ACAT Meeting - July 29, 2021


Meeting Info

Date:Thursday, July 29, 2021
Start Time:1:00 p.m.
Location:Virtual meeting via Webex
Meeting No:368
  • 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
    a. TTC Board Meeting and accessibility matters
    b. ACAT Executive Quarterly Meeting with TTC CEO and TTC Chair: Nil
  6. Review and Approval of June 24, 2021 Minutes
  7. Outstanding Items
  8. Deputation: Nil
  9. Review of correspondence: Nil
  10. COVID-19 updates: Nil
  11. West Rouge Automated Shuttle update
  12. ACAT Recruitment update
  13. Wheel-Trans Transformation updates
  14. Subcommittee reports, highlights and updates
    - Communications
    - Design Review
    - Service Planning
    - Wheel-Trans Operations
  15. Other / New Business
  16. Next Meeting – August 26, 2021
  17. Adjournment

Present

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

ACAT Pool Members

  • Howard Wax
  • John Rae
  • Kim Pearson

Regrets

  • Sam Savona

TTC Representatives

  • Jim Ross, Chief Operating Officer
  • Chrisanne Finnerty, Director of Commission Services
  • Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans
  • Stephan Boston, Chief Instructor, Occupational Training Centre
  • John Boucher, Manager – Lakeshore Garage, Wheel-Trans
  • Dean Milton, Manager – Strategic Initiatives, Wheel-Trans
  • David Lo Presti, Manager – Contracted Taxi Services, Wheel-Trans
  • Cameron Penman, Manager of Customer Service, Wheel-Trans
  • Sierra Buehler, Senior Planner, Systems and Policy, Strategy and Foresight team
  • Michelle Edwards, Engineering Technologist, Vehicle Programs
  • Matt Hagg, Senior Planner – System Accessibility
  • Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager – Customer Service,Wheel-Trans
  • Eddy Ionescu, System and Policy Planner, Strategy and Foresight Team
  • Maria Luisa Vitti, Human Rights Consultant, Huma Rights Investigation Consultant
  • Victoria Kolakowski, Travel Specialist, Wheel-Trans Travel Training Program
  • Brittany Manu, Anti-Racism Policy Consultant, Diversity
  • Mohammed Shaikh, Assistant Manager, Wheel-Trans 

Invited Guests

  • Jennifer Niece, Senior Project Manager, City of Toronto

1. Call to Order / Attendance

ACAT Chair Igor Samardzic called the meeting to order at 1:05 p.m. and attendance was taken.

2. Land Acknowledgement

The land acknowledgement was read by ACAT Chair Igor Samardzic.

3. Declaration of Conflict of Interest

Nil.

4. Approval of Agenda

On a motion by Lauri Sue Robertson, seconded by Angela Marley, the agenda was approved.

5. Remarks from ACAT Chair

ACAT Chair Igor Samardzic reminded participants that the meeting was open to the public both visually and audibly. The close captioning link and Webex link were posted on the TTC website. Members of the public were to mute their sound and turn off their camera during the meeting.

Virtual meetings will continue into the near future until further direction is provided from staff.

ACAT Chair spoke on behalf of members wishing member Sam Savona a speedy recovery and greatly miss his presence, wit, humour and insight on accessibility matters.

ACAT Chair congratulated Lauri Sue Robertson for being elected into the role of Subcommittee Chair of Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee, thanking her for stepping up to take the role and expressing his confidence in her ability to do a great job pending the return of Sam Savona.

a. TTC Board Meeting and accessibility matters

ACAT Chair discussed at the July 7, 2021 TTC Board meeting ACATs’ preparation for recruitment of new members in September, new station elevators recently brought into service, TTC safety campaign for Wheel-Trans Vehicles and Cyclists, the awarding of Easier Access contracts for Summerhill, Rosedale and Castle Frank Stations and property acquisitions. The next Board meeting is on September 15, 2021.

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

Nil.

6. Review and Approval of June 24, 2021 Minutes

On a motion by Margo Brodie, seconded by Carmen Galvan, the June 24, 2021 minutes were approved with no amendments.

7. Outstanding Items

ACAT Terms of Reference – Ongoing.

The ACAT Terms of Reference is currently with the ACAT Executive who have a meeting with Staff scheduled for August 5th to discuss the terms of reference. Upon that meeting the terms of reference will be shared with all ACAT members to share feedback and then vital conversations around that will take place before approval by ACAT and the TTC Board.

8. Deputation

Nil.

9. Review of Correspondence

Nil.

10. COVID-19 Updates

Nil.

11. West Rouge Automated Shuttle update

Sierra Buehler, Senior Planner - Systems and Policy, provided the update on the Minding the Gap Project to trial an automated transit shuttle with Eddy Ionescu, System Planner and Jennifer Niece, Senior Project Manager, Transportation Services at the City of Toronto.

