ACAT Meeting - March 25, 2021


Meeting Info

Date:Thursday, March 25, 2021
Start Time:1:00 p.m.
Location:Webex
Meeting No:364
  • Agenda
  • Meeting Minutes
    1. Call to Order / Attendance
    2. Land Acknowledgement
    3. Declaration of Conflict of Interest
    4. Approval of Agenda
    5. Remarks from ACAT Chair
      1. TTC Board Meeting and Accessibility Matters: Nil (No meeting held)
      2. ACAT Executive Quarterly Meeting with TTC CEO and TTC Chair
    6. Review and Approval of February 25, 2021 Minutes
    7. Outstanding Items
    8. Deputation: Nil
    9. Review of Correspondence: Nil
    10. COVID-19 Updates
    11. Subcommittee Reports, Highlights and Updates
      - Communications
      - Design Review
      - Service Planning
      - Wheel-Trans Operations
    12. Wheel-Trans Transformation Updates
    13. Other / New Business
    14. Next Meeting – April 29, 2021
    15. Adjournment

Present

  • Igor Samardzic, ACAT Chair
  • Debbie Gillespie, Co-Vice Chair
  • Chris Stigas, Co-Vice Chair
  • Margo Brodie
  • Gwyneth Dalzell
  • Carmen Galvan
  • Sean Hollingsworth
  • Angela Marley
  • Jonathan Marriott
  • Craig Nicol
  • James Pyo
  • Lauri Sue Robertson
  • Sam Savona
  • Janice Shachter
  • Mahendan Sivabalasundaram

ACAT Pool Members

  • Kim Pearson
  • Howard Wax
  • Rhonda Cheryl Solomon
  • John Rae

TTC Representatives

  • Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans
  • Al Pritchard, Head of Vehicle Maintenance
  • John Boucher – Manager, Lakeshore Garage, Wheel-Trans
  • David Lo Presti, Manager - Contracted Taxi Services, Wheel-Trans
  • Stephan Boston, Chief Instructor, Operations Training Centre
  • Heather Brown, Manager – Customer Communications
  • Anastassia Chouryguina, Manager - Planning and Policy, Wheel-Trans
  • Loris Dametto, Program Manager – Bus & Wheel-Trans Procurement, Vehicle Programs
  • Dean Milton, Manager – Strategic Initiatives, Wheel-Trans
  • Cameron Penman, Manager – Customer Service, Wheel-Trans
  • Charlene Sharpe, Manager – Divisional Manager, Wheel-Trans
  • Lucy Siraco, Manager – Diversity
  • Lema Salaymeh – Senior Community Liaison
  • Matt Hagg, Senior Planner – System Accessibility
  • Grace Permaul – Human Rights Consultant

Invited Guests

  • Julie Osborne – TTC Board Member
  • Fenton Jagdeo – TTC Board Member

1. Call to Order / Attendance

The meeting was called to order at 1:06 p.m. and attendance was taken.

2. Land Acknowledgement

Land acknowledgement was read and will be included in all ACAT General meetings moving forward.

3. Declaration of Conflict of Interest

Nil.

4. Approval of Agenda

On a motion by Sam Savona, seconded by Margo Brodie, the agenda was approved.

5. Remarks from ACAT Chair

Igor Samardzic, ACAT Chair, opened the meeting by acknowledging the two TTC Board Commissioners present, Commissioner Julie Osborne and Commissioner Fenton Jagdeo. He thanked the TTC Board for ongoing support of accessible transit in Toronto and encouraged Board members to attend any ACAT General meetings in the future.

a. TTC Board Meeting and Accessibility Matters

There were no TTC Board meetings in March. The next TTC Board meeting is scheduled on April 14, 2021.

The Infrastructure and Environment committee of the City of Toronto proposed a motion to delegate authority to the General Manager, Transportation Services to extend a temporarily closure on vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic as required for the purposes of the Easier Access Phase III projects. ACAT sent a note in support for this initiative through Debbie Gillespie, ACAT’s Co-Vice Chair.

b. ACAT Executive Quarterly Meeting with TTC CEO and TTC Chair

On March 9, 2021, the ACAT Executive met with Rick Leary, CEO, Rachael Van Frassen, Chief of Staff for the TTC Chair’s Office and Joanne De Laurentiis, TTC Vice-Chair.

