ACAT Meeting


Meeting Info

Date:Thursday, July 30, 2020
Start Time:3:00 p.m.
Location:Virtual meeting via Webex
Meeting No:355
  • Agenda
  • Meeting Minutes

Agenda is not available for this meeting.
Please check the meeting minutes for meeting details.

Present

  • Mazin Aribi, Chair
  • Marian McDonell, Co-Vice Chair
  • Igor Samardzic, Co-Vice Chair  
  • Margo Brodie
  • Anita Dressler
  • Carmen Galvan
  • Jessica Geboers
  • Debbie Gillespie
  • Sean Hollingsworth
  • Angela Marley 
  • Bobbi Moore
  • James Pyo
  • Sam Savona
  • Mahendan Sivabalasundaram
  • Chris Stigas

Pool Members

  • Ann-Marie Cole
  • Hans Winther

Regrets

  • Mary Burton
  • Jessica Geboers

TTC Representatives

  • Milly Bernal, Customer Communications Specialist
  • Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans
  • Matt Hagg, Senior Planner – System Accessibility
  • Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans
  • Marco Iorfida, Scheduling and Policy Specialist, Wheel-Trans
  • Dean Milton, Manager – Strategic Initiatives, Wheel-Trans  
  • Charlene Sharpe, Manager – Planning and Policy, Wheel-Trans

Copies

  • Rick Leary, Chief Executive Officer
  • Kirsten Watson, Deputy CEO – Operations
  • Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, Chief Strategy and Customer Officer
  • Orest Kobylansky, Executive Director – Operations
  • Gary Downie, Chief Capital Officer
  • Josie La Vita, Chief Financial Officer
  • James Ross, Chief Operating Officer
  • Deborah Brown, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience
  • TTC Board Members

1. Call to Order / Attendance

Chair Mazin Aribi called the meeting to order at 1:06 p.m. and attendance was taken.

2. Declaration of Conflict of Interest

Nil.

3. Approval of Agenda

On a motion by Angela Marley, seconded by Bobbi Moore, the agenda was approved.

4. Remarks from ACAT Chair

ACAT Chair Mazin Aribi reported that on July 3 and July 20, 2020, the Toronto Advisory Committee (TAAC) held virtual meetings. One of the items discussed was the City of Toronto COVID-19 Response and Accessibility. TAAC Members recommended nine items to the Executive Committee. Item 5 of these recommendations reads that:

City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission Board to direct the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to bring forward presentations on new or existing initiatives, detailing any efforts and modifications to accommodate persons with disabilities, as a
response to COVID-19 response and recovery, to the November 16, 2020 meeting of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee.

For more information, please visit the TAAC website.

July 3, 2020 meeting link:
http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/getMeetingMonitor.do?function=doPrepare&meetingId=16037&m=d%20-%20Meeting-2020.DI7%20-%20Meeting-2020.DI7#Meeting-2020.DI8

July 20, 2020 meeting link:
http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2020.DI9.1

The next TAAC meeting is scheduled for September 24, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall, Committee Room 1 or virtually.
 
On July 22, 2020, ACAT members learned that, as part of the Easier Access Program, the elevators at Wellesley Station have been put into service ahead of schedule. With this milestone completed, Wellesley is now the 47th accessible station for all customers.

5. Review and Approval of June 19, 2020 Minutes

On a motion by Angela Marley, seconded by Debbie Gillespie, the minutes of the June 19, 2020 meeting were approved.

6. Review and Approval of June 25, 2020 Minutes

On a motion by Sam Savona, seconded by Bobbi Moore, the minutes of the June 25, 2020 meeting were approved.

 

7. Business Arising Out of Minutes / Outstanding Items

  • Item: Review of the Impact of Curb-Side Bike Lanes on Wheel-Trans Customers and Operators in Accessing Certain Pick-Up / Drop-Off Locations - Ongoing

Members raised concerns that this issue not be forgotten, especially given the City of Toronto’s rapid buildout of bike lanes in response to COVID-19. They flagged specific issues around new, very long stretches of cement barricades that do not seem to allow for any access from the street. Staff advised that the TTC Project Planning & Development, Operations Planning team is now leading on this item. It was agreed that A.J. Takarabe, Operations Planner would be invited to the Service Planning Subcommittee to provide an update.

