Communications Subcommittee (CS) – Angela Marley, CS Chair
CS meetings were held on May 6, 2021 and June 3, 2021 via Webex.
CS meeting on May 6, 2021
TTC Board meetings and YouTube
Chrisanne Finnerty, Director of Commission Services reported that staff reviewed the concerns raised by ACAT members regarding the YouTube feeds for the TTC Board meetings. For recording testing purposes, the live feed usually starts earlier (two to five minutes) before the meeting. Chimes were played during this time as an audio cue and visual information indicates the meeting status. Another issue was raised on whether airtime could be pared down when the meeting is in camera. It was not recommended by the team. Live captioning occurs during the meeting and the captioning is reviewed for accuracy, then is applied post meeting. A member inquired if the start of the live video can be an audio message instead of a chime. Staff response is forthcoming.
Angela Marley previously raised concerns regarding the new website’s accessibility and ease of use for people with low vision. CS feedback has centered on issues faced by users of screen reading technology.
Bob Dodd, Manager of Digital Accessibility at the CNIB, responded to her font accessibility inquiry. He reviewed the TTC beta launching page and voluntarily created an 18-minute video of accessibility issues he found. Angela shared this video with the Communications Subcommittee members and staff. Mr. Dodd recommended the font family should be changed from what he assumed was Arial Narrow to Verdana and the colour contrast should also be considered.
Alicia Fowlie, Senior Digital Communications Specialist, stated the website project team considered both suggestions and changed the font family to Verdana. Also, the Google Translate menu was moved from the bottom of the page to the top. Before launching the new website, the Digital Communications team is considering some other areas identified by Mr. Dodd.
The launch of the new website is delayed as the team continues correcting issues and building in additional features that were originally planned to launch later. No launch date has been set. There will be ongoing opportunities for customers to give feedback.
Ways to draw public attention to ACAT and the committee work
Members suggested: engaging the public more by soliciting feedback, use simpler language in communications, encourage engagement through social media posts and, during the TTC’s 100 birthday year, highlight 100 years of accessibility improvements.
Heather Brown acknowledged that currently, public involvement in ACAT Webex meetings have limitations but this is being worked on to enable public participation, similar to TTC Board meetings.
Communications items raised at ACAT General Meeting
ACAT members requested to be advised of what routes buses with the new information screens will be on so they can travel on the routes and provide feedback. Staff will provide details when the screens are launched.
CS Highlights for next Board Meeting
- New Website
- Ways to draw attention to ACAT and its work
- OPTA accessibility campaign – joint communications project with GTA Transit agencies.
CS meeting on June 3, 2021
Alicia Fowlie, Senior Digital Communications Specialist provided an update on the status of the new website and updates to the ACAT section on ttc.ca. The ACAT updates were ready for the new member recruitment and include an introduction by the ACAT Chair. Members continue to monitor accessibility advising TTC use current AODA / WCAG guidelines for digital compliance. A launch date has not been decided.
Heather Brown reported that the TTC’s 100th anniversary is on September 1, 2021. Initiatives are planned to acknowledge this milestone. Events will evolve based on the level of COVID-19 restrictions that are in place. This will start with photography exhibits in 12 different subway stations highlighting 100 Years of Moving Toronto, also by promoting the City of Toronto Archives 100 Years of Moving Toronto virtual web exhibit, and will expand into 2022. When conditions permit, there will be larger public celebrations. TTC Shop will have commemorative items including a TTC 100th Anniversary book for sale this fall.
Members recommended that there be an audio or accessible version of the commemorative book and staff accepted the offer of resource contact. Members expressed disappointment that ACAT was not consulted regarding accessibility content. As none were seen in the presentation, members advised including TTC accessibility items in TTC Shops, such as Wheel-Trans bus, pins, logos, etc.
Members advocated for accessibility being included in the TTC’s 100th anniversary celebrations. A working group is working on a “100 years” of accessibility improvements/stories initiative to promote and celebrate the accessibility accomplishments that have improved TTC transit service. 2022 marks 30 years of ACAT providing accessible transit advice to the TTC. Current and former ACAT members will be invited to contribute to compile this accessibility information.
In the YouTube broadcast of TTC Board meetings the audio announcements have been updated to provide the same information that is written on screen. Before the meeting begins, the audio message replaces the chimes and is repeated approximately every two minutes.