Igor Samardzic, ACAT Chair discussed the E-Scooter motion that was passed by ACAT a couple of months ago. This motion needs to be brought up to the TTC Board and ACAT executives and staff working together to finalize the motion before presenting it to the Board. The next item discussed was Eglinton Crosstown collaboration. There were some concerns over a strained relationship between TTC and Metrolinx due to the lack of timely communication and feedback related to the Eglinton Crosstown and other Metrolinx projects. This issue was brought to the attention of TTC staff and to seek possible solutions for better engagement with Metrolinx staff and the projects that are currently worked on. Staff will be coming to the next ACAT Design Review Subcommittee meeting on April 7, 2021 to discuss the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and its readiness activities in addition to some of the other issues.

Questions and Comments from the Committee

A member shared their experience through an encounter with E-scooters on the sidewalks along Yonge Street, and noticed that the rider had a delivery backpack.

6. Review and Approval of February 25, 2021 Minutes

Approval of the February 25, 2021 Minutes were deferred until the next ACAT General meeting.

Questions and Comments from the Committee

Members suggested to include the Subcommittee reports as appendices in order to shorten the minutes.

Other members explained that this option is not applicable since subcommittee reports contains private information that cannot be shared with the public. Additionally, there would be no way to attach them on the website where they are currently posted.

7. Outstanding Items

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. This item will be moved to the Communications Subcommittee for follow-up communications work and will be removed from the ACAT General outstanding items list.
  • Item: Update on the New TTC Website and Updated Station Descriptions which have been on hold – Ongoing.
    This item will be moved to the Communications Subcommittee and will be removed from the ACAT General outstanding items list. A presentation will be made at the next Communications Subcommittee meeting.
  • Item: ACAT Terms of Reference – Ongoing.

Have received feedback from TTC staff and ACAT members. Once all edits have been compiled, the ACAT Terms of Reference will be sent out to ACAT Executives and members for a discussion and approval. The item has been moved to the future items list.

Future Items

  • Item: GTHA Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) Joint Meeting – Ongoing.  York Region is scheduled to be hosting the next meeting and the meeting date is currently being determined.
    Deputants - Meenu Sikand and Dennise Carrasco- Service on Kilgour Road as it relates to Holland Bloorview Children Rehabilitation Centre – Ongoing.
    This item has been moved to the Service Planning Subcommittee and will be incorporated as part of the 2022 Annual Service Plan process.

Questions and Comments from the Committee

Members discussed reason for moving the item Review of the Impact of Curb-Side Bike Lanes on Wheel-Trans Customers and Operators in Accessing Certain Pick-Up / Drop-Off Locations to the Communications Subcommittee outstanding list.

Staff explained the movement was due to an element of communications to customers. The message is for customers to be mindful of bike lanes and explained that vehicles may be in the lane when on-boarding or off-boarding at a particular spot in a bike lane. The TTC can assist with communications internally as well to its operators to remind them to be mindful of where they are stopping. The message will be integrated from a customer facing perspective, as part of the TTC’s ongoing safety messages that are shared on social media. It will also be part of TTC’s safety campaign that partners with the Toronto Police.

Members recommended TTC get in touch with the cycling associations in Toronto. They also suggested that the two different topics discussed regarding bike lanes be discussed by only one subcommittee. Members stressed the need to find some way to convey to cyclists, they need to stop when the Wheel-Trans vehicle stops such as adding stop signs to the back of Wheel-Trans buses or flashing light. Additional suggestions were to continue to work with the Ministry of Transportation around the Highway Traffic Act and reinforce training of TTC operators.

Members requested that while the ACAT Terms of Reference be updated a review be made on other ACAT documents.

Staff will take that back and advised reviews are in progress.

8. Deputation

Nil.

9. Review of Correspondence

Nil.

10. COVID-19 Updates

Heather Brown, Manager of Customer Communications presented the item.
 
The TTC and the City of Toronto have partnered to provide Wheel-Trans customers with rides to the mass vaccination clinics. Information is being provided to people to ensure that anyone who wants a vaccine has the ability to get vaccinated.
 
Signage will be posted at subway stations closest to the mass vaccination site, including signs that will help navigate customers to the closest exits.

Questions and Comments from the Committee

Members inquired about stations that are not yet accessible such as Lawrence Station and how would customers get assistance.

Staff explained the information will be available to customers on the bus platform and other specific points where customers would be exiting the station. In some cases, shuttle buses will be provided to the mass vaccination clinics. For example, there is shuttle bus service at Finch Station to the Mitchell Field vaccination site, and signage will direct people to the shuttle bus area. Information is also promoted on the bus route, the station description pages on the TTC website and on social media.

