Communications Subcommittee (CS) – Bobbie Moore, Chair
A CS meeting was held on November 5, 2020 via Webex.
The September 3, 2020 minutes were approved with one amendment and the October 8, 2020 minutes were approved with no amendments.
Station Descriptions on TTC Website
Alicia Fowlie, Senior Digital Communications Specialist will present an update on the station descriptions at the next CS meeting.
Interchange Station Announcements
Jeff Thurston, Communications Engineering Project Manager, provided an update on interchange station announcements on subways.
For trains, it is difficult to make changes to announcements with existing equipment because of the risk of losing data that currently exists. Thus, it was recommended by the TTC Communications Engineering Department that this item be put off until replacement to new hardware in the next two years.
Jeff Thurston also provided background on the project to improve the quality of subway train announcements. The train radio upgrading has been completed this year except on Line 3.
The quality of radio announcements, announcements from Transit Control or by the operator has improved and the TTC has received positive feedback from customers.
Ian Dickson, Manager of Wayfinding and Design, presented Wayfinding terminology in relation to train direction.
Wayfinding terminology aims to provide the simplest and clearest information so that customers can navigate the system by themselves. The wayfinding team has considered options to complement what TTC’s regional transit partners are using.
Historically cardinal direction was used to help people navigate through the system because for the most part, the TTC subway follows the grid configuration of Toronto’s streets. It made sense for TTC to use the terms northbound, southbound, eastbound and westbound for train direction.
In the future, new subway lines will be multi-directional with twists and turns. Terminal stations will be used to show train direction, instead of cardinal directions. For example, in the future, maps on the platform will start to indicate “Finch” at the top of them rather than “northbound”.
Future Transit System
Line 3 – The number three may be repurposed to represent the new Ontario subway line, which begins at the Science Centre station.
Line 4 – Is the Sheppard line. The line runs from Sheppard-Yonge station going eastward to Don Mills and the colour is cranberry red.
Line 5 – Is the Crosstown line. The line will run west from Kennedy and will run east-west for a portion and north-south to Pearson Airport. Its colour is orange. The first phase will terminate at Mt. Dennis.
Line 6 – Is the future Finch West line. The line will begin at Finch West station, which is currently on Line 1 and will run westward towards Humber College. Its colour is grey. It will do a south turn terminating at Humber College.
The TTC is in the process of implementing train direction using terminal stations slowly throughout the system. The project will be completed by 2025. The TTC is also working on major wayfinding updates that have been proposed in the budget for 2021-2024, but have not been approved yet by the TTC Board.
The TTC has updated its wayfinding sign standards so that all design teams working on expansion projects are aware of the new standards and are taking that into account for any designs they are producing.
The GO system is using the new wayfinding signs for all their trains and as TTC integrates the system with Metrolinx’s system it will use it across the GTA.
Wheel-Trans Eligibility Video
Lema Salaymeh, Senior Community Liaison and team received feedback from members for the video on new eligibility self-portal and the script has been edited to include everyone’s feedback.
News Release on 50th Accessible Station
Lema Salaymeh provided a verbal update regarding the 50th accessible station completion. Staff advised that due to Covid-19 restrictions there is a plan to have a news release sent out. The TTC is going to contact all the City Councillors and the Mayor to let them know about the 50th accessible station in the hopes of getting the word out through social media.
Corporate “we” Language
There was a lengthy discussion about this issue. Members were concerned that the use of “we” in communications would exclude people unintentionally. Staff advised that they were using it more when announcing positive news or when necessary due to word or character count restrictions. The new style guide has become a high priority and it should be done by the end of 2020.
Closed Captioning in ACAT meetings
The issue of inconsistent closed captioning for meetings was discussed. Members wondered if a meeting should be cancelled if there was no closed captioning. Every year, members are asked to advise of any accommodation needs they may have.
Members agreed that all ACAT General Meetings should use closed captioning.
ACAT members suggested that Ian Dickson be invited to make the presentation on Wayfinding terminology to an upcoming ACAT General Meeting.
Design Review Subcommittee (DRS) – Chris Stigas, Chair
A DRS meeting was held on November 18, 2020 via WebEx.
This meeting focussed on two topics – Easier Access Phase 4 Study and the Easier Access Phase 3 design for Old Mill Station.
Easier Access Phase 4 Study
An update presentation was presented by Josephine Macharia regarding Easier Access Phase 4. This study will rank and prioritize secondary accessible routes in key stations. This study began back in the summer where DRS members at the August 18 meeting provided feedback and a sample of which key stations will be prioritized in the study.
The initial stations evaluated included consisted of:
- St George
- Sheppard West
- Downsview park
The remaining stations will be added next.
Questions and concerns from DRS members were as follows;
In regards to Kipling Station, the reason behind it scoring high on the priority list is because it connects and services two other municipal public transit systems, is far away from the next accessible station, and serves a high number of customers.