The next CS meeting is on July 6, 2021.
Highlights for next Board meeting
- TTC 100th year celebration
- New Website
Design Review Subcommittee (DRS) – Craig Nicol, DRS Chair
DRS meetings were held on May 5, 2021, May 19, 2021 and June 2, 2021 via Webex.
DRS meeting on May 5, 2021
ActiveTO / Cycling Projects update
Becky Katz, Manager of Cycling and Pedestrian Projects at the City of Toronto presented an update on the ActiveTO Midtown Project. DRS members discussed cycling track on Yonge Street north of Bloor Street. The issue was bus access to the stops when cycle paths are between the bus and the sidewalk. There is only one location to board across the cycle track that’s marked with green paint and signs warn cyclists to stop when the doors are open.
The City will ensure that bus stops can accommodate multiple buses and that buses and Wheel-Trans vehicles have access to the sidewalk. The City is working closely with Wheel-Trans to ensure that accessible loading is prioritized at high volume stops.
Wayfinding guidance path design standards updates
Janusz Sycz, TTC Chief Architect, attended to discuss updates to TTC’s tactile wayfinding guidance path design standards. DRS members found a small working group with TTC staff and architects more productive. Members expect the design staff to come back to the working group with results from that meeting and for further refinements.
DRS meeting on May 19, 2021
Metrolinx and TTC staff attended to discuss the Eglinton Crosstown LRT Operations and review DRS list of questions and Metrolinx responses. Several issues were brought forward to be resolved before the Eglinton Crosstown line goes into operation. Metrolinx was receptive, took several items back and will return to advise or discuss further.
DRS members did not feel Metrolinx had addressed a major concern where stops are placed in the middle of the roadway and is leaving it up to the City of Toronto to handle. DRS is actively pursuing a meeting with Metrolinx, the City of Toronto’s transportation department and TTC staff to ensure and make crossings more safe for people accessing the platform stops located in the centre of the streets.
Highlights for next Board meeting
- ActiveTO / Cycling Projects and transit accessibility
- Platform tactile walking surface design
- Eglinton Crosstown service implementation discussion with Metrolinx
DRS meeting on June 2, 2021
4800 Yonge Street – Sheppard-Yonge development entrance
Russell Fleisher, Architect at Turner Fleisher Architects gave a presentation on the development of an entrance connection at 4800 Yonge Street, the southwest corner of Yonge and Sheppard. The project will remove an existing on street stairwell entrance, provide a new TTC entrance vestibule, elevator with direct connection to Line 4 platform, fare gates at the platform level, and stair access to the Sheppard-Yonge station.
The elevator is not in the TTC vestibule. It is adjacent in the building lobby and can be accessed from a door from the vestibule. The elevator is in direct view of the security staff which provides 24 hours supervision.
DRS members commented on the need for correct elevator floor numbering to match TTC, power door control locations, floor and wall tile contrast including tactile attention indicator tiles.
PRESTO screen update
Dante Vera Cruz, Project Manager for TTC Farecard presented changes that are going to be made to the PRESTO reader screens on the buses, streetcars and fare gates. The proposed changes will make the PRESTO screens on the TTC consistent with those used on the other GTA transit agencies.
DRS members commented that people with vision impairment will not be able to access the changes on the devices, and therefore receive inequitable service. Members advised against the use of all capital letters on screens. It would become a barrier for people with dyslexia and vision impairment. Mixed upper and lower case should be used. People with vision loss and potentially people with cognitive issues would have difficulty memorizing the different rejection tones for example in the case of insufficient funds on their cards.
The next DRS meeting will be on July 14, 2021.
Highlights for next Board meeting
- 4800 Yonge Street – Sheppard-Yonge Development Entrance
- PRESTO Screens Update
Questions and comments from the committee
A member raised concerns on access to the elevators and the doors and whether it was controlled by TTC staff or building staff. Building staff do not always recognize the need for access past regular business hours.
Craig Nicol advised the TTC lobby is open all hours that the subway is open and the building lobby will be open 24 hours.
Service Planning Subcommittee (SPS) – Carmen Galvan, SPS Chair
The SPS meeting was held on June 2, 2021 via Webex.
