Earlier TTC accessibility planning documents, such as Choices for the Future (1989) and the first Accessible Transit Services Plan (1997) have laid the groundwork for today’s accessible TTC network. These plans formalized the “Easier Access” program for improving the accessibility of the TTC, including designating key subway stations and bus routes for accessibility improvements.

Today, the TTC is committed to expanding on the framework started under these plans by creating an accessible public transit system for all TTC customers. All TTC customers benefit from the accessibility features being implemented on conventional services, including accessible low-floor vehicles, elevators, escalators, automatic accessible doors, and improved customer information systems. However, for many seniors, people with disabilities, and others who have limited agility, strength, and balance, these features are essential. Therefore, while planning for improved accessibility naturally focuses on overcoming impediments to travel by people with disabilities and seniors, all TTC customers will benefit from improved system accessibility.

The TTC’s commitment to accessibility planning and barrier removal has driven transit accessibility improvements for many years. The TTC’s accessibility planning activities are also guided by Provincial accessibility legislation, municipal policies, and the changing demographics of the City of Toronto.

Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2001 (ODA)

The Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) has required all public transit systems to produce an annual accessibility plan with details on ongoing accessibility barrier removal activities since 2003. TTC has gone beyond these requirements and has annually produced a multi-year accessibility plan, reflecting the TTC’s long-term commitment to accessibility improvements.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted in 2005 with the purpose of “developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises on or before January 1, 2025.”

As of 2013, AODA standards have been implemented in the areas of customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation, and public spaces. These standards will directly affect the TTC delivery of accessible services, including operating costs and the timing and priority of implementation of TTC initiatives.

Accessibility Standard for Customer Service

The AODA Accessibility Standard for Customer Service requires all organizations in Ontario to create accessible customer service policies, train staff on these policies, and document and report these activities. The TTC has complied with these requirements since they came into effect in 2010.

The TTC’s commitment to accessible customer service is detailed in its Accessible Customer Service Policy Statement. This document details the TTC’s policies, practices and procedures regarding communications, feedback, service animals, support persons, training and other areas of accessible customer service.

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR)

The AODA Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation contains requirements for transportation, information and communications, employment, and design of public spaces. The IASR came into effect in 2011, with implementation phased in over the next several years. The TTC already complies with most of the IASR requirements and will comply with the remainder of the requirements on or before their legislated implementation dates, as detailed in Appendix 1. The IASR also requires the TTC to produce a multi-year accessibility plan with annual status report updates.

Ontario Building Code (OBC)

Updated accessibility requirements for buildings have been incorporated into a revised version of the Ontario Building Code (OBC) and will take effect in 2015. Future construction of TTC stations starting in 2015, including subway extensions, will need to meet the higher level of accessibility that the revised OBC mandates.

Toronto Seniors Strategy

In May 2013, Toronto City Council adopted the Toronto Seniors Strategy, a multi-year plan that aims to build and sustain “an accessible, equitable and just society for all” by implementing a set of recommendations and related actions to address the diverse needs of older adults. Recommendation 18 of the Seniors Strategy commits the city to “improve the accessibility of the public transportation network.” As part of this recommendation, the TTC will:

  • improve the priority seating system;
  • introduce new accessible streetcars;
  • upgrade the PA system in subway stations;
  • increase the awareness of the elevator status LIFT line;
  • post elevator/escalator outage notices at station entrances; and
  • work with the City to increase the number of accessible bus stops.

This accessibility plan sets objectives for achieving all of these improvements over the next five years. City staff will report on the progress of these actions to City Council starting in 2015.

TTC Corporate Policy

In 2013, the TTC launched its inaugural Corporate Plan, with seven core strategies designed to realize the TTC’s vision of a transit system that makes Toronto proud.

Critical to the Corporate Plan is core strategy #5, which commits to expanding the system to meet future demand, and increasing the number of stations with elevators and barrier-free access to the TTC.

The TTC has also introduced an annual Customer Charter, which is an evolving document that sets targets for achieving customer-oriented goals of the Corporate Plan. The Customer Charter sets out specific goals and commitments for five key areas, including “Accessible and Modern”. These goals and commitments have influenced TTC accessibility policy and, where applicable, are incorporated into this plan.

Demographics

The demographics of the City of Toronto are changing. As described below, the numbers of seniors and people with disabilities are increasing, which is expected to result in increased demand on TTC accessible services in the coming years.

Seniors and People with Disabilities in Toronto

In 2005, the Canadian Community Health Survey reported that 24.3% of Torontonians identified themselves as having a disability, which is an increase from 18.6% of Torontonians in 2001.

The population of seniors is also increasing: as shown in Figure 1, it is expected that the percentage of seniors over age 65 will dramatically increase by 2036, as compared to 2012.