Members highlighted a number of specific issues and recommendations for consideration. They underlined the direct impact on Wheel-Trans customers and Operators and the need for Wheel Trans and the Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee to stay well informed and engaged on this item. They stressed the importance of tracking and addressing Wheel-Trans customer complaints to Customer Service, and complaints from Wheel-Trans Operators, as ways of identifying and fixing specific problem areas. They flagged that most Wheel-Trans customers do not complain to Customer Service when they have an issue, so there needs to be a better way to prevent and identify problem areas now and going forward when bike lanes are being significantly expanded.

Members suggested that Wheel-Trans schedulers could potentially identify high-use stops and monitor them, or staff could proactively seek out information on probable problem areas.

Members underlined that accessible subway entrances need to be given priority as high-use Wheel-Trans stops. The distances that Wheel-Trans customers are now being asked to walk at pick-up and drop-off stops must also be kept in mind and addressed. 

  • Item: Higher Priority to Resolving Inconsistencies with Wheel-Trans Pick-Ups and Drop-Offs at Subway Stations in support of Family of Services - Completed

This item is to be moved to the Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee as a standing agenda item for monthly updates. It was agreed that ACAT members working directly on this issue would be requested to participate in the WTOS meetings when the topic is going to be discussed.  

  • Item: GTHA Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) Joint Meeting - Ongoing

No further updates.

The committee noted that the GTHA Regional Specialized Transit Working Group continues to meet and suggested that an update from them could be relevant and useful. It was agreed that Charlene Sharpe, Manager – Planning and Policy, Wheel-Trans would provide an update on the recent meetings and its work throughout the COVID-19 response at the next ACAT meeting.

  • Item: Subway Platform (Vertical and Horizontal) Gap – Completed.

This item has been moved to the DRS Outstanding Items List. Members requested that an update be shared at the upcoming DRS meeting, if possible. 

  • Item: Motion – Need for Dual Elevators at Finch West Interchange Station to the LRT Platform Level, and
  • Item: Motion – TTC Second Elevator at Subway – LRT Interchange Stations - Ongoing

The Committee flagged that the most recent update on these two items should be noted. Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans, had agreed to work with Gary Downie, Chief Capital Officer on a draft motion that could be presented by a TTC Board Member addressing these items. Members expressed its hope that such a motion would help prioritize these items as part of the TTC’s Easier Access 4 initiative.

  • Item: TTC Service on Kilgour Road (Deputation from Meenu Sikand and Dennise Carrasco) - Ongoing

No updates until at least next year, or until the Eglinton Crosstown LRT nears completion. The committee agreed to move the item to the bottom of the Outstanding Items list and note it as “Deferred until Line 5 is almost operational.”

  • Item: Update on the New TTC Website and Updated Station Descriptions which have been on hold - Ongoing

Milly Bernal, Customer Communications Specialist advised that the updated station descriptions are no longer on hold and are being added to the current TTC website. Members welcomed this news and stressed the importance of having accurate information available on the website for customers. An overall update on the new TTC website will be presented at an upcoming Communications Subcommittee meeting. The launch date for the new TTC website has not been set. 

  • Item: PRESTO Card Registration and whether it can be activated without an email/online process - Ongoing

No further updates.

The committee repeated its concerns about the equity issues that this situation raises and requested that TTC staff follow-up with PRESTO on the item.

8. Deputation

Nil.

9. Wheel-Trans 10-Year Strategy Update

Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans provided an update focused on any changes since his last reports at the ACAT meetings on June 19 and June 25, 2020.

Wheel-Trans Mobile App

Staff are working on getting the mobile app out to ACAT members and other Wheel-Trans customer volunteers for about a month of testing and feedback. The testing will likely begin at the end of August. It will then fine-tune the app before releasing it to all Wheel-Trans customers.

