The Communications Subcommittee had not yet met in 2020. The next CS meeting will be held on March 5, 2020.
The Design Review Subcommittee had also not yet met in 2020. The next DRS meeting will be held on March 11, 2020.
Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS) – Anita Dressler, Chair
A Service Planning Subcommittee meeting was held on February 5, 2020. An election for Subcommittee Chair was held and Anita Dressler was selected.
John Beynon, Chief Instructor - Operations Training Centre, and Paolo Chermaz, Manager – Queensway Division, Bus Transportation, attended the meeting to give feedback and answers to the subcommittee’s questions and suggestions regarding ramp bus deployment.
SPS members focused on the numerous issues of ramp deployment at stations. The challenge usually occurs when the Operator goes off on a break, before proceeding on route. Issues discussed dealt with safety, risk factors, staff resources, and the need for reminders to Operators during training of the need to board passengers using mobility devices before taking a break, or raising the seats to prepare for boarding for those with mobility devices. Further discussions will ensue on this matter in the future.
The second issue of changes to streetcar door operating procedures was discussed. Claire Patrigeon, Vehicle Engineering Manager, gave a short presentation.
One concern was the difficulty for persons with vision loss to find the button to alert the Operator for them to enter or exit the vehicle. Another concern was passengers exiting the vehicle safely. Claire advised that flashing lights would indicate to car drivers to stop; however, ACAT members were concerned that with doors opening on request, only some of the lights would be flashing and not necessarily the lights embedded in the side of the sliding doors.
Members suggested that the TTC do an advertising campaign to educate passengers and motorists on the changes regarding streetcars.
Barbara Battistuzzi, Chief Instructor – Operations Training Centre, requested that members sign up for the upcoming bus and streetcar operator recertification training sessions.
Angela Marley, ACAT member, gave valuable input and joined the discussion on ramp deployment and streetcar operations.
The next SPS meeting is scheduled for March 11, 2020.
Questions and Comments from the Committee:
A member requested clarification on the proposed streetcar door procedure change. Matt Hagg explained that currently all streetcar doors open at every stop, and this would no longer happen. Individual doors would be opened on request from both inside and outside the vehicle.
Matt Hagg reported that there had been additional feedback since the SPS meeting. It was thought that a demonstration to compare and contrast the current procedure and the proposed change would be a good idea. This will likely be in March at a date and time to be confirmed, and all ACAT members are welcome.
Heather Brown, Manager – Customer Communications, advised that a communications plan for the proposed change was being prepared, as SPS had recommended.
In response to members’ concerns, Matt Hagg advised that part of the procedure is that the vehicle Operator needs to look for people with accessibility challenges, including people with visual impairments and people using a mobility device. This would be part of the Operator training on this procedure change.
Members pointed out that relying on the Operator to look out for people with accessibility challenges can be very challenging. It was recommended that there needs to be a failsafe or different method to get to the ramp-request and door-open buttons.
Staff requested that if there are particular stops where ads are obstructing the line of sight to please advise them and it would be addressed. It was noted that the ads at the stop on Cherry Street at Front Street northbound line up exactly with the second door of the streetcar and obstruct the sightline.
Members asked why this change was being proposed now. Matt explained that the streetcars were not originally designed to have all the doors open all the time and the impacts on the heating and air conditioning systems were the primary reason for the proposed change. Members asked as to why these issues were being addressed three years into the service life of some of the vehicles and indicated that they may actually have been raised by ACAT when the streetcars were being designed.
Members and staff discussed how the Operator will now come out to deploy the ramp wherever and whenever it is requested. So even with the proposed door change, there is actually no change for a person outside the vehicle who requires the ramp.
Members discussed ideas and suggestions for handling the proposed change and it was suggested that Desrianne McIlwrick, Travel Trainer, be invited to the in-person demonstration.
Matt Hagg and the ACAT Chair suggested that these questions and concerns highlighted the need for the demonstration so that ACAT members could check out all of these issues and provide feedback.