Members inquired about a separate initiative accessible to people that are not Wheel-Trans customers.

Members recommended that information about rides to mass vaccination clinics be posted on the main page of the TTC Website as a link so that it is accessible to everyone and easy to find. Members stressed the importance for people to easily find a clinic in their area and find out how they can get there.

11. Subcommittee Reports and Updates

Communications Subcommittee (CS) – Angela Marley, CS Chair

The CS meetings were held on March 4 and March 18, 2021 via Webex. The second meeting on March 18, 2021 was dedicated to the development of TTC’s new website.

CS Meeting on March 4, 2021

Ian Dickson, Manager Design and Wayfinding, provided a demonstration of the TTC’s new virtual station tour, showing Union Subway Station. These station tours will be linked to Google Maps. Responses to members; the virtual tours and station descriptions are drawn from the same central source that the TTC web site uses; Staff are determining what resources will be required to maintain virtual station content and this will shape re-scans and updates. The TTC has purchased all the material including 3D cameras and computers and staff have been trained.

Lema Salaymeh, Senior Community Liaison for Wheel-Trans, reviewed the Self-Serve Portal video with members. It is on YouTube, giving Wheel-Trans applicants the option to complete their application online, guiding them through the process. Wheel-Trans Customer Service provides paper application forms upon request. Members recommended sending applications in PDF format upon request. It was recommended to use plain language for better understanding by people with cognitive disabilities and people for whom English is not their first language.

The items referred to CS by ACAT at the February 25, 2021 meeting were forwarded to applicable staff for follow up. Subcommittee members reviewed the Priority Seating education campaign that the TTC and the Ontario Public Seating Association are creating to post on transit vehicles.

CS Meeting on March 18, 2021

After reviewing the beta site for TTC’s new website, subcommittee members and Craig Nicol met with TTC Information Technology staff to discuss members’ feedback. There were concerns on accessibility such as the use of screen readers, font and information that were incorrectly inserted. Members found the new site easy to navigate due to knowledge of previous site. They recommended testing the new site with people who are not familiar with the current TTC website. Members recommended adjusting code to the highest standards so that it is optimal for keyboard navigation and to ensure it is up to date. Updates will be provided at the next meeting.

CS Highlights for the meeting are:

  • Website updates
  • The Wheel-Trans Online Portal Video

The next meeting is scheduled for April 1, 2021.

Questions and Comments to the Subcommittee

Members recommended incorporating highest standards of code for the website and its accessibility features. It would be a lot easier for mobile devices to access the site and will allow for better updates, opportunity for more elements as technology evolves instead of having to rebuild the whole website that could quickly become obsolete with current standards.

Design Review Subcommittee (DRS) – Craig Nicol, DRS Chair

The DRS meetings were held on March 3 and March 17, 2021 via Webex.

DRS Meeting on March 3, 2021

Waterfront East LRT Area 1

Steve Stewart, Senior Project Manager and Vincent Teng, Project Manager from Engineering, Construction and Expansion department, presented on Area 1 of the Waterfront East LRT Project and the changes that would need to be made to Union and Queen’s Quay streetcar stations. The project would facilitate a flexible operation of the existing streetcar service and new service east along Queen's Quay. Safety and accessibility would be enhanced with higher streetcar platforms and additional elevator and stair access.

Questions and Comments to the Subcommittee

Members raised the issue of wayfinding on an enlarged "U" shaped platform at Union Station. In addition, boarding height was discussed clarifying that level boarding is not possible but that the "short ramp" would be needed.

Easier Access Phase IV Study

The Easier Access Phase IV study ranks stations priorities for future accessibility improvements such as secondary accessible paths and elevators. Factors considered include network connectivity and strategic local access.

Questions and Comments to the Subcommittee

Members suggested keeping priority on high-ranking terminus and interchange stations. Members also advised that stations not be considered out of scope when twinning of elevators was the only way to provide a secondary accessible route.

Other Items

DRS members were advised that the April 7, 2021 meeting will focus on Eglinton Crosstown with the TTC’s LRT Operations team who will be coordinating the implementation of the new line with Metrolinx.

DRS Meeting on March 17, 2021

Guests from Waterfront Toronto, DTAH and Arup presented proposed design plans for the Waterfront East Area 2 and lessons learned from Queen’s Quay West. Streetcar stops and access for Queen's Quay West and East are similar with some adjustment to improve separation at the crosswalk / Martin Goodman bicycle trail intersections.