Access Hubs

All Access Hubs are now essentially open. Some walk-throughs are being done to review any deficiencies and ensure they are up and running.

COVID-19 Measures

A detailed report on the COVID-19 measures and changes coinciding with Stage 2 was reviewed at the last ACAT meeting. There are no new additions.

Toronto is entering Stage 3 on July 31, 2020. Wheel-Trans has not made any more changes. However, they plan to return to ride-sharing at some point.

Questions and Comments from the Committee:

A member noted they had understood a group would be involved in accessibility testing of the mobile app, including testing it on different devices such as screen readers, before it was released to all of ACAT for general testing. This had been the testing process when the Wheel Trans self-booking website was developed.

Dwayne Geddes advised that accessibility testing will be included in the ACAT testing phase, noting that ACAT members will test it for functionality on different devices such as screen readers. These testing steps are not being sequenced, they are being integrated into one. Dwayne requested that if ACAT has any recommendations for other volunteers who should test the app, to advise staff and they will arrange it. 
 
Staff advised that feedback on the Wheel-Trans self-booking website and the mobile app should be provided to Charlene Sharpe, Manager - Planning and Policy, and Ross Visconti, Project Manager.

A member flagged the issue, raised at the Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee meeting on July 10, 2020, that customers who cannot wear masks still cannot book their rides using the self-booking website. They noted this might also pose a barrier to them fully testing and providing feedback on the mobile app. Staff advised they are working on a resolution to this issue and have some ideas for the removal of this barrier. 

A member asked if there was any update on the Wheel-Trans reopening strategy and return to pre-COVID service now that Toronto is entering Stage 3. They wondered if there was a general timeline or if it was still being worked out.

Staff advised that the timeline and plan are outlined in the report, “COVID-19 – Transitioning from Response to Restart and Recovery”, presented to the TTC Board in June and was reported to ACAT at the last two general meetings on June 19 and 25, 2020. The strategy is transparent and includes when certain things would shut down and reopen. 

Staff had recommended starting ride-sharing again in September when a surge in ridership is expected. If ridership surges before or after that time, that is when they will switch from solo rides back to ride-sharing.  

10. Subcommittee Reports and Updates

Communications Subcommittee (CS) – Bobbi Moore, Chair

A CS virtual meeting via Webex was held on July 2, 2020.

CS members discussed the outstanding items:

  • Interchange station announcements on subways – Milly Bernal, Customer Communications Specialist will provide an update at the next meeting.
  • Wheel-Trans stops at subway stations – Staff reported updates have been changed on the Wheel-Trans self-booking site which is live as of July 2, 2020.
  • Family of Services bus stop pole symbols – There will be an update in late fall 2020. All 16 Access Hubs are to be completed by end of summer 2020
  • Easier Access station accessibility upgrades remain a priority and short closures are being explored to speed up station accessibility upgrades.
  • Station accessibility and description information is not being updated on the TTC website because communications staff are extremely busy with COVID-19.

ACAT Feedback/Questions on COVID-19 – Responses from TTC Staff:

  • Temporary “drop-off only” mode is no longer in effect.
  • As of July 2, 2020, front and rear-door boarding started and the mandatory mask policy is in effect. Efforts are being made to advise the public of possible exemptions.

Mask Exemption Cards/Buttons:

  • CS members had seen the artwork for the mask exemption cards and buttons. The cards were now available and the buttons would be available shortly. Ways to distribute these are still being considered.
  • Hand sanitizer is available in all subway stations and will be in all WT vehicles soon.

Update on TTC Communications Campaigns:

  • Staff advised that the next campaign will likely focus on helping people feel safe travelling on the TTC again. ACAT will be asked for input.
  • CS members questioned physical distancing indicators for people with vision loss. Staff suggested that as ridership increases, physical distancing will become difficult, but asked if the subcommittee had any ideas.
  • CS members suggested that staff contact the tactile flooring provider the TTC sometimes uses who has some information or options. Staff agreed and will follow up.

