Vehicle and Station Design
Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2015 Public Forum regarding Vehicle and Station Design. These suggestions were submitted during the meeting, on comment forms, and in comments to TTC Customer Service. Customer comments are accompanied by a summary of the current status of each issue.
Bus ramp reliability
“You said that the drivers have the ability to manually open the ramps, but that doesn't happen majority of the time. Half the time or maybe even less, the driver will just say that, sorry, the ramp's not working.”
“You indicated the ramps are checked before they go on their route, but I've used the buses a lot of times and the ramps don't work.”
“Sometimes the driver doesn’t want to let down the ramp.”
All ramps are tested every morning before the buses enter service. If a ramp is not working, the bus does not enter service. If a ramp fails to deploy in service, Operators can use an assistive hook that is provided on the bus to help the ramp deploy. The hook is not intended for manual deployment. Rather, it helps break the seal of dirt, snow and sand. Breaking this seal should allow the ramp to work. If the ramp still fails to deploy, it is malfunctioning. The Operator is required to immediately notify a Supervisor of the situation, who will notify the next bus that a customer requiring the ramp is waiting at the stop, and advise the Operator of the time for the next bus to arrive. The Operator will give the customer the estimated wait time for the next bus. The bus with the malfunctioning ramp will be removed from service and replaced at the earliest opportunity.
Automated stop announcement reliability
“When you check for ramp failures before buses leave garages, do you also check stop announcements and signs to make sure that they're also working?”
“Is there a way for bus/streetcar drivers to be automatically notified when stop announcements and/or signs malfunctioning?”
“On buses, improve displays so they don't crash frequently leaving Deaf passengers stranded and unable to know when their stop comes up.”
The automated stop call system is tested before the bus enters service. If it fails, the bus does not enter service. If the system fails in service, the Operator is required to call the stops verbally and the bus is removed and replaced at the first opportunity. Note that the stop announcement system is scheduled for replacement in the coming years as part of the new “Smartbus” CAD/AVL project.
Conventional bus design
“The accessible buses have back doors that require upper body strength to exit. Accessibility doesn’t include only legs.”
“Wheelchair securement devices could be positioned closer to the wheel well of bus so that there is more room to maneuver. Lowering securement devices may also help as scooters are longer than before.”
“I am legally blind as well as in a power wheelchair. I cannot see the small number above the front doors. Why are buses not marked like the streetcars with large numbers on side of vehicle?”
Customers do not need to push rear bus doors fully open. Rather, a slight push or pull on the yellow bars will activate the door opening system and the doors will automatically open fully on their own.
The space allocation for wheelchairs and scooters in the design of TTC buses is a result of Provincial and Federal legislation related to accessibility. All TTC buses are compliant with this legislation. It should be noted that these regulations are based on wheelchair dimensions and manoeuvrability, not scooters that vary in dimensions, shape and turn radius. Mobility device securement hardware is designed and positioned in our buses to maximize the use of available space for onboard parking. We do note that it is possible for the Operator or a companion to rotate the securement belt retractors to provide more room to maneuver into the mobility device positions. TTC will continue to discuss this matter with the bus manufacturers to further improve accessibility.
In 2016, we are looking at updating the look of our buses to a similar look to the new accessible streetcars. We will consider the size of bus fleet numbers when we are looking at the new design options.
Conventional bus stops
“At Bingham Loop, the streetcar and bus stop for the Coxwell bus is not accessible. Is there any way that can be fixed?”
"Is there a temporary way to make the bus platform at Warden Station accessible so we don’t have to wait 10 years until everything is accessible?”
Response: Bingham Loop is not currently designated as accessible given the narrow width between the shelter columns and the edge of the platform. However, we expect to complete work by 2017 to widen the platform to ensure safety for customers using mobility devices. The stops at Bingham Loop will be designated as accessible when this work is completed.
In September 2015, two new bus stops were installed outside Warden Station. Customers can now transfer between routes 9, 16, 17, 68, 69, 102, 135 at the bus stop on the southeast corner of Warden Avenue and St Clair Avenue East. Customers transferring to/from 70 O’Connor can use the bus stop on the northwest corner of the intersection. Note that depending on the route, customers may need to remain on the bus through Warden Station before exiting the bus at these stops.
“(High Floor) streetcar accessibility seats are poorly located. They should be the single row behind drivers. Drivers should remind passengers to vacate accessibility seats for accessibility passengers.”
“Streetcar ramp is too steep.”
“Are all streetcars now wheelchair accessible?”
“The button on the lower part of the second door on the new streetcars that lets the driver know to put ramp out. How can a person reach the button if they are unable to reach?”
Each of the TTC’s high-floor streetcars has three priority seats for ambulatory customers with disabilities, seniors, and pregnant women. These are the three seats closest to the front door and are marked with a prominent “Priority Seating” decal and blue seat fabric. Three priority seats on each vehicle was determined to be sufficient to accommodate customers who are truly in need of a seat, and also accommodate other customers who would like a seat for their transit trip. This is consistent with our fleet of buses, all of which provide three priority seats for this customer group. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate the request to increase the number of priority seats on these vehicles.
The TTC’s high-floor streetcars will gradually be replaced with our new low-floor accessible streetcars, which will operate on all streetcar routes by 2019. The low-floor streetcars have more seats than the current high-floor vehicles and are designed for use with all-door boarding, therefore, the low-floor streetcars have priority seating at each door so that no matter where you board, you will always be close to a priority seat.
The slope of the ramp on the new low-floor streetcars is the best possible under the circumstances and is within accessibility standards for ramps on transit vehicles. Operator assistance up and down the ramp is available for manual wheelchair users.