Figure 1: Population of Toronto, Percentage Increase by Age Group

 Population of Toronto percentage increase by age group, 2012 and 2036 (projected); ages 0 to 4, year 2012 approximately 145000, year 2036 increase of 14.5%; ages 5 to 9, year 2012 approximately 135000, year 2036 increase of 19.8%; ages 10 to 14, year 2012 approximately 130000, year 2036 increase of 20.6%; ages 15 to 19, year 2012 approximately 155000, year 2036 increase of 9.2%; ages 20 to 24, year 2012 approximately 205000, year 2036 increase of 5.1%; ages 25 to 29, year 2012 approximately 235000, year 2036 increase of 4%; ages 30 to 34, year 2012 approximately 235000, year 2036 increase of 7.4%; ages 35 to 39, year 2012 approximately 215000, year 2036 increase of 13.9%; ages 40 to 44, year 2012 approximately 220000, year 2036 increase of 14.5%; ages 45 to 49, year 2012 approximately 222000, year 2036 increase of 9.8%; ages 50 to 54, year 2012 approximately 195000, year 2036 increase of 13.5%; ages 55 to 59, year 2012 approximately 170000, year 2036 increase of 18.4%; ages 60 to 64, year 2012 approximately 140000, year 2036 increase of 30.7%; ages 65 to 69, year 2012 approximately 115000, year 2036 increase of 63.4%; ages 70 to 74, year 2012 approximately 80000, year 2036 increase of 107.7%; ages 75 to 79, year 2012 approximately 75000, year 2036 increase of 99.4%; ages 80 to 84, year 2012 approximately 65000, year 2036 increase of 81.6%; ages 85 to 89, year 2012 approximately 40000, year 2036 increase of 84.8%; ages 90 plus, year 2012 approximately 20000, year 2036 increase of 133.5%;

Source: Ontario Population Projections Update, 2012–2036

Overall, 21.4% of Toronto’s population will be comprised of seniors, up from 14% in 2012. Seniors as an age group also disproportionally have disabilities, as shown in Figure 2. As the population ages, it is expected that the number of people with disabilities will continue to rise. 

Figure 2: Percentage of Canadian Population with Disabilities by Age Group

Percentage of Canadian population with disabilities by age group; ages 0 to 14, approximately 4%; ages 15 to 24, approximately 5%; ages 25 to 44, approximately 8%; ages 45 to 64, approximately 18%; ages 65 to 74, approximately 33%; ages 75+, approximately 57%; all ages approximately 15%;

Source: CUTA "Value Case for Accessible Transit in Canada, 2013 p.4", Federal Disability Report by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2011 p.13

Many seniors with disabilities, especially those that can no longer drive, rely on accessible transit services. Overall, the projected increase in seniors and people with disabilities is expected to result in increased demand for the TTC’s accessible conventional and Wheel-Trans services.

Projected Wheel-Trans Registrants

In order to forecast Wheel-Trans demand, Toronto population projections and census data are reviewed annually. In 2013, Wheel-Trans provided door-to-door service for 31,200 active registrants who have limited physical mobility. As shown in Figure 3, this is forecast to increase to 46,400 by 2018, based on historical data and by matching the effect of an increase in population by age group against an increase in active registrants.

Figure 3: Wheel Trans Active and Projected Registrants, 2009 to 2018

Wheel-Trans Active Registrants; actual and projected, 2009 to 2018: 2009 actual: 36000, 2010 actual: 42000, 2011 actual: 42000, 2012 actual: 31000, 2013 actual: 32000. 2014 projected: 37000, 2015  projected: 38000, 2016 projected: 42000, 2017 projected: 43000, 2018 projected: 47000;

The projected average number of trips per registrant for years 2014-2018 is based on historical data trends from the past five years. Wheel-Trans ridership in 2013 was 2.83 million trips. By 2018, it is projected that Wheel-Trans will provide 3.82 million trips per year, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Wheel-Trans Actual and Projected Demand, 2009 to 2018

Wheel-Trans Actual and Projected Demand; 2009 to 2018 (in millions): 2009 actual: 2.4, 2010 actual: 2.7, 2011 actual: 2.8, 2012 actual: 2.9, 2013 actual: 2.8, 2014 projected: 3.1, 2015 projected: 3.3, 2016 projected: 3.4, 2017 projected: 3.6, 2018 projected: 3.8

One factor which influences the development of the Wheel-Trans demand forecast is the continuing accessibility improvements to the TTC’s conventional services. While it is expected that demand for Wheel-Trans door-to-door service will continue to grow over the next five years, it is anticipated that improving the accessibility of conventional services will moderate this increase in demand by making it more-practical for some Wheel Trans registrants to travel on the fixed-route system. While improving the accessibility of fixed-route services will never eliminate the need for all door-to-door services, this improved accessibility will increase the use of the conventional system by seniors and people with disabilities, and provide the additional benefits of spontaneous trip-making and more-flexible travel options.

The increased use of the conventional system by customers who are eligible for Wheel-Trans will also have a financial benefit by mitigating the amount of Wheel-Trans subsidy increase that would otherwise be required on an annual basis. This is significant because each ride taken on Wheel-Trans currently requires $34.71 in subsidy vs. $0.79 in subsidy for each ride taken on the conventional system (2014 TTC and Wheel-Trans Operating Budget).

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