CS members requested, in order to avoid confusion when the specific shade of blue appears to be the same or very similar to the ISA blue, that TTC staff be mindful of this concern and consider how colour choices could be changed or tweaked. Members emphasized that this shade of blue be reserved for accessibility as much as possible.

The Wheel-Trans Access newsletter was also discussed.

Questions and Comments from the Committee:

A member asked how it will be determined who is allowed to get the mask exemption cards and buttons, if people have to go and formally ask for them, or if an online tool is being used. Members also asked how it is being communicated that these cards and buttons are available.

Milly Bernal, Customer Communications Specialist, advised that people can call TTC Customer Service and Wheel-Trans Customer Service to request a button or card be mailed to them. If they would like to get one sooner, they can also go to the TTC Customer Service Centre at 1900 Yonge Street which has now reopened.

Staff are not medical professionals and are not requiring proof that people need the mask exemption cards and buttons for medical reasons. They are not promoting them widely and are trust that customers are using them appropriately. Information about the mask exemption cards and buttons is available on the TTC website, including any place where masks are mentioned. A Wheel-Trans email communication was sent out to all Wheel-Trans customers with an email address. Information is also included in the upcoming Wheel-Trans Access newsletter.

Design Review Subcommittee (DRS) – Chris Stigas, Chair

A DRS virtual meeting via Webex was held on July 8, 2020.

Staff presented the Easier Access design for Museum Station, which consists of two new elevators, including an elevator from street to concourse replacing the existing southwest stairs, and a new elevator from concourse to subway platform. The existing stairs and escalator to the subway platform will also be moved south. There will be a small elevator entrance building at street level, and there will be a stop and curb ramp for Wheel-Trans.

DRS members raised a few questions and concerns including:

  • Snow clearing outside of the elevator entrance building
  • The possibility of a layby for Wheel-Trans vehicles and where customers could wait
  • Request for a crosswalk or traffic light to permit people from the east side of Queens Park to access the elevator
  • Why the second exit is not going to be accessible
  • Ensuring sufficient space between the subway platform edge and the relocated stairs and escalator

Staff will take back these concerns. They advised that accessibility of the second exit is outside of the scope of the current project, but will be considered as part of the Easier Access 4 study.

A DRS virtual meeting via Webex was also held on July 20, 2020. The report on this meeting was deferred until the next ACAT meeting.

The next DRS meeting is on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

Questions and Comments from the Committee:

A member raised that they wanted to include the issue of adding accessible washrooms to any new station being built or major station retrofit. The current standards would need to be changed because they appear to indicate only terminal and interchange stations have washrooms. 

Staff advised that the plan is to add new washrooms at any new station; however, the TTC is no longer building new stations, as this has become the purview of Metrolinx. Staff have taken note of ACAT’s request for washrooms as part of ACAT’s feedback on the Islington Station Redevelopment and Easier Access: Preliminary Design Overview at the July 22, 2020 DRS meeting.

A member suggested that Victoria Park Station, where a staff washroom was made accessible, might offer a precedent for a creative solution to this issue. However, staff noted that while this washroom is accessible, it is not a public washroom.

A member stressed that ACAT should not rely on TTC staff to bring these issues forward and should take them to the TTC Board in the form of a motion. It was noted that, at the July 22, 2020 DRS meeting, the subcommittee suggested bringing a draft motion to its next meeting scheduled for August 18, 2020. If passed, this motion would then be reported at the ACAT meeting on August 27, 2020.

Committee members suggested that this motion could be a way to try to address a number of items:

  • New stations being built, probably by Metrolinx, having accessible washrooms
  • Changing the standards for the current Easier Access upgrades which do not adequately cover the issue of accessible washrooms
  • Including a second accessible entrance at all new stations

Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS) – Anita Dressler, Chair

There were no SPS meetings since the last ACAT meeting on June 25, 2020. The next SPS meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 12, 2020.

Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS) - Sam Savona, Chair

A WTOS virtual meeting via Webex was held on July 10, 2020.