The Chair said he hoped staff were hearing there were serious issues regarding the proposed change and that they would find solutions to ease the concerns. He suggested that other stakeholders also be brought to the in-person demonstration.
It was noted that Matt Hagg would follow-up with ACAT to advise on the exact date, time and location for the demonstration.
Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS) – Sam Savona, Chair
A WTOS meeting was held on February 20, 2020.
Cameron Penman, Manager - Customer Service, called the meeting to order. Nominations for WTOS Chair were called. Sam Savona was acclaimed as WTOS Chair.
Bem Case, TTC Head of Vehicle Programs, provided an update on Wheel-Trans vehicle procurement. He planned to present this report to ACAT on February 27, 2020.
Jason Neudorf, Transportation Planner, WSP and David Dunn, Project Manager – Cycling and Pedestrian Infrastructure, City of Toronto gave a presentation, answered questions and sought the subcommittee’s feedback on the City of Toronto’s planned Bloor West Bikeway Extension. The detailed presentation had been emailed to all WTOS members in advance of the meeting.
Charlene Sharpe, Manager – Planning and Policy, has been representing Wheel-Trans on the project team. While this project focuses specifically on Bloor West, the expectation is that the City of Toronto can include the input and feedback on Wheel-Trans and accessibility issues in all other bike path developments in the future.
Jason Neudorf emphasized that the WTOS’ feedback and insights were welcomed on the proposal both at that day’s meeting and going forward. He encouraged members to send additional feedback to the project email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project is currently in its public engagement phase with the aim of finalizing the proposed design for its first phase in April and then, pending Toronto City Council approval, installing it in August.
Flexible bollards mounted to pre-cast concrete curbs are being proposed as the preferred type of separation for most of the bikeway extension. Measures for maintaining access for Wheel-Trans operations were outlined, including mid-block curb access at high-volume Wheel-Trans locations. A number of strategies are also being proposed to improve cyclists yielding to pedestrians.
Stephanie Gobin, Project Coordinator, Wheel-Trans, provided an overview of the Customer Ability Liaisons’ (CAL) role and the Wheel-Trans eligibility process. CAL staff are trained to evaluate applications to Wheel-Trans. Copies of the letter and conditions checklist that customers receive when they have been approved for conditional eligibility status were distributed to WTOS members. WTOS members provided suggestions on how to improve the training and letter.
A member who serves on the appeals panel also advised that TTC/transit expert and occupational therapist representatives seem to think, that they should not make any unconditional status determinations.
Staff advised that there was never a direction to have a certain breakdown or number of decisions on conditional and unconditional status. Occupational therapists and TTC/transit expert representatives on the appeals panel have been retrained, sending this message very clearly.
Marco Iorfida, Scheduling and Policy Specialist, provided an update on changes to Wheel-Trans stops and stop descriptions at subway stations. A list of the changes and their status was distributed to members and had been emailed to them before the meeting. Almost all of the changes, and the related signage requests, had been completed. The next steps would be addressing the next requests that come in, via Customer Service and to staff. This will be an ongoing process and updates will be brought to each WTOS meeting.
The next Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee meeting is scheduled for March 19, 2020.
Questions and Comments from the Committee:
Members highlighted their concern that occupational therapist and TTC/transit expert representatives on the Wheel-Trans eligibility appeals panel are still saying that “life-threatening” is the only criteria for door-to-door Wheel-Trans service.
Staff agreed to follow-up with the ACAT member who had served on the appeals panel and then take any necessary further action. The ACAT Chair requested that staff also seek feedback from the other representatives on the appeal panel at that time.
Staff requested that if a perceived oddity occurred during an appeal process, that ACAT members report it to Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager – Customer Service; Cameron Penman, Manager – Customer Service and the ACAT Executive immediately for follow-up.
A member suggested that appeals panel representatives be invited to the Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee. Cameron advised that he would follow-up and extend the invitation.
Lodon confirmed that an appeals panel training meeting, reviewing the appeals process, was being scheduled for March. It will be open to all ACAT members and will also include transit experts / TTC representatives on the appeals panel. It was discussed that the occupational therapist representatives on the panel meet separately each month.