Questions and Comments from the Subcommittee

Members raised the issue of adequate pedestrian crossing times for north-south crossings. The proposed delineating 5cm grade differential between the pedestrian and bicycle paths were also discussed.

DRS Highlights for the meeting are:

  • Waterfront Transit Expansion Design Review
  • Easier Access IV Prioritization Study

The next meeting is scheduled for April 7, 2021.

Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS) – Carmen Galvan, SPS Chair

The SPS meeting was held on March 3, 2021 via Webex.

The main items that were discussed included 1. Electric Kick-Scooters (E-scooters) - Accessibility Feedback, 2. Yonge Tomorrow Project and 97 Yonge Bus Route and 3. Other Items/New Business.

1. Electric Kick-Scooters (E-scooters) - Accessibility Feedback

Janet Lo, Senior Project Manager at the City of Toronto presented the item.

Questions and Comments from the Subcommittee

Members inquired if E-scooters were legal in Toronto and staff explained that they were mostly illegal in Ontario except in municipalities that have authorized them under the Province’s pilot program and on private property such as in the Distillery District for instance. Toronto has not authorized E-scooters to-date.

Members shared concerns regarding people with invisible disabilities and people from the neurodivergent community. E-scooters can cause issues related to excessive auditory input. There were also concerns that they would take too much space on the sidewalks that are already busy with Café TO, the patio extension project.

Members were all in favor of banning the use of e-scooters within the TTC transit system, including on sidewalks at transit stops.

Next Steps

The City of Toronto is publishing the Infrastructure and Environment Committee report on April 28, 2021. ACAT’s feedback will be taken into consideration during preparation of the report.

2. Yonge Tomorrow Project and 97 Yonge Bus Route

The Yonge Tomorrow Project will narrow Yonge Street and will have the flexibility to potentially close off pedestrian access during the daytime with buses running during nighttime.

At the December presentation ACAT members brought up that the 97 Yonge bus route is an option for people with limited mobility in the area but with this project the 97 Yonge would no longer be available.

If the city does approve closing any portion of Yonge Street to vehicles, there will be additional opportunities for making any necessary changes as part of the TTC Annual Service Plan process. By the end of the year the TTC will bring the Annual Service Plan for the following year to the Board for approval meaning the TTC would start reviewing those options in 2022 and SPS would bring them for consultation that year. Staff suggested adding the item to the SPS outstanding items list as an item that will be discussed in 2022, if construction starts in 2023.

3. Other Items / New Business
 
Bus Stop Maps

A member advised the height and location of transit network maps in transit shelters are not accessible because they are located too high up and above the bench. Staff explained that map placement in transit shelters is the responsibility of the City of Toronto but the TTC will pass along this matter for consideration.

MiWay Terminals

The terminal for MiWay (Mississauga) buses has been moved from Islington to Kipling station and the area is now fenced off. Customers now walk underground for several minutes conveniently located at the station. Staff advised that construction is not yet complete and the accessible route will be more direct once it is done.

Construction at Kennedy Station

Members noted that the station was hard to navigate due to construction. Staff explained that construction on the Metrolinx Eglinton Crosstown Line 5 was underway and that the line should be open next year. Access will be more challenging until construction wraps up.

Construction at Lansdowne Station

Members noted the bus stop at Lansdowne station was not in service due to construction and on-bus notifications/announcements about the change were inconsistent. Staff mentioned it was last minute work that was being done but in future will make an effort to have consistency in all announcements.

SPS Highlights for the meeting are:

  • scooter Ban Accessibility discussion
  • Yonge Tomorrow Project and 97 Yonge Bus conversation

The next meeting is scheduled for April 7, 2021.

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

The WTOS report has been deferred and will be presented at the next ACAT General meeting.

12. Wheel-Trans Transformation Updates

Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans and Loris Dametto, Program Manager of Bus & Wheel-Trans Procurement presented the item.

Wheel-Trans received feedback for improvements on the mobile app. These recommendations have been noted and the team is working in making the improvements in the mobile app.

Wheel-Trans customer service has sent an email to Wheel-Trans customers about the vaccine program and the methods that the TTC are using to assist. The information is also available on the website and the Wheel-Trans teams also open to recommendations from ACAT on the item.