The City of Toronto has developed a tactical plan to prepare for autonomous vehicles. In 2019, the City approved the recommendation to implement and operate an automated shuttle trial serving the Rouge Hill GO Transit Station in partnership with TTC and Metrolinx and to enter into agreements with third party private vendors that may be required.

The trial will test the ability of an automated transit shuttle to fill an existing unmet need in the transit system. The objective of the project is to increase understanding and knowledge of technical requirements to operate an automated shuttle, the administrative requirements to deliver service, the interaction of an automated shuttle in the transit and transportation system, the human response to an automated shuttle, and the value of an automated shuttle service in the transit and transportation system. The project will allow partners to build capacity and learning of this technology and these types of vehicles. Other objectives include increased public support for the use of innovation in the public transit system, develop a plan to increase the attractiveness of Toronto for investment in the development and export of automated transit vehicle technology, and provide leadership in automated vehicle preparedness at the municipal level through transfer knowledge and exchange.

The project aligns with the TTC's Five-Year Corporate Plan and 5-Year Service Plan. The service design principles include Safety; the service is designed to be operated without harm. Accessible; all people that wish to use the service can do so without limitation. Service oriented; the service is reliable and affordable and provides a travel option for residents and visitors. Learning; the project is designed to allow for in course adjustments based on observed results, for example how the technology performs in winter and community feedback. Low impact; the service is quiet, low emissions, and well-integrated into the neighborhood.

The original project timeline started in November 2017 with the grant submission to Transport Canada. In July 2019, ACAT Service Planning Subcommittee was consulted and public consultation followed in Fall 2019. ACAT Service Planning Subcommittee was consulted again in July 2021. Unfortunately, COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the project schedule and launch date of 2020 was delayed to 2021. The team expects the trial vehicle to arrive in September 2021 for testing, launch for service in Fall 2021 and the trial will likely end in Spring 2022 with a final report.

The vehicle that was selected was Local Motors Olli 2.0. It has a capacity for 8 seated customers, which may be reduced upon Toronto Public Health advice. The vehicle is a zero-emissions, electric automated vehicle that safely operates at low speeds below 20 km per hour. At this time, only one vehicle is leased and the service will comply with TTC Accessible Customer Service policy, Metrolinx Accessibility policy and AODA.

A few accessibility features include an onboard safety attendant who will take control of the vehicle if needed. The safety attendant will be trained to accommodate passengers with a disability. The vehicle is equipped with a manual ramp, onboard mobility device securement (mandatory), seat belts (mandatory), audio and visual pre-boarding and stop announcements, interior and exterior screens and speakers for announcements, and service animals will be allowed on board. All stops will comply with TTC Accessibility Standards and will be at the curb height, reducing the angle of the ramp. 

Customers travelling in a mobility device are recommended to travel alone or without a support person due to the limited space on the vehicle. The shuttle can operate in different weather conditions including some snow conditions. However, it has limitations operating in heavy rain, fog, or on icy roads.

The potential routes and time schedules are being worked out for the Rouge Hill area along Lawrence Avenue East. The service will be free however, customers that transfer to TTC or GO Transit will pay a fare at the time of transfer. The City will add stop pads, stop poles, and improve the pedestrian connection at Rouge Hills Drive and Lawrence Avenue East including sight lines on the street and adding tactile surface indicators at the corners.

Communication will be sent to residents in the neighbourhood in August. There will be a virtual public meeting and information provided through social media across the GTA. Information will advise of the upcoming service, how to book and more. The team expects ridership will be a combination of people in the community and people interested in automated vehicles.

The next steps include ensuring accessibility requirements are met, ACAT involvement in the training of the safety attendant and supervisor, accessibility testing of the potential advanced booking platform and an ACAT site visit prior to the planned launch. Information will be on the City’s website with links from GO Transit, Metrolinx and TTC website.

Questions and comments from the committee

A member suggested a review of the policy on mandatory seating to avoid potential human rights violation issues.

Staff agreed to take this back for review.

A member suggested advance booking be used to track users who are allergic to service animals.

A member inquired for visually impaired customers if the vehicle was completely silent and if it was, how they would know when it has arrived at a stop.

Staff advised that there will be a safety attendant on board at all times and they have a dual purpose of providing backup for the automated driving function and providing a customer service function. If there is an individual waiting at the stop when the doors open and they don't board, the safety attendant would be expected to exit the vehicle and communicate with that individual to confirm whether or not they had intended to board and make sure they are able to find the boarding location appropriately.

A member inquired if there are assigned seating for customers with service animals.

Staff advised the seating is surrounding the perimeter of the vehicle (bench seating) and every seat is equally accommodating of a guide dog. There is no assigned seating.