Crisis Intervention Training
Trevor Timbrell, Fare Inspection Supervisor, Revenue Protection gave a presentation on crisis communication and a breakdown of the hiring and training of officers.
The Special Constable Service section has 100 employees with a manager for each platoon. The Special Constable service’s primary focus is on subway patrol and response to calls for service. The Special Constable Service have the Community Engagement Unit (CEU), whose role is to support the frontline response officers and Station Supervisors, by identifying persons in need of assistance and providing outreach, City support, when requested and/or required. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, CEU provide marginalized/at risk populations with support by triaging the needs, making referrals to shelters and providing general info and social service information.
Mental Health Training
Fare Inspectors and Special Constables receive the same mental health training and crisis intervention communication. Special Constables training program is 12 weeks and includes customer service excellence, serving a diverse community, report writing, defensive tactics and the use of force, Federal and Provincial Statutes such as the Criminal Code and the Mental Health Act, Mental Health Awareness and Crisis intervention, communications skill with a focus on de-escalation techniques and crisis communication to provide positive interaction between officers and the community.
Fare Inspectors training program is six weeks in the same areas with the difference that Special Constables have the ability under the Mental Health Act of Ontario to apprehend someone who may be in a crisis situation, for their safety or the safety of anyone that is around them. Upon completion of the academic and practical skills training program, recruits participate in six months of field training program. They are paired with a coach officer. The coach officer's participate in a three-day course on communication skills. Under this program they are on probation for ten months before being sent on the field.
Officers are taught the first contact approach, which starts with greeting, then identifying yourself and stating the reason for the intervention and giving an opportunity for response with the use of open-ended questions. Officers can also take someone to the hospital and provide other forms of help.
Officers are taught “blocking” in response to remarks that suggest unequal treatment based on race or culture that is comments that allege bias.
Questions and comments from subcommittee
A member inquired on where an apprehended person is taken. Staff advised the person is either taken to a hospital or their personal data is given to the CEU for follow-up.
A member suggested that the use of “blocking” as a crisis communication technique may not be appropriate.
A member asked if training is given on how implicit bias could impact the ways in which enforcement officers are treating racialized people with mental health challenges.
Members inquired on consequences to any of the officers who have mishandled a crisis situation.
Staff advised of the complaint process, the complaints group gives recommendation after interviewing all the parties, and if an officer is found at fault disciplinary action is taken.
Members will review the presentation and provide further feedback and questions to Andrew Dixon, Head of Special Constables. He will review the recommendation on stopping the training of “blocking” techniques.
Automated Vehicle (AV) Transit Shuttle Trial
Sierra Buehler, Senior Planner – System and Policy, gave an update on the “Minding the Gap” project, which is the trial run of an automated transit shuttle. The City of Toronto has a plan to prepare for autonomous vehicles to test the ability of an automated transit shuttle to fill a need in the system, to increase understanding and knowledge of the technical requirements to operate automated vehicles, human response to an automated vehicle and the value of such a vehicle in the network. The presentation described the project timeline, the vehicle that was selected, the accessibility features on the vehicle, the proposed stops and routing, and next steps.
The TTC's involvement in this project aligns with strategic documents such as the 5-Year Corporate Plan and the 5-Year Service Plan. The project timeline started in November 2017. In July 2019, ACAT was consulted and public consultation followed by procurement. COVID-19 significantly impacted the plan and the launch was delayed to 2021. They are working on the route assessment with the vendor and the detailed service planning. The vehicle is expected to arrive Summer 2021 for setup and testing with a Fall 2021 launch of service. The trial will likely end in Spring 2022.
The Local Motors Olli 2.0 was selected and only one vehicle will be leased for six to 12 months. It has the capacity for eight seated customers. The vehicle has a zero emissions electric automated vehicle that will quietly and safely operate at speeds at or below 30 kilometres per hour. Accessibility features include an onboard safety attendant trained to accommodate passengers with disabilities as well as to operate the vehicle in manual mode, if necessary. The vehicle will also be equipped with a ramp. There will be visual and audible stop announcements, interior and exterior screens, and service animals are allowed.
The service will be free and available to all. However, customers transferring to TTC buses or to GO Transit will pay a fare at the time of transfer to those services. The hours of operation include weekday peak periods, subject to change. The schedule is not finalized. Proposed routes will be approximately 30 minutes for a round trip.
