Communications Subcommittee (CS) – Mary Burton, Chair:
The Communications Subcommittee met once this month, on November 7. A report of this meeting will be shared at the next ACAT General Meeting.
Design Review Subcommittee (DRS) – Craig Nicol, Chair:
During November DRS had one meeting, on November 6.
Easier Access Phase 3 update: Steve Stewart presented revised designs for Greenwood, Glencairn and High Park stations. The revisions came in response to DRS comments on original design proposals.
- Greenwood Station: The westbound elevator E2 was relocated to provide lobby space at the concourse, and the corridor at platform level was widened for increased waiting and passing space. The subcommittee made additional comments re: street-level corridor configuration and the bike parking area.
- Glencairn Station: Elevator E2 from concourse to platform was relocated to improve corridor space at concourse and increase safety and waiting area space at platform level.
- High Park Station: The entire station design was revised resulting in two forward motion elevators directly from street level, one to each side platform. The Quebec Avenue entrance was revised moving the ramp indoors and enclosing the new elevators. DRS considered this a much superior design that provided safer access at platform level and ensures that the station can still be accessible even if one elevator is out of service.
Entrance Connection Policies: DRS raised this in response to recent third-party elevator connections that are not up to TTC standards. A discussion ensued regarding developer responsibility and the ability of TTC staff to enforce standards for these connections. Members believe that TTC design standards need to be used by developers in terms of accessibility. However, this is a departure from the TTC policy as it stands. It was noted that corporate policy on connections would have to be reviewed and go to the TTC Board for approval. DRS requested that all third-party entrance designs be presented to DRS. For the full discussion, see the DRS minutes.
Note the issue of a motion to the Board was mentioned and is expected to be further discussed at the December DRS meeting.
The gap update: Matt Hagg reported that platform edge upgrades at Eglinton Station are complete, including rubber gap fillers along the northbound platform, and that St Clair Station platform edge tile upgrades are expected to be completed in November, with the rubber gap fillers to follow. Finch is the next station in the project.
Subcommittee comments: In previous discussion, it was stated that platform structural remedial work would be required at Davisville and Rosedale before gap issues could be resolved. While DRS understands this, the subcommittee pointed out that such work has already been done for the southbound Davisville platform and that for this priority one station, the southbound platform should move up in the work schedule.
Correspondence re: York University Station: DRS reviewed correspondence received by ACAT with respect to subway station design and provided feedback for a response to the correspondent.
Public Forum comments: DRS received the comments related to design. No discussion took place. Proposed responses will be reviewed at the December meeting.
The next Design Review Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 4.
Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS) – Anita Dressler, Chair:
A Service Planning Subcommittee meeting was held on November 6.
There were nine members of TTC staff who presented and discussed issues.
There was a follow-up discussion regarding emergency closures on the subway system. Janet Weller, Group Station Manager and Ellen Stassen, Head of Stations discussed the policy in place to evacuate persons with disabilities.
The protocol is as follows:
- Announcements will be made for anyone needing assistance. Site staff and the train crew will assist in the evacuation, and in some cases will ask other passengers to help.
- The ticker tape display panels will advise riders on the situation and what steps to take to evacuate.
- In the event of a full offload, the operator will walk through the train to ensure that all passengers have disembarked from the train.
- Staff will go to the station platform to ensure that all platforms are clear. If not they will assist any passengers stranded to exit the station.
- Announcements will be made before the station being closed, in order that those needing accessible stations will be accommodated, if possible.
- In some cases, passengers with disabilities will remain on the train until they reach the turnabout station for easier accessibility and disembarking from the train.
Members were concerned that, with the implementation of Family of Services, there will be additional travellers with disabilities and how they would be accommodated in cases of emergency offloads of trains.
Discussion ensued regarding the designated waiting areas and the passenger assist intercom. There will be raised tactile on intercom buttons and calls will go directly to dispatch.
Heather Brown, Manager – Customer Communications and Ellen Stassen spoke about the PRESTO advertising campaign. Tickets and tokens will cease to be sold at the end of November, but third-party retailers can sell their remaining supply after that date.
PRESTO cards will be given to social services, including ODSP and Ontario Works. From December 1 to January 4, collectors will remain in the booth, then will be placed at the crash gate fare boxes site.
Information will be disbursed in a variety of languages to inform all passengers of the change to PRESTO.
Stephanie Simard, Senior Planner – System and Policy and Sierra Buehler, System Planner spoke about the five-year system plan and the 10-year outlook. A 20-point action plan was presented. Yearly consultations will be done on the plan.
There are five pillars of opportunity:
- Pillar 1
- Enhancing the travel network, to accommodate the growth and new services implemented
- Changes to community buses for service to new destinations to meet service standards
- Other changes, extension of the 339 overnight Finch and a new route along Wilson Avenue, 119 Torbarrie and 167 Pharmacy North will receive extra service.