A member inquired on the height of the step between the vehicle and road/curb (without the ramp).

Staff will take this back and provide feedback.

A member suggested armrests be added in the vehicle as their absence is a barrier and potential hazard for users. Members also suggested review of the color contrast in the vehicle by increasing it.

Staff will take the feedback for review.

Members suggested that all newsletters be equally sent out in email format to make them accessible.

Staff confirmed this will be done.

12. ACAT Recruitment update

Lodon Hassan, Assistant Manager of Wheel-Trans Customer Service provided an update to this item. ACAT recruitment content and application will be available online as a part of the virtual recruitment process. Applications will be accepted from September 7 to 21, 2021. The interview panel will review the applications received and create a short list of those they want to interview. The interview panel consists of two Staff Liaisons, a Human Rights consultant from the City of Toronto, and the ACAT Chair. Heather Brown, Manager of Customer Communications will be drafting an email and flyer for all ACAT members to share with their network to encourage application from a Toronto citizen who they think is a good fit.

Questions and comments from the committee

A member suggested that it be communicated to applicants that accommodations are available to enable applications in an accessible format including videos, word and fillable PDFs.

13. Wheel-Trans Transformation updates

Dwayne Geddes, Head of Wheel-Trans provided an update to this item. Progress is being made with the mobile app pilot and the 7m ProMaster Vehicle. Wheel-Trans team encourage the use of Family of Services program and are receptive to feedback and concerns any members may have as a way to improve services.

The Welcome Back program is in progress as the TTC expects customers resuming public transit usage as a result of the vaccination rates increasing and COVID-19 rates decreasing. Wheel-Trans expects the return of ride sharing at the end of August. Customers will be required to wear a mask. Travel training has resumed and there will be one-on-one training on riding the conventional system.

14. Subcommittee reports, highlights and updates

Communications Subcommittee (CS) – Angela Marley, CS Chair

A CS meeting was held on July 6, 2021 via Webex.

The TTC has entered into a partnership with Magnusmode to produce digital card decks to help customers with cognitive disabilities use the TTC. Nadia Hamilton, Founder and President of Magnusmode outlined how Magnusmode supports people with autism or other cognitive disabilities by digitizing step-by-step guides for various
activities, examples: how to plan a trip, ride a bus, engage in personal care.

Magnusmode has a free app with audio, visual and text and is downloadable (offline
access) only on a device, not a computer. Magnusmode will work closely with their behavioural analyst and TTC to ensure the cards capture as much detail of each activity via a task analysis. The company is working on a more accessible version that can be accessed by a screen reader, a website equivalent with additional tools for caregivers and a feature that allows customers to customize the information via the user dashboard.

Working with Customer Communications, the TTC’s version of this product will incorporate information from travel training guides and the website, starting with 5 card decks (10 steps in each card deck).

Changes to TTY in Customer Information

Shannel Campbell and Deon Wilmot, Supervisors in Customer Information, presented the TTC changing the telecommunications relay system from TTY to voice relay service.

Current TTY device limits the number of customers TTC staff can assist as it can only be done with those customers who have the physical device and can only be done within the TTC Customer Service Centre.

TTC is switching to the telecommunication relay system, an operator service that enables people who are deaf, hard of hearing or experience difficulty with speech to place calls to a standard telephone from a keyboard or an assistive device. For a relay service, three people are involved, the customer, the relay operator or communication assistant and the third party, which would be the TTC.

To use the Relay System the customer will dial the universal phone number, 1-800-855-0511. An operator from the telecommunications company (Rogers, Telus, Bell, Virgin, etc.) will respond, dial the phone number given by the customer and advise the connection is in progress. The operator will advise when the person on the other side of the line answers the phone call, which would be a TTC representative. The TTC representative will be able to answer the call as they would answer any question a customer may have. The relay service agent will type the responses and the customer will receive the responses in the form they called by, whether that’s through the Internet or a physical TTY device, etc.

This change in Customer Information with FAQs will be posted on TTC website, www.ttc.ca.

ACAT information on the website has been updated.

The next CS meeting is scheduled for August 5, 2021.

Highlights for the next Board meeting are:

  • ACAT recruitment
  • Magnusmode
  • Changes to TTY in Customer Communication

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

A DRS meeting was held on July 14, 2021 via Webex.

Durham / Scarborough BRT

David Hopper, Consultant Project Manager from Parsons gave a presentation for the Durham Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project with the preliminary design for the part of the project that is located within the City of Toronto. The BRT line will connect to the Scarborough Town Centre station, extend to Oshawa and in Toronto run along Ellesmere sharing 14 stops with TTC. TTC will share some mid road stops and will also stop curbside in the shared area. The height of the platforms would be at a standard curb height and buses will be able to deploy ramps to the platforms.