Wheel-Trans is also focusing in on anti-racism improvements. The focus was triggered by an incident that occurred recently with a racist comment made from a customer to a reservationist. The incident highlighted for both Wheel-Trans and the TTC the importance of standing up for anti-Black racism, anti-Asian, or any form of racism. This will go through the Wheel-Trans subcommittee, and changes to the code of conduct policy related to customers will be in line with reinforcing our commitment to ban all forms of racism.

7M ProMaster Vehicle Update

Loris Dametto, Program Manager – Bus & Wheel-Trans Procurement presented the update on the last three configuration elements.

He presented the following items: Rear Ramp Slope, Side Ramp deployment indicator, location of call buttons.

Rear Ramp Slope

The vehicle was brought to the manufacturer for a number of items and changes were also documented. The manufacturer tested and validated the proposed rear ramp configuration to ensure the proper slope ratio. The vendor confirmed that the rear ramp of the production 7m ProMaster vehicles will be similar to the 6m ProMaster vehicles. Following discussions with maintenance staff, they included a rear ramp arm and hardware in order to include more robust parts. The interior vertical edge of the ramps will be yellow in color.

Side Ramp deployment indicator

It was suggested to implement a side ramp deployment indicator similar to what is on the low-floor streetcars with pictograms at the rear of the vehicle that flashes when approaching vehicles. A legal review of this was completed and Wheel-Trans vehicles displaying flashing red lights with ‘do not pass’ will be in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act and a breach of such display is not enforceable. Flashing yellow lights and signage on the side doors of the Wheel-Trans vehicle are not in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act, however a breach of such display is still not enforceable.

Charlene Sharpe, Divisional Manager of Wheel-Trans reached out for legal counsel from TTC’s Legal department regarding the Highway Traffic Act as well as Ministry of Transportation. They have confirmed that signage on the rear of the vehicle, indicating ‘do not pass’ would be in violation of the Highway Traffic Act, any lighting system on the rear in any color other than amber would also be in violation of the Highway Traffic Act. However, the yellow flashing lights indicator on the side doors the vehicle as well as the signage are permissible.

Wheel-Trans asked its legal department for a way to amend the Highway Traffic Act, in order to make something enforceable. Proposed amendments to existing legislation are carried out by way of a bill, which must be passed through all stages prescribed by the legislature in order to become law in Ontario. The following are the three kinds of public bills. Government bill which was introduced by Cabinet members and ministers. Private Member's public bills which are introduced by members who are not ministers, and finally the third way of doing it is committee bills which are introduced by the chairs of certain standing committees. Significant lobbying would probably have to be done in order to bring this up to their attention in order to make something enforceable similar to the streetcars and similar to school bus.

The current proposal is flashing yellow lights at mid height on each bi-fold door when the side doors are open. In addition, the flashing yellow lights at the rear of the vehicle will be enabled when the side doors are open. Wheel-Trans can enlist the Marketing and Customer Communications department to develop and deploy a campaign regarding cyclists and e-scooters when side doors are open.

Location of Call Buttons

The suggested call buttons preferred by ACAT are currently designed only to be used on stanchions, and are not configurable for mounting on walls or under seats. The bus manufacturer has reached out to the vendor who indicated that they will require some time to redesign the call button.  

There are also tape strip style call buttons similar to the ones installed on the pilot bus and that it can be used on walls or under seats. The tape strip is configurable to different lengths, and are more sensitive. The next steps include installation of the more sensitive tape strip buttons onto the 7m ProMaster pilot vehicle. Two tape strip locations will be included on the pilot vehicle.

The team will install these new sensitive style tape strips and obtain feedback from ACAT. In addition, the bus manufacture will engage the call button manufacturer on the wall mounted style or the flush mounted style. There is also a plan to develop a pictogram for the side door that will be presented to ACAT when completed.

Questions and Comments from the Committee

Members shared concerns about the flashing middle light for customers that have neurological issues. Based on the height of where the lights are installed and of a person's eyes there are concerns that the light can be blinding, possibly unsafe for people with migraines or potentially trigger an episode of epilepsy.

It was also suggested to add an audible cue or an automated voice that acts like a warning for pedestrians, cyclists and people to hear. The message would say: ‘doors are opening’. The current configuration of the side ramp when engaged does make an audible noise.

13. Other / New Business

Nil.

14. Next Meeting – April 29, 2021

The next meeting of ACAT will be held on Thursday, April 29, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. via Webex.

15. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 3:47 p.m. by Angela Marley.

Valentine Benichou
Recording Secretary

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