Customer Comments and Staff Responses
Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2020 Public Forum on Accessible Transit. Customer comments are accompanied by a summary of the current status of each issue.
Response to COVID-19 pandemic
- “What is the TTC doing to enforce people wearing masks on the bus?”
- “Some conventional vehicles have signs restricting seats on them, some don't, and there is no consistency when those signs are still present. Why are these signs still around?
- "If everyone is wearing a mask (in theory) then they shouldn't be needed, and not causing people who need to sit to have to stand.”
- “What plans does Wheel-Trans have in place to respond to the current second wave of COVID-19?”
- “How safe is my ride on a bus, taxi or van? Is it mandatory for all drivers to wear a mask?
- “Are Wheel-Trans cab rides capacity adjusted in any way? Are the taxi sedans still taking the same number of riders (often up to 4) for each ride?”
- “Is Wheel-Trans safe now that we are in Wave 2 of the pandemic? There is no cleaning at all between riders drop off and new pick up.”
- “Please inform me of COVID precautions taken by Wheel-Trans transporting people with intellectual limitations. Is there more than one person allowed in the vehicle?”
- “What are the rules for the COVID disinfection and so on on the taxis?”
97 per cent of TTC customers have adopted mask use. We are not enforcing as there are legitimate exemptions and as a public entity we cannot force people to prove medical exemption. TTC's focus is on education over enforcement and it is proving effective. We are reinstalling physical distancing signs as we see them come off. They are for guidance. If a parent/caregiver, for example, is traveling with a child or two they would not be able to follow the guidance.
Wheel-Trans is ensuring that proven safety measures from the first wave are either maintained or re-implemented to respond to the second wave, where possible. Currently, vehicles are cleaned at least twice per shift, Operators are provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and customers are requested to wear masks to help keep everyone safe. Hand sanitizer has also been provided on all vehicles and a protective barrier has been installed between the Operator and customers. Every driver/Operator is required to wear a mask as well as other PPE when providing service or engaged with a customer.
The capacity on accessible taxis and sedans has been reduced to provide solo rides. Customers are allowed an escort, but will not be scheduled with any other customers to increase safety while reducing the potential of community spread of COVID-19. All customers are required to wear masks if they are medically fit to do so and our Operators have a supply for those who do not arrive for their ride with one.
Accessible Taxis and Sedan taxis are disinfected/cleaned prior to the start of service. They are also cleaned once mid-shift for a minimum of two cleanings per day.
Conventional bus design
- “I can take a regular transit bus when not in a lot of pain but with a walker and other passengers with strollers I block the entryway/exit. What can be done? I think the seats for us need to be moved or the space designed in a way to make room for us with devices.”
- “Can the TTC explain why the single seats in the middle of the bus are only red and not blue when people with disabilities might need them for safety, and also for safe ingress/egress?”
The TTC has worked closely with vehicle manufacturers and ACAT to improve the accessibility of our buses. The passageway space between the front wheel-wells of the current standardized North American low-floor bus designs cannot be made wider. TTC always purchases the widest front doors available and ensures that all components at the front of the bus are arranged in such a way as to not impede the entrance area.
Our newest buses include flip-up priority seats which are designed in a more flexible manner and could enable people using walkers to place the walker beside them out of the path of travel when they are seated. We will continue to pursue design refinements, in collaboration with ACAT, for future vehicles. When designing seating layouts, we try to strike a balance between the number of blue priority seats and other seats. However, this will be reviewed as part of the TTC's next bus procurement
Transit stop design / location
- “Customer with vision loss is concerned about being able to locate far side streetcar stops on King Street.”
- “On The Danforth, what is the solution for Wheel-Trans to stop and disembark the client when sometimes they have to find a spot which is a five-minute walk or a seven-minute walk away from the doctor's office. And with a disability it is very difficult to get there. Can’t the municipality do something about that?”
Many transit stops across Toronto are located on the far side of intersections. Along the King Street Transit Priority Corridor these are equipped with a stop pole and a ramp down to the street level to provide accessibility. In the longer term, when King Street is reconstructed, TTC and the City intend to install raised transit platforms with tactile edges to better provide access to streetcars.