- Express buses for Eglinton, Kennedy and Warden are in the planning stage.
- A Scarborough East area study will be done before 2021.
- Other initiatives include:
Opening Line 5 Eglinton
Removing peak crowding on Line 1
Opening Line 6 Finch
Enhancing streetcar routes 501 and 504
An equity lens for transit service planning
- Pillar 2
- Enhancing customer service – Including heated shelters, enlarged maps, etc.
- Pillar 3
- Improvement to service reliability
- Pillar 4
- Prioritizing surface transit
- Pillar 5
- Accelerating integration of services
The next Service Planning Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 4. It will include a discussion on the deputation made at the October ACAT meeting regarding service on Kilgour Road and the surrounding area off of Bayview Avenue.
Questions and Comments from the Committee:
A member asked if the discussion on turn-backs also included the withdrawal of trains from service at the end of the morning rush hour, for example, on the northbound Yonge line. SPS Chair Dressler indicated that this is a separate issue and will be discussed in more depth at the next subcommittee meeting. The ACAT Chair asked that this item also be tracked and followed-up on.
A member stated that now, with the Family of Services approach, customers are waiting outside in the wind and cold. As such, he requested that the Service Planning Subcommittee review the policy of when a bus is sitting in a bus bay and its doors are opened, but the ramp is not put down. The member said he would like to see the ramp put down in these cases, so that customers who need it can board and are not waiting in the cold. He said the current situation can also pose a problem for people who need the ramp to get on, when all other customers have boarded first via the doors. If the ramp is not put down by the driver in all such cases, another option could be the customers’ choice to ask the customer service agent to put it down as needed.
Another member said that a situation like the one described happens at St George Station where often operators are off/on break for seven to eight minutes. Customers with mobility devices and anyone else requiring the ramp cannot board, but anyone else can. She said it would be nice to leave the bus in a position at stations where customers who need the ramp can board. SPS Chair Dressler said the subcommittee would bring this item forward at their next meeting.
The ACAT Chair commented that this issue has been raised before. It is considered a safety issue. There is concern that no one trips over the ramp, and a perspective that no one should deploy the ramp except the driver. He supported referring the item to SPS and said he hoped TTC staff could be available to advise on the issue.
Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS) – Sam Savona, Chair:
On November 14, a Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee was held at the TTC Leslie Barns.
Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans, announced that there would be appeals training for all interested members of ACAT who are not retiring, to prepare them to sit on the Wheel-Trans Eligibility Appeal Panel. Training would take place on November 19, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 580 Commissioners Street. An email would be sent with this information. Another session will be scheduled early next year.
A member noted that they attended a recent street study meeting on the Danforth. This member noted that the accessibility component was missing, as well as knowledge of Wheel-Trans. He felt more presence from Wheel-Trans should be there.
Twain Sparks, Assistant Manager – Wheel-Trans Transportation, passed around a revised sample of the new no-show sheet for subcommittee members to review. Colour and size will be similar to the current no-show sheets. There will be no door hanger cut-out. There will also be glue at the top, so that the sheets can be put on windows or no-show boards.
Cameron Penman, Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans, gave an update on the Wheel-Trans taxi contracts which are due to be renewed. Feedback from drivers and ACAT were considering in putting together the best Request for Proposal to enhance service. Contracts will be for five years. Sedan taxi contracts will be posted next week to give bidders extra time to put together a strong bid.
The scope of work highlights were discussed, including:
- Municipal Licensing and Standards-approved drivers and vehicles
- Industry benchmarks
- Improved training standards
- Improved reporting and supervisory standards
- Increased contractor vehicle inspection responsibilities
- Liquidated damages, including penalties for companies
- MDT solution – Each vehicle will have a trackable tablet
- Clearly branded and numbered decals, including Family of Services decals
- Standard business attire and new driver ID requirements
Training requirements were reviewed as well.
Tracy Pashutinski, Standard Operating Procedures Coordinator, Subway Transportation, gave a presentation on the subway evacuation exercise, multiple exercises throughout the year:
- Six table-top exercises
- Four full evacuations of the Transit Control Centre
- One full-scale emergency exercise
A subway evacuation exercise is scheduled for January 12 from 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. at Finch Station.
A request for two ACAT members to participate in the testing was made, including a person who has a hearing impairment and someone who uses a mobility device. Specific details for their involvement were given.
The roles of ACAT members will not be on the train itself because of the number of stairs at that station. Finch Station will be evacuated, so staff thought it would be beneficial to have Customer Service Agents at the station to assist the person with the mobility device and to have a Wheel-Trans vehicle meet them at the station.
Members had concerns that the mock evacuation of a person with a mobility device isn’t truly being represented, and will cause serious implications if and when an emergency evacuation is needed. TTC will organize something with Toronto Fire Services and others, to get a better understanding of their training and look into additional exercises with them.