Cameron Penman, Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans reported that the self-booking website has been reopened. Trip demands have risen, so it is important to provide the online booking option. Only occasional trips can be booked through the website. Regular/recurring trips must be vetted through Reservations. When customers book their trip using the self booking site, they are required to answer an online COVID-19 screening questionnaire to proceed to their trip. If they do not pass the questionnaire, they must contact Reservations about booking their trip. Also, advanced booking of trips has been extended from two days to seven days as it was pre-pandemic. The trip reminder/confirmation callouts have started at 7:00 p.m. rather than 5:00 p.m. as it was before.

Protective barriers will be installed on the entire Wheel-Trans fleet, with installation to begin imminently. The six-metre ProMasters will be the first vehicles to have barriers installed because it is harder to physically distance on these smaller vehicles. 

Charlene Sharpe, Manager – Planning and Policy, Wheel-Trans and Loris Dametto, Program Manager – Vehicle Procurement, provided an update on the progress of the new Wheel-Trans 7 metre ProMaster bus. Staff has been meeting weekly with the vehicle vendor Creative Carriage. A progress update had been emailed to all ACAT members on July 6, 2020. The email had indicated that the pilot vehicle would be delivered in July. However, the vendor and the TTC are carrying out a series of tests and it will not be in the TTC Maintenance department’s hands until August. The Joint Health and Safety Committee will do a detailed review and the vehicle will be made ready for ACAT to take a test drive or actual trip. Staff would like the entire ACAT group who reviewed the vehicle to have the opportunity to test it.

Marco Iorfida, Wheel-Trans Scheduling and Policy Specialist, reported on the Wheel-Trans stops and landmarks. All outstanding items have been resolved. The stop at the northeast corner of Yonge and Dundas, requested by ACAT, has been approved and now has gone to Service Planning for review of the stop and signage, etc.

Travel Training is currently paused due to COVID-19.

ACAT members are going to be involved in the testing of the Wheel-Trans mobile app. Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager – Customer Service, advised that the app was not yet ready to be tested by WTOS and ACAT. An email will be sent to members when the app is ready for the test phase, likely to be led by Charlene Sharpe.   

The next WTOS meeting is on Thursday, August 20, 2020.

11. ACAT Subcommittee Meeting Highlights for the Next TTC Board Meeting

CS:

  • Issues of access during the COVID-19 pandemic – the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on customers with disabilities and seniors
  • Recommendation of the use of the colour blue in accessibility communications

DRS:

  • Second accessible entrances and second elevators – Although these seem to be perceived as a nice-to-have item, they are essentially a human right. 

12. Report on TTC Board Meeting and Accessibility Matters

A TTC Board meeting was held on July 14, 2020 via Webex.

The approved minutes of the February 27, 2020 ACAT meeting were received by the Board.

TTC staff presented a report and a presentation titled “Wheel-Trans Transformation Program: 2020 Update”.

TTC staff presented a report titled “Easier Access Phase III: Project Status Report”. As part of the Easier Access Phase III accessibility initiative, staff recommended the construction authorization to make Donlands and College stations accessible with a second exit/entrance.

The ACAT Chair reported on the ACAT meeting highlights regarding the impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities:

“There needs to be a greater understanding of how the COVID-19 strategies impact seniors and people with disabilities disproportionality compared with able-bodied individuals. For example:

  • It is more difficult to hear through glass shields (not all hearing-impaired persons read lips). Also, masks hide lips, making it difficult for people with hearing challenges.
  • People who are blind or have low vision have difficulty social distancing as they cannot tell how far away they are from others, without sound/voice cues, especially as environments have changed.

Blind or persons with low-vision rely on physically touching objects for support or for obtaining information.
 
ACAT would also like to acknowledge the work that TTC staff have accomplished during this time. Some of this includes using one customer per vehicle, consulting with ACAT for the COVID-19 communication/education campaign and restarting ACAT meetings.”
 
People must continue to remain vigilant during this time and help each other as best they can. The vulnerable are usually the ones that suffer the greatest.