Wheel-Trans has been working with City staff regarding infrastructure changes to accommodate ActiveTO projects. A full review was completed on Danforth and the City has made changes so that customers are not unnecessarily inconvenienced
Transit stop design/location
- “The building I live in is midway between two bus stops. They're farther apart than I can get to, so I can't leave the apartment without getting Wheel-Trans.”
- “At Bathurst and Fort York the sidewalk is too high meaning I can't use my scooter to get off and on the streetcar.”
TTC Service Standards are designed to align transit stops planning with the needs of customers with limited mobility. TTC has adopted much more stringent stop catchment criteria of 400 metres instead of the industry standard of 600 metres. TTC also calculates walking distances at a much slower average rate of speed of 1 metre per second instead of the industry norm of 1.2 metres per second, to better encapsulate the average walking speeds of all customers in a stop catchment area, including those with limited mobility.
Stops are also limited by the surrounding infrastructure such as the presence of protected pedestrian crossings afforded by traffic signals, stop signs and pedestrian crossovers. There may be cases where customers believe a transit stop is relatively simple to install at their midblock location, however, TTC staff will not support new midblock stops if adequate crossing protection is not available in the immediate area.
TTC also adopts minimum stop spacing criteria of every 300 to 400 metres when placing transit stops to balance local customer access to transit service and the reliable journey of those customers already on board transit vehicles to reduce the frustrating “stop-and-go” experience of customers on buses serving closely placed stops. TTC staff will generally not support new stops if they fall within this 300 to 400 metre stop spacing between surrounding transit stops.
TTC continues work to make transit stops accessible and has plans and funding to make hundreds more stops accessible over the next few years. TTC staff are aware of stop accessibility concerns at Bathurst and Fort York and are engaged in ongoing discussions with the City of Toronto to remedy the situation as part of bridge reconstruction work in 2020.
Customer Education on Accessibility
- “Can the TTC say something in its advertisements about the bullying and bystander problem when customers with disabilities request a seat?”
Yes, we will consider this for 2021
Information in Alternate Formats
- “TTC printed materials need to be in accessible formats.”
All material on the TTC website is accessible. TTC can also produce material in a specific format on request. Please refer to TTC’s Accessible Customer Service Policy.
Better Information in Subway Stations
- “Has TTC thought about implementing any accessible navigation in their system and if so have you thought about integrating with a new app to provide those real-time updates as well as navigation?”
Yes, electronic navigation is part of the TTC Wayfinding Strategy currently in development. We are also currently piloting beacon wayfinding at St Clair Station. More information is available on the TTC website at: http://www.ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Easier_access_on_the_TTC/Beacon_pilot.jsp
Support Person Assistance Card
- “I applied for a TTC Support Person card for my daughter in February and I haven't received a response.”
- “I have a permanent disability. Can someone investigate why, when renewing my 'Support Person Card', I am required to go through the hassle and inconvenience of having the disability verified in writing by a health care professional again? In fact, why does the card expire at all if one has a permanent disability?”
- “When will the new PRESTO Assistant card be available and how do people apply for them?”
Support Person Assistance Card applications can take up to 6 weeks to be processed. If TTC received your Support Person Assistance Card application in February you should have received your card in the mail long ago. Please call our Customer Service line at 416 393 3030 so we can look further into this. Support Person Assistant Cards can be obtained in person at our new, accessible Photo ID Centre at Bathurst Station, or by submitting your completed application and photos via mail.
We are looking to update the Support Person Assistance Card program over the next year, as part of our 5-Year Fare Policy & 10-Year Collection Outlook. This will determine how it can be transitioned to PRESTO.TTC is also looking at updating the application process as part of this work.
PRESTO fare payment
- “How do we reset our PRESTO cards so we can deal with the Fair Pass Discount plan when the city buildings are closed?”
- “I work at a not for profit and we offered a service of providing our homeless clients tokens to get to housing viewing appointments. With the PRESTO system how can we continue to offer this service to our clients?”