The streetcar Operator is responsible for ensuring that all customers boarding or alighting have safely done so. The low-floor streetcar is equipped with several cameras on the outside of the vehicle which the Operator can use to identify any customers intending to use the ramp, even if the ramp button has not been pressed. When exiting, ramp buttons are located at the mobility device seating areas, or at the accessible door.
Mobility device securement
“New streetcars need to have tie downs. Rocket trains are missing tie downs.”
“There are no tie downs on streetcars or trains.”
TTC, based on advice from ACAT, have determined that securement devices are not appropriate for rail vehicles (subway and streetcars), given the different operating characteristics as compared to buses.
Subway train design
“You need to put TTC emergency subway "fire/harassment/etc/stop the train" buttons much lower to the ground.”
Lower emergency alarms are now standard on all new TTC subway and streetcar vehicles. These are located at the mobility device seating areas.
Subway station elevator design/maintenance
“Elevators need ventilation fans installed.”
“Improve elevator cleaning.”
“I wonder too if there could be some kind of elevator cleaning schedule or sign off so that we know the elevators actually do get cleaned, because they don't look that way. They don't smell that way sometimes.”
Fans are provided in elevators, however, these are quiet not meant to be heard. Currently, TTC elevators are cleaned on a structured basis which varies on a station-by-station basis. Some elevators will be cleaned during the day, others during the night, with random checks for trash, spillage, graffiti, etc. during the day. Going forward, a new process is under development which will see Station Supervisors conducting inspections throughout every subway station twice daily. All elevators will be included in these inspections. This new process will ensure that any cleanliness issues are brought to the attention of maintenance staff in a more timely manner.
Subway station design
“Design accessibility services/features that work equally well for non-wheelchair using passengers (e.g., don't locate ramps away from natural traffic flows; design ramps to minimize the number of steps required).”
“Return the walkway at Spadina Station between the subway lines. It’s very hard to walk the entire walkway.”
When designing accessible routes and their associated features, TTC strives to ensure that a safe, seamless and comfortable customer experience is upheld. Limitations in existing site conditions such as utilities, or structural elements are sometimes encountered, which would inhibit a preferred placement of accessibility elements.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to continue to maintain the moving walkway between the subway lines at Spadina Station. The walkway machinery had reached the end of its useful life and walkways of that length were no longer manufactured. As a result, the TTC Board approved the walkway removal in 2004. Acting on ACAT advice, TTC added benches in the middle of the corridor between the two subway lines in 2013, so that customers with limited stamina could pause along the way, if needed.
Boarding subway trains
“Subway platforms/height difference between train and platforms.”
“Problem at Queen Station northbound with entering train due to vertical gap.”
“Did TTC fix the problem of new trains not being level with platforms?”
“Subway platforms at Union Station need attention, height to train flooring excessive & gap between train and platform.”
“On your University‑Spadina line with your new trains, the Toronto Rockets, the guard car is the very last car, and there might be some sort of safety concern here is if the guard is in the very back car. How is he going to see somebody trying to get on at the DWA with all the other people in the way?”
In 2015, TTC staff working with ACAT members to designed, tested, and implemented an improved platform edge at Eglinton Station in the vicinity of the elevator to reduce the “vertical gap” space at this station and improve safety for all customers. Staff are now reviewing to see which other stations can benefit from similar improvements to reduce vertical gap heights. Staff are also reviewing means to ease boarding for customers using mobility devices across the “horizontal gap”, or the space between trains and platforms; however, this is challenging given that a minimum of 3 inches of clear space must remain between trains and subway platforms to accommodate the side-to-side sway of trains as they pass through stations.
The Designated Waiting Area (DWA) is equipped with benches, bright lights, and a Passenger Assistance Intercom, and provides a safe place to wait for trains. TTC Operators are trained not to close the doors until all customers are safely onboard the train. Trains cannot leave the station if doors are not fully closed. TTC plans to further improve the boarding process in the future through the installation of cameras on each platform which will provide the train crew with an improved view of customers boarding and alighting along the entire platform.
“Islington Station has two operational escalators; however both operate in one direction only (going up). Because of this, even though I live very close to the Islington station, I am unable to access it, being a person with limited mobility. Please look into the possibility of reversing the direction of one of the escalators so that both the "up" and "down" trips can be accommodated.”
Response:Unfortunately, this direction change is not possible to implement because there are steps in the tunnel that connects the escalator on the east side of Islington Avenue to the station concourse. This means that if one of the escalators was reversed, customers going either up or down would still need to use stairs in addition to the escalator. Proceeding with this suggested change may actually make it harder for some customers to access the station. The escalators between concourse and subway platform level do operate in both directions.
Wheel-Trans vehicle design
“Buses bounce around which is uncomfortable. More suspension for the accessible buses so that the bumps in the road are not so punishing.”
Thank you for your comments. We will review these issues during our next round of bus purchasing.
Contracted Wheel-Trans accessible taxi design
“More supportive seating should be standard in Wheel-Trans vans. There is no consistency in approved vehicles; this impacts on board safety.”
“Back seats on TTC vans like a bench - can't get back to the support or feet to the floor this is unsafe. Why is there not a standard on the back seats of vans contracted to Wheel-Trans? Many are just like a rough ride in a police car!”
“Wheel-Trans taxis should have doors wide enough for those of us with slightly wider wheelchairs.”
Thank you for your comment. We will review these issues. The standard ramp based on the Canadian Standards Association D409 Standard and is 30 inches wide.
TTC Handbook for Accessible Travel
Learn how to travel safely and independently on Toronto’s transit system. Download the TTC Handbook for Accessible Travel
Support Person Assistance Card
Learn about the support person assistance card.
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