Questions and comments from the subcommittee

  • Members questioned how PRESTO fare collection will work with TTC on board and BRT platform collection at the same stop.
  • Members noted a need for a special announcement when TTC or BRT vehicles change between curbside and mid road platform stops.
  • For associated multi use paths members emphasized the need for tactile delineation between pedestrian and cycle areas.

Hybrid Bus RFP - ACAT Participation

In a new initiative TTC will involve ACAT in a review of Hybrid Bus RFP Presentations, in this light a request for ACAT volunteer evaluators was put forward.

Questions and comments from the subcommittee

  • Members made several suggestions about space requirements for diverse mobility aids suggesting a possible future meeting to review space requirement data.

Other Items / New Business

Following up on the June 2 meeting, members suggested the Yonge Street doors leading to the new entrance to Sheppard-Yonge subway station at 4800 Yonge Street be motion sensor sliding doors instead of button initiated doors. Staff will pass this recommendation on.

The next DRS meeting is scheduled for August 4, 2021.

Highlights for the next Board meeting are:

  • Durham / Scarborough BRT
  • Hybrid Bus RFP - ACAT Participation

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

A SPS meeting was held on July 14, 2021 via Webex.

2022 Annual Service Plan – Consultation #1

SPS had a presentation on TTC’s 2022 Annual Service Plan (ASP). It included a summary of the 5-Year Service Plan and updates on the 2021 service initiatives. The 5-Year Service Plan remains relatively the same but the pandemic has meant that some focus has been shifted towards things that may seem more relevant given the unique COVID-19 circumstances.

The overall plan included 20 action items that TTC has been aiming to complete between 2020 and 2024.

For 2022:

  1. Network optimization based on highest ridership needs
  2. Line 5 – Bus routes will be changed so duplication
  3. Routing changes to help customer recover post-pandemic

TTC plans to accommodate more customers per vehicle towards the end of the year and in 2022.

The next steps include another virtual stakeholder meeting that will be held in late August 2021. A follow-up meeting will take place with ACAT members at the start of November.

Other Items / New Business

It was suggested that ACAT be consulted on the designs, lighting specifications and shelter maps. TTC staff will request that the City consult with ACAT on those requirements at the appropriate time for the next iteration of the City’s street furniture contract.

The next SPS meeting is scheduled for August 4, 2021.

Wheel-Trans Operations Subcommittee (WTOS) – Lauri Sue Robertson, WTOS Chair

A WTOS meeting was held on July 8, 2021 via Webex.

An appointment was made for an interim chair and unanimously the members voted for Lauri Sue Robertson.

Marco Iorfida, Scheduling and Policy Specialist provided an update on Wheel-Trans stops and landmarks. Keele Station is the newest accessible station with the elevators open to the public as of July 12, 2021. It will be added to the Self-Booking Website with the accessible Wheel-Trans sign on the north side of the platform. The rest of the station descriptions have been reviewed for accuracy. It is vital for no show boards to be located at the Wheel-Trans stops with clear information for customers. Angela Marley will send station descriptions to members for input and advised Warden and Eglinton Stations will be left to the end.

Victoria Kolakowski was introduced as the new Travel Training Specialist. Travel training will resume shortly and she has asked members to contact her to provide feedback or volunteer for training on the routes.

Dean Milton, Manager of Strategic Initiatives, provided an update on Family of Services with a history of the program. He emphasized that consultation has always been an objective, discussed criteria for designations and reiterated that trips are scheduled based on the profile of users and they are not going to send customers where they cannot get on or off. He stated that 74 bus and streetcar lines have 550 transfer stops.

Staff reminded members that if they need to switch their trip method, they need to cancel the current one because the system does not permit two trips. A member suggested the system allow for a search an alternative trip before cancelling the first one and staff should retain data.

Ross Visconti, GIRO Project Manager provided an update on the timelines for the Self-Booking Website improvements including the ability to choose which building entrance and the “where is my ride” feature on the app. It is expected the app will reduce the number of no-shows and increase the ability to locate customers who are waiting.

Other Items / New Business

Some vehicles were not complying with heat and air conditioning rules. Drivers are aware they are to put their vehicle out of service if they do not have heat in cold weather or air conditioning in hot weather. Staff agreed these vehicles should be taken out and the dispatchers are trained on the importance of the heat and air conditioning must be in good working order.

The next WTOS meeting is scheduled for August 12, 2021.

15. Other / New Business

Nil.

16. Next meeting

The next ACAT General meeting will be held on August 26, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. via Webex.

17. Adjournment

On a motion by Sean Hollingsworth, the meeting was adjourned at 3:05 p.m.

Boma Enwesi
Recording Secretary

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