In regards to St. George Station the main reason is the sheer amount of traffic at that station and only having one accessible elevator. That station also has the largest senior population within a few kilometres.
In regards to Osgoode station, this station uses a third-party elevator and if in fact this third-party locked the doors such as what happened during the first wave of Covid-19 the station is essentially not accessible. It also has a very high ridership potential because of its location and also ranks high based on future considerations as it’s been identified as an urban growth area by the city.
Staff explained that this process is intuitive and allows stations to move up and down this priority list based on the context of the community as it grows and changes.
DRS members recommended the following stations receive a site visit to ensure that the priority assigned reflects real world conditions:
- North York Centre
- York Mills
DRS suggested revisiting the list every time a station becomes accessible in order to accommodate new Wheel-Trans trips going to that station. Other suggestions were to add the frequency of elevator failure at a particular station to the list for consideration, and also identifying stations having centre platforms versus side platforms for priority ranking.
Easier Access Phase 3 – Old Mill Station
Saeid Hamedi, Project Manager, presented the Easier Access Phase 3 designs for Old Mill station. This station will receive two elevators one on each side from street to track level. Bus platform and station entrance are currently accessible.
DRS suggested having a waiting area at the bus entrance since it will now be serving Wheel-Trans. Staff confirmed that all wayfinding signs would be replaced in that station highlighting accessible paths and features.
DRS suggested that the buttons for the elevator to be added on the sides of the corridor instead of the front of the elevator where it might be difficult because of clearance for wheelchair users to access the buttons.
In order to improve street car consistency with service times along the King St. corridor, streetcar platforms were moved east and west respectively in order to accommodate two street cars stopping at a TTC stop and not encroach on the intersection. This caused ramps from the sidewalk down to the street to end up in locations that directly blocked the only accessible door to the streetcar.
Chris Stigas completed a site visit with TTC’s Alex Miller from the Transit Stops Planning team and assessed intersections on King Street between John Street and Church Street. All ramp relocation measurements were recorded by Alex and submitted to TTC’s engineering department and then over to the city to expedite changes over the next month or so.
The next DRS meeting is December 2, 2020.
Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS) – Anita Dressler, Chair
A SPS meeting was held on November 4, 2020 via Webex.
The main agenda items referred to E-scooters and E-bikes, Support Person Cards, and issues impacting frontline staff identifying persons in mental health crisis.
The members of the committee had a lengthy discussion and recommended a motion, regarding e-scooters and e-bikes causing safety concerns and hindrance, to pedestrians and people with disabilities at transit stops.
The issue of e-scooters and e-bikes should be treated the same as bicycles with a proposal to update the by-law rules accordingly.
The following proposed motion was moved by the Service Planning Subcommittee for ACAT endorsements and to be presented to the TTC Board at the next meeting:
As e-scooters, e-bikes and such have grown in popularity, it has become a safety concern of ACAT. These devices could be operated and left on TTC properties, in a manner that is an impediment to accessibility. It is a safety issue for customers with disabilities, seniors and pedestrians near and on TTC properties. ACAT recommends that the TTC Board ban the operation of e-scooters and e-bikes on TTC properties and that the definition and rules for bicycles be expanded to include e-scooters and e-bikes.
Another item of concern related to applications for support persons.
Members suggested that since the application is two pages and the pages can get separated, an additional box be placed at the top of each page with the applicant's name.
Also, recommended was to change the card validity from three to five years similar to drivers' licences.
There is a concern regarding obtaining photos for these cards. Presently, there are two options to accommodate the process of the application.
- Attend the TTC, Photo ID Centre, or
- A passport style photo taken at a passport studio
Members suggested a third option, which is to take a self-photo near a blank wall and follow the guidelines set forth in the application. This would apply a similar process to some Universities on how they take photos.
Lastly, members discussed Mental Health Support training for frontline workers and suggested that new procedures and messaging be given on how to identify persons in crisis. It was identified that some frontline staff do not understand certain situations that require attention.
This item will be for discussion at a future Service Planning Subcommittee meeting.
The next SPS meeting is December 2, 2020.
Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS) - Sam Savona, Chair
A WTOS meeting was held on November 12, 2020 via Webex.
Marco Iorfida, Scheduling and Policy Specialist, along with Angela Marley, provided an update on all of the subway landmarks on the landmark system. This work is ongoing.
Stephanie Gobin, Project Co-ordinator, explained how customers opt into how they receive information on Wheel-Trans. She said that Wheel-Trans was initially using the GIRO scheduling system for sending emails to customers. Recently, Wheel-Trans received a lot of bounce-back emails and decided to switch to Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). The advantages of CRM are that it can both send emails and store and save email addresses.
Most customers who have an online account or have registered to the Wheel-Trans Self-Booking site will have their email accounts saved in CRM. This will be used for creating a list to send out the Access newsletter or email blasts. Customers have the option to opt-in or opt-out of receiving emails. For customers who have an email address but would prefer to receive physical mail, Staff will make a notation of that in GIRO. The mailing address list gets created and physical copies are sent out.