Questions and comments from the subcommittee
Members suggested the need for buttons to signal to the driver if a passenger needs assistance or needs the vehicle to stop.
Members suggested that an ACAT member be invited to participate in a training session for the vehicle Operator, similar to ACAT participation in recertification training.
Members commented that the vehicle seemed small. Boarding and alighting while using a mobility device might require all others to exit the vehicle. It was suggested that there needs to be emergency exits through the windows.
A member suggested provision of a video from the vendor be made that will allow members to view how a person in a wheelchair can board the vehicle.
A member suggested that the vehicle seat less people for safety reasons, so that in an emergency situation the driver can have easy access to provide assistance.
ACAT members will be invited to a site visit once the vehicle has arrived.
The next SPS meeting will be on July 14, 2021.
Highlights for next Board meeting
- Crisis Intervention training
- Automated Vehicle (AV) Transit Shuttle Trial
Questions and comments from the committee
A member suggested that ACAT members be invited to train on accessibility awareness issues during crisis intervention training of Constables and transit Operators. In particular, the security people in their various training should get more training on accessibility specific needs, for instance how to lift somebody in or out of a wheelchair if they fall, how to communicate with people who are deaf, how to guide people who are blind, how to handle one being in a panic situation, being assaulted or being injured, because their current training is on preventing or addressing criminal or minor disobedience and not the crisis that people with disabilities might run into.
Members had several comments and concerns on the size of automated vehicle, if a mobility device would fit, launch date and the number of selected stops. Member recalled from past presentation that it was a request for a ride.
Staff advised there are three stops identified in this new route and they are testing in an area with no TTC service. The automated vehicle is very small and is a leased vehicle for this test pilot.
Members commented on a need for a site visit for the Design Review Subcommittee.
Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS) – Sam Savona, WTOS Chair
WTOS meetings were held on May 13, 2021 and June 10, 2021 via Webex. Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager of Customer Service, Wheel-Trans presented this update on behalf of Sam Savona, WTOS Chair.
WTOS Meeting on May 13, 2021
Marco Iorfida, Wheel-Trans Scheduling and Policy Specialist, reported to the committee that he had been working with Angela Marley on her list of revisions and updates that have been provided to the Subcommittee members. They have been able to prioritize the majority of the subway stops allowing them to show up first when searching on the Self-Booking Website.
Loris Dametto, Program Manager – Vehicle Procurement provided an update on this item for the location of call buttons, side ramp deployment indicator and rear ramp slope.
David Lo Presti – Wheel-Trans Manager of Contracted Taxi Services provided an update on three points, Passengers’ Bill of Rights (city’s side and under Wheel-Trans contract version, which are higher than the city’s), vehicle cleanliness, and taxis complaint process.
Dean Milton, Wheel-Trans Manager of Strategic Initiatives reported the Customer Satisfaction Survey which Wheel-Trans embarks on an annual basis will be sent out between May 19 to June 20, 2021.
Dean Milton also provided a brief overview on Family of Service (FOS) including eligibility conditions, booking process, trip scheduling, solution and how solutions are determined. Ross Visconti, Wheel-Trans Project Manager GIRO Project provided answers for any technical questions. Members agreed that another meeting was necessary to continue the discussion around FOS.
The next meeting was scheduled for June 10, 2021.
WTOS Meeting on June 10, 2021
Marco Iorfida, Wheel-Trans Scheduling and Policy Specialist reported that he and the customer service staff have reviewed the list of Wheel-Trans stops at subway stations items in the reports sent by Angela Marley and implemented the improvements on the Self-Booking Website.
Angela Marley reported that she would ensure members get a copy of the report sent to Marco Iorfida. Angela also reported some of the stations do not appear on the site when entered, such as Eglinton West Station or St. Clair West Station. Marco and Angela will report back to the committee in July.
Dean Milton, Wheel-Trans Manager of Strategic Initiatives, provided an update on Family of Services. The presentation covered the following areas:
- Mobility Devices and Mode Exceptions
- Employee Training and Readiness for FOS
- Customer Communication
- FOS Eligibility
- FOS Trip Scheduling
The next meeting is scheduled for July 8, 2021.