ACAT members are encouraged to review the TTC Board meeting agenda, reports and presentations from the July 14, 2020 meeting at:

http://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2020/July_14/Agenda/index.jsp

The recorded video of the entire meeting is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zikLgMFZDkk

The ACAT Chair informed the TTC Board of the next ACAT meeting on July 30, 2020 via Webex.

The next TTC Board meeting is on Thursday, September 24, 2020.

13. ACAT Recruitment 2021

Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager – Customer Service, provided an update on plans for ACAT Recruitment for 2021. The usual in-person information session will be shifted to an online process. The content usually provided by the ACAT Chair will be posted online for potential candidates to review.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document will be created and posted online to help prospective members understand the roles prior to committing to a position, underlining that ACAT membership is strictly voluntary. This draft online content will be shared with ACAT members for review and feedback before finalizing. Interviews and shortlisting meetings will happen over the phone or via Webex, depending on the candidates’ preference.

Questions and Comments from the Committee:

A member asked if there would be a quick way for candidates to receive responses to any questions they might have. Staff advised they will be posting the ACAT email address where applications and any questions can be sent. Wheel-Trans staff have access to the email and should be able to respond quickly given that the volume of emails is not high.

In response to a member, staff indicated that application forms should be available in a fillable online form, a downloadable PDF and Word format.

A member asked about planned marketing and public outreach efforts to let people know that members were being recruited for ACAT. They recommended the quicker the word gets out, the better so that people have enough time to apply. It was noted that the ACAT Terms of Reference outlines specific measures for advertising ACAT recruitment, including the newspaper and TTC website. 

Members made additional suggestions for advertising the recruitment, including a Wheel-Trans email blast (possibly with the FAQ or application attached), the Wheel-Trans Access newsletter if an issue is going out in early September, social media, and in-station communications, such as posters, screens and announcements.

Staff advised they would start the communications shortly once the necessary recruitment information was ready on the TTC website. Their plans include whatever communications channels have been used in the past and they will follow-up with ACAT members on further details, as desired.
 
In response to a member’s question, staff outlined the timeline for the recruitment process. Applications will be opened from September 1 to 14, 2020. The following week, applications will be reviewed and shortlisted. Starting September 21, 2020, TTC staff Lodon Hassan and Matt Hagg, ACAT Chair Mazin Aribi and a representative from the City will begin the interview process. Staff confirmed that the recommendation to the TTC Board of the appointment of the new ACAT members should be ready for the TTC Board meeting on October 21, 2020. Newly-appointed ACAT members would commence their term on January 1, 2021.

Members expressed some concern that the recruitment process was happening slightly later this year than they had earlier agreed, to allow ample time for selection, reporting to the TTC Board, Board consideration and decision. It was noted that the ACAT Terms of Reference may have been modified to reflect planned earlier recruitment each year.  

14. Review of Correspondence

Nil.

15. Other / New Business

Priority Bus Lane Implementation

A member flagged that the TTC Board had recently approved priority bus lane implementation. They noted that the accompanying project document does not appear to include consideration of accessibility beyond standard City of Toronto text on equity. Stakeholder consultation appears to have begun and the project is advancing quickly. The committee wondered if ACAT would have the opportunity to comment, possibly at a subcommittee meeting in the near future, and if ACAT had already had any previous input.

Matt Hagg, Senior Planner – System Accessibility advised that ACAT would have been made aware of priority bus lane implementation at a very high level as part of the 5-Year Service Plan consultation in 2019. It was agreed that the priority bus lane implementation Project Team would be invited to an upcoming Service Planning Subcommittee meeting to review plans for the project.

Wellesley Station

A member advised they had visited Wellesley Station, which has recently been made accessible, and will forward their feedback and accompanying photos to Matt Hagg.

16. Next Meeting – August 27, 2020

The next meeting of ACAT will be held on Thursday, August 27, 2020 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. via Webex.

17. Adjournment

On a motion by Jessica Geboers, the meeting was adjourned at 3:21 p.m.

Stephanie Power
Recording Secretary

18. Other / New Business

19. Next Meeting

20. Adjournment

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