Members suggested to provide the option to choose the communication preference upon registration on the Wheel-Trans Self-Booking website.
Stephanie Gobin explained that customers can indicate their communication preference when calling Wheel-Trans Customer Service. Customers can also opt-out of email communications by clicking the unsubscribe link on the bottom of the marketing email. Their preference will be updated in CRM, and they will no longer get emails.
Staff explained that during Phase 3, self-booking customers will be able to add an email address, phone number or mailing address.
Ross Visconti, Project Manager – GIRO, provided an update on the newest features available on the Wheel-Trans Self-Booking website. These are some of the features:
- Ability to Start Regular Trip Requests on the Same Day
Even though regular trip bookings (location you go to on a regular basis) are not currently available because of COVID-19, the feature has been added in the background.
- Automated Scheduling of Regional Trip Requests to Transfer Points
Currently, customers are able to book trips to and from transfer points. The new feature will allow customers to book directly from their home address in Toronto to their destination address, outside of Toronto. However, customers will only be able to schedule the Wheel-Trans portion of their trips on the Wheel-Trans Self-Booking site. The GTA part will have to be booked separately on a different website.
- Selecting Locations by a Droppable Pin on a Map
The option will allow customers to select 10 addresses from their recent list.
- Ability to Select Different Notification Options such as Phone, E-mail and Mobile App.
Mobile app users will also have the option to receive mobile app notifications as an alert on their phones.
- More FOS Routes and Stops and more FOS trips Offered
With more route and more stops available, more FOS trips will be available to customers.
- Scheduling Improvements of FOS Trips to Reduce Total Travel Times
In order to offer customers, the most efficient trip, FOS trip will be calculated on the time of trip rather than its length.
- Wording Changes Recommended by ACAT
A few of the wording changes previously recommended by ACAT have been implemented. The rest will be implemented during Phase 3 with a tool that was requested from the vendor.
The following features are available in the app background mainly for internal Wheel-Trans purposes.
- On-Time Performance Dashboard
This feature will be implemented for Dispatchers and Managers in order to maintain on time service. It will indicate which trips are running late and display all modes including taxis and buses. Dispatchers and Managers will be able to also locate vehicles on the map.
- Scheduling Optimization Improvements
By using vehicles more efficiently, it will create more space on buses and reduce the taxi contractors cost for the share riding of trips.
- Adding Routes and Stops for FOS Trips
A feature allowing users to quickly add a route and quickly either add or subtract the stop along that route was implemented for FOS trips. Wheel-Trans will no longer need to rely on the vendor to add routes and stops for FOS trips.
- New Warning Messages for Dispatch and Service Support
When Dispatch or staff is trying to do a function that could have a negative result to the customer, they will get a warning message. For instance, if a Dispatcher is manually putting too many customers at the same time, the warning message will indicate that the vehicles is over capacity.
Charlene Sharpe, Acting Divisional Manager – Operations, and Loris Dametto, Vehicle Procurement Program Manager, presented an update on the 7M Pro Master vehicle. Nine (9) ACAT members took a test ride on the 7m Pro Master bus. The feedback was mostly positive and all members indicated that the interior brightness, lighting and temperature regulation were good. The white interior of the new vehicle will help for a better visibility. Regarding the rear ramp, ACAT members had concerns about it being too steep.
The vehicle did its first ride with customers. Until December 4, 2020, Wheel-Trans customers will be asked to provide their feedback after their ride. Following their ride, Customer Service will solicit generic feedback through a survey.
7m Bus Operators are trained to explain the new features to customers. Two Operators per week are provided with training. A discussion among ACAT members with staff regarding the feedback on the vehicle was held on November 24, 2020.
Cameron Penman, Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans presented an update on the Contact Centre for the month of October.
Cameron reported that the average speed of calls answered in the Reservation queue was 7 minutes and 14 seconds which is below the current target of 15 minutes.
In September, the average speed of calls answered was 1 minute and 31 seconds.
Cameron also reported on the Wheel-Trans applications for Wheel-Trans service and customer service complaints.
- 509 new applications came in October.
- 239 were conditional
- 81 were unconditional
- 181 were temporary
- 8 were ineligible
- 560 eligibility decisions were made and half of them were conditional
- 23% were unconditional
- 27% were temporary and 1% were ineligible
A total of 178 customer service complaints were received, as follows:
- 65% - Vehicle Operations complaints
- 16% - Contact Center complaints
- 19% - Service Delivery complaints
- 19% - Accommodations complaints
Recently awarded contract, TELUS Communications began at the end of November to handle overflow calls in Reservations. The target is to alleviate Wheel-Trans customers’ wait time from 15 minutes to 2 minutes. TELUS Communications team will be held accountable. Wheel-Trans Customers are advised when they are transferred to TELUS agents through a pre-recorded greeting message.
The next WTOS meeting will be held on December 11, 2020.