- “Wheel-Trans is a service which includes people with cognitive disabilities (such as dementia) as its target audience. Why don't you have more accessible/appropriate methods of payment for this client group? Presto card is not appropriate for elderly people with dementia. They don't understand the concept and their disability may cause them to lose track of the card. There should be an option to be invoiced on a monthly basis. Very often a family member is dealing with paying the bills so it would be much more practical.”
- “I deposited $50.00 in my presto card last year. Due to illness, and later a need to travel with caregiver, my card has hardly been used. Can I redeem $40.00 from it for now? Where can I do that?”
Eligible customers can continue to renew their Fair Pass discount during this time. You do not need to submit a new application or consent form to renew your discount. It will be renewed automatically as long as you still meet the program’s eligibility criteria. All you need to do is tap your card at any TTC PRESTO card reader to complete the renewal process. If you have questions about your eligibility, your discount has expired, you have a concern about the discount or you are not a registered cardholder, contact your caseworker or call 416-338-8888 for more information.
The TTC continues to sell legacy tickets/tokens through our bulk program and at select third party retailers. As we look to discontinue legacy fares, work has begun on our 5-Year Fare Policy and will look to determine the future of bulk sales, understanding the needs of social agencies and community services which provide single fares to their clients. Public engagement will be part of this work in 2021. This will also help to inform future fare policies and the payment landscape going forward. Details of ACAT participation will follow in which suggestions and feedback such as this can be shared and captured for consideration as part of this project.
If you added funds to your PRESTO card but don’t need the card anymore, you can get a refund on your card balance by completing the PRESTO Refund Form and mailing the form and your PRESTO Card PRESTO. A cheque or e-transfer will be sent to you approximately 4-6 weeks after PRESTO receives your Refund Form and PRESTO card. More information and the refund form can be found online at: https://www.prestocard.ca/en/about/paper-forms
TTC Customer Service
- “When is the TTC customer service going back to regular time up to 10:00pm? If the customer service line is closed how do you make a complaint?”
The TTC Customer Service Centre continues to operate with modified hours of operation from 7:00am to 8:00pm, 7 days per week. We will continue to monitor customer feedback and our call centre data to determine if and when we will resume our regular hours of operation. Customer Service may be reached at other times of the day or through the TTC website.
More elevators and escalators
- “When will Wilson, Yorkdale and Sherbourne Stations be accessible?”
The current schedule for Easier Access improvements is posted online at: https://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Projects/Easier_Access/Easier_Access_Schedule.jsp Wilson Station is planned to be made accessible in Q4 2020, and Yorkdale and Sherbourne Stations in 2021. Construction is well underway at each of these stations
Community bus service
- “I live in an area that is well known for seniors and individuals with disabilities near Dundas West and Bloor. How come we can't get the community bus service to Dundas West Station? This would make it more accessible so I can shop in my community.”
Plans for community bus improvements are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, when implemented TTC plans to modify the 402 Parkdale route to provide a direct connection to Dundas West Station
- “What is the expected failure rate of elevators? (indoor/outdoor)? These are very important for transit stations and hubs/trip planning.”
- “With the winter snow season in sight, can TTC guarantee that all bus stops will be readily accessible with all stops being optimally cleared of snow and/or ice so that bus ramps can be lowered for the riders who require its use? It is expected that the TTC work with the City of Toronto to ensure this identified accessibility need be met.”
Our current target level of service for reliability of elevators is at least 60 days between unplanned stoppages
TTC regularly shares stop information with the City of Toronto Road Operations team for Winter Maintenance and all bus stops are included in their contracts. Any concerns about snow clearing at bus stops should be forwarded to the City of Toronto at 311 for a response.
Wheel-Trans Vehicle Design
- “Is the ProMaster bus equipped with air or standard shocks? How many passengers can it take?”
- “Why buy more sedan taxis when we need van taxis?”
The 6-Meter ProMaster bus is equipped with gas shocks. The vehicle has a maximum of six seated positions and enough space for two people using wheelchairs.
