Several new accessibility projects were underway in 2016 beyond those originally included in the 2014-2018 Accessibility Plan. These include:

“Platform Gap” Improvements    

In response to ACAT advice and customer feedback from the 2014 Public Forum on Accessible Transit, TTC staff designed, tested, and implemented improvements to the subway platform at Eglinton Station, to make it easier for customers using mobility devices to board subway trains at this location. In mid-2015 the platform edge was modified at the south end of the centre subway platform, in the vicinity of the elevator, to better align with the height of subway trains. Customer feedback on these improvements has been overwhelmingly positive. TTC staff are now working to see if similar improvements can be made at other stations. Further information is expected to be reported to the Board in mid-2017.

New Fare Gates at Subway Stations    

In 2016, new PRESTO-enabled fare gates began to be -installed at TTC subway stations as part of the rollout of the PRESTO Fare Card system. These fare gates will replace all existing entry and exit turnstiles at main entrances, high entry and exit turnstiles at automatic entrances, Easier Access Portal Units (EAPUs) at automatic entrances, and accessible entry doors at Line 4 (Sheppard) automatic entrances.

In addition to several standard width fare gates, most subway stations will be equipped with two wide aisle accessible fare gates at the primary station entrance, an improvement from the single accessible fare gate at most stations today. Automatic entrances currently equipped with EAPUs or accessible entry doors will also be equipped with two accessible fare gates. All other automatic entrances will include one wide fare gate, improving access for customers with bicycles, strollers, or other large items.

Once PRESTO is fully deployed at the TTC, customers paying with all types of fares and fare concessions (senior, student, child, etc.) will, for the first time, be able to use any station entrance by tapping their PRESTO card.

The replacement of the current EAPUs with fare gates will also be a significant accessibility improvement for customers. The EAPU devices currently accept payment by token and Metropass only, and have not proven to be as reliable as our customers expect.

New fare gates were installed at, at least one entrance of 43 subway stations in 2016. Rollout of the new fare gates will continue through 2017 and into 2018. The remaining entrances that do not yet have the new fare gates will get them, including the 26 stations that had PRESTO card readers installed on the turnstiles in 2015.

Based on feedback from ACAT, a new lower PRESTO reader will be retrofitted onto all accessible fare gates, to ensure that these devices are as accessible as possible.

Line 3 (Scarborough) Accessibility Upgrades    

In 2016, work began to retrofit Line 3 (Scarborough) trains for improved accessibility, as an interim measure until the Scarborough Subway Extension opens. This work will include removal of eight seats on each train car to implement multi-purpose seating areas that can accommodate customers using mobility devices, new pull down handholds at the multi-purpose areas, and improved lighting and aesthetics throughout. The first retrofitted car is expected to enter service in 2017.

Transit Fare Equity   

Since 2014, the TTC staff and ACAT members have been working with the City of Toronto to develop a framework which would provide discounted fares to low-income residents.

At its December 13, 2016 meeting, Council adopted the Fair Pass Program, which includes a discount on the PRESTO adult single fare and PRESTO adult monthly pass for low-income residents, including customers with disabilities. The Fair Pass concession was subsequently approved by the TTC Board at the December 20, 2016 meeting and is scheduled to be implemented in a three-phase program between 2018 and 2020.

Customer Education on Accessibility    

TTC has heard from our customers with disabilities that a stronger emphasis is needed on public education regarding accessibility matters. In addition to ongoing customer education about the TTCs Priority Seating program, the TTC is working with the City of Toronto on a “Stay Focused. Stay Safe” safety campaign. In January, 2016, two new advertisements were launched as part of this campaign, which emphasize the proper procedures for customers to follow when people using mobility devices are boarding and alighting buses. The campaign aims to educate the public that people using mobility devices should board buses first and exit last, and that customers should be careful and stand clear when the ramp is deploying. As part of the campaign, a customer education video was developed with the assistance of ACAT members and released in 2016. A second educational video regarding low-floor streetcar use is planned for 2017.

Community Bus    

In 2015-16, TTC engaged a consultant to comprehensively review the TTC’s community bus service and determine feasibility of returning the community bus routes to sustainability.

As a result of that review, and prior to implementing and committing to permanent changes, TTC will undertake a pilot project starting in September 2017 with the following targets:

  • Extend 400 LAWRENCE MANOR northwest to Humber River Regional Hospital while simplifying the routing in the Bathurst/Lawrence area
  • Extend 404 EAST YORK to Coxwell Station at the west end of the route, and to Queen Street East at the east end of the route
  • Improve the headways of both routes to 60 minutes to provide an attractive service for customers

If the pilot project is successful in terms of diverting Wheel-Trans door-to-door trips and attracting a sustainable level of ridership in accordance with the revised service standards, it is expected that it would be viable to revise the remaining three existing community bus routes, and eventually implement up to six new routes throughout the City. In mid-2018, staff expect to report back on the results of the pilot project, and recommend whether to continue with, expand, or discontinue the route adjustments. Staff will also report on final route and implementation recommendations at that time for the proposed network as a whole.

Family of Services Pilot Project    

In 2017, TTC will be running a pilot project to identify potential strengths and weaknesses of the proposed Family of Services strategy. The purpose is to:

  • Test how well the conventional transit system copes with the Family of Services model
  • Identify how to best support customers and employees
  • Identify necessary operational, communication, and training improvements, so that adjustments can be made prior to the overall rollout across the TTC

The pilot project will include the subway system and five bus routes: 29 Dufferin, 84 Sheppard West, 85 Sheppard East, 95 York Mills, and 97 Yonge. Volunteers will be brought into the pilot program gradually over the course of the year and supported to take at least one Family of Services trip per week. Volunteers will be individually contacted to capture their feedback and experiences.

Mobility Transfer Hubs    

This new initiative as part of the Wheel-Trans Transformation Program will examine the feasibility, placement, design, and construction of a limited number of mobility transfer hubs, to support the Family of Services initiative.

Mobility transfer hubs will be designated transfer points between specialized and conventional modes of service. These transfer points will be clean, dry, well lit, etc., with the overall goal being to offer a safe hand-off from one mode to another. While many transfers will likely occur at subway stations or at other existing facilities, the need to provide a limited number of transfer points where no such facility currently exists has been identified.

It is anticipated that these transfer points will contain heated shelters, seating, lighting, automatic doors, and customer information points. Work is expected to begin on one mobility transfer hub in 2017.