Angela Marley gave a deputation on Wheel-Trans stops at subway stations. In 2012, she started working on descriptions of subway stations, which are now online. As descriptions were being done, she realized that it would be beneficial to add Wheel-Trans information.
She is now working with Marco Iorfida, and has identified and compiled a list of discrepancies in the information across four areas – physical stop information, information on the TTC booking site, information on reservation screens, and information on operator run sheets. She discussed the need to change addresses so that the locations are clear to both customers and drivers. When certain addresses are added by Wheel-Trans customers, the correct location is not always given. It was noted that it is critical that customers and the operators are at the same location for pick-ups.
Angela is asking the committee to review her list to ensure that all locations are correct and the information is the same everywhere.
Marco Iorfida, Scheduling and Policy Specialist, gave an update on Wheel-Trans stops at subway stations. It was noted that some of the stations have been updated, based on ACAT suggestions. Marco will review Angela Marley’s work. He noted that staff resources have also been set aside to review locations. Staff are in the process of updating those stations. The TTC website has been reviewed as well.
Marco stated that the TTC is trying to make everything one cohesive piece and have the same information across all four platforms. Much progress has been made in the last month since there has been focus on the initiative.
It was also noted that conditional trip matching and Family of Services (FOS) will not be launched until this issue has been settled.
Jaspreet Deol, Wheel-Trans Co-op Student, gave a presentation on FOS trip breakdown by customer, outlining total FOS trips taken year-to-date, total FOS customers year-to-date, and top customers with 80% of all FOS trips.
Unconditional legacy was defined as customers who had registered for Wheel-Trans before January 2017. Customer breakdown was discussed in terms of eligibility, transferability and age.
The following was noted:
- Eligibility: Over half of the customers are categorized under legacy unconditional.
The second largest split at 35% is for conditional customers.
- Transferability: Ambulatory customers account for almost two thirds.
- Age: There is an even split of around 25% for each of the following categories: 31 to 59, 60 to 69, and 70 to 79.
Out of the 298 top customers, the top 10 were pulled to dig deeper into their characteristics and FOS trips. 60% of them are legacy, the age range is pretty broad and the majority are ambulatory.
It was noted that this does not capture those who use TTC on their own, without the use of Wheel-Trans. Many customers have multiple conditions, which is 33%, but are still taking a fair amount of FOS trips.
The next Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for Friday, December 13.
Questions and Comments from the Committee:
A member raised an issue from the subcommittee that was not in the report. She said that some drivers of accessible taxis and sedans feel they are treated badly by customers. If they record details of issues on run sheets, they think these are just disposed of, and that the TTC never finds out. They do not see their dispatchers as conduits of info and sometimes feel ignored.
WTOS Chair Savona said he thinks Wheel-Trans staff are looking into this issue. The ACAT Chair expressed his hope that they do. He suggested that the upcoming contract renewal is an opportunity for improvement. He said he has also heard such comments, as well as contract drivers’ concern that, under the switch to FOS, all trips will be short and there will be less business. When writing the contract, these concerns need to be addressed.
A member said that on his last three Wheel-Trans rides in mini-vans, the bookings were too close together. He had thought at first it was a one-off, but it has happened frequently. The timing in between the bookings is not realistic and is making people late. However, the drivers are not calling the dispatchers. They are taking the rides anyway because they want the business.
The ACAT Executive echoed that this has been a constant complaint. Contractors, and the mini-van operators especially, are stressed out. The booking and scheduling situation makes them late. They expressed their hope that Wheel-Trans staff will review the situation, including any root issues with the computerized scheduling system.
A member said they had seen run sheets in which drivers had been given 10 minutes to get from Sheppard and Bathurst to Davisville. She supported having staff look into the problem, saying that it costs everyone, including the drivers and customers. In the winter months, if rides are running 30-45 minutes late, customers may be waiting outside in the cold. Customers cannot get through to the Priority Line. You get no-shows this way, because people give up.
A member asked how the schedule was set and how the computerized system calculates the mileage and distance. Other members asked about the algorithm used to book trips, which apparently calculates the time it takes to get from A to B, then adds a certain variable of time.
Cameron Penman, Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans advised that a recent update to the scheduling system appears to have caused a problem with calculating and assigning rides. They think is has to do with the map. They have been trouble-shooting daily and IT personnel are working on-site with scheduling staff. The computerized system generates the runs for the day and the dispatchers have been manually fixing the issues the system has produced. They are working to diagnose and fix the root cause.
It was agreed that staff will provide an update at the next Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee meeting, including hopefully dispatch staff who understand the situation in greater depth. The ACAT Chair requested a timeline for fixing the problem and urged that solutions be found quickly. He underlined that the situation is serious, is causing and adding stress, and will become a safety issue.