procedure has been established to address these circumstances. If a customer’s ride is not there after 30 minutes, they can use the intercom and be connected to a Customer Service Agent, who will contact Transit Control.
Charlene Sharpe pointed out that all subways stations have only one designated pick-up area, and if there is a bus platform, the pick-up will be at the platform.
A member asked if this point could be added to the Wheel-Trans newsletter in the section on Family of Services. Heather Brown advised that staff would check to see if there was space to do this.
Members discussed whether it would be helpful to communicate this point more widely, or whether that would be confusing. Members indicated that for some people using stations for the first time, there would be a learning curve and this could help. Another member indicated that it would provide relief for people with anxiety even before they book a ride.
It was confirmed that this information is currently included in the travel training.
A member suggested that this was one indicator that the system needed to be ready before conditional trip-matching is introduced.
A member recommended that Wheel-Trans needs to do some kind of audit addressing this issue, including whether riders are being dropped off and picked up at the right locations by the right vehicles, and how many no-shows are there. They expressed their concern that the approach is not working. Dwayne Geddes, Acting Head of Wheel-Trans, agreed that this recommendation would be taken to the Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee to discuss.
- Item: Subway Platform (Vertical and Horizontal) Gap – Ongoing.