At this time, sedan taxis provide TTC with the flexibility to meet on-demand requests and accommodate Wheel-Trans customers who don't necessarily require a mobility device, however, this is something we are currently reviewing
Wheel-Trans cross-boundary travel
- “In terms of transferring from one region to another, to Peel or York Region to Toronto, I believe I heard that there was a working group that's involved in trying to make this process easier? Is it actually feasible to transfer within two different regions?”When will the new streetcars will begin running on routes 505, 506, and 511?”
Yes, it is possible to transfer between regions and we do have information on the website as to how to do that. You would have to speak with Peel or York Region about transfer policies between those two municipalities. A customer would book a trip to a transfer point on the boundary of Toronto with Wheel-Trans, then a trip from the transfer point to the address they are visiting in the neighbouring region with the paratransit organization from that region, who would pick you up and take you into Peel, York, or Durham.
Wheel-Trans telephone booking
- “Why is the wait time to get through on the phone so long even before the COVID-19 pandemic?
- “When will Telus start taking overflow calls for the Wheel-Trans call centre?”
- “Please be aware that not everyone has computer or smartphone access. They cannot book online and must rely on a timely, robust phone system.”
Wait times in Customer Service have been below one minute on average for many months now, while our average wait time in Reservations has been well below our target of 15 minutes each month for the last 18 months. We are also introducing additional reservationists starting in the month of November to handle overflow calls for when many customers call us all at the same time (peak times). This should help us achieve our new goal of a 2-minute average wait time for customers. We are aware that almost 50% of our bookings are done by phone and we will continue to focus on the customer experience using that method.
- “Please stop phoning so early in the morning!”
- “Why is the pick up time always so far ahead of the requested time? For example, the requested arrival time is 11:00am and it may be a 15-minute drive but the pick up time may be scheduled for 8:30am. Which means there is sometimes a 2-hour wait. “
- “In the winter I get dropped off an hour before my shift starts or before my building even opens and I’m freezing in my wheelchair. I get picked up an hour after my shift change. I don't think anybody else wants to sit at work two hours being unpaid and then have to pick up other people and their travel time is an hour, hour and a half longer than it should be in the winter. I want know what's being done to accommodate the workers who are already struggling to get to work?”
Our callouts start at 7 p.m. daily. Calls that are not completed the night before are made the morning of the trip. The first Wheel-Trans trip confirmation calls start at 7:45 a.m. If that is too early, customers can opt out of the callouts by calling Customer Service and instead check their ride times online or on the rideline.
Our scheduling system does its best to schedule rides as close to requested times as possible. There may be days or times where this is more difficult but it should not be the norm. If this is a consistent issue, please call Wheel-Trans Customer Service and we will see if there is something we can do to better address this matter
Wheel-Trans service reliability
- “How does Wheel-Trans measure and track performance? GPS or some other method?”
- “Why is the wait time for pick up so long? It's sometimes 30 minutes to an hour.”
Accessible taxi and sedan performance is randomly checked by comparing GPS coordinates with customer scheduled pick-up time. We are also working on upgrading our system to view the vehicles on our maps in real-time. Taxi performance is also measured with the number of complaints received versus the number of trips provided.
Wheel-Trans works very hard to ensure that each customer is picked up at the scheduled pick-up time. We are able to pick up each customer within 20 minutes 95 percent of the time. We are also working very diligently to improve our technology so that we can keep customers informed of the status of their trips
Wheel-Trans trip length
- “Why does your scheduling system include rush hour routes with the first pick up in Scarborough and the second or third pick up in Etobicoke or intersections like Jane and Finch before dropping customers in downtown after 2.5 hours and vice versa? Prior to the pandemic, it was happening to myself and fellow customers who have been commuting to downtown for work.”
- “Pre-COVID there were many occasions when I would be in a vehicle for more than an hour and a half.”
- “During non-COVID time, when carpooling, why do the taxis travel in a circle? They go west, when my destination is east and then north. Can't you get them to travel like buses or subways? It seems costly and highly inefficient for customers to travel in the wrong direction.”
Wheel-Trans is a shared-ride service and multiple pick ups are required on many trips to accommodate all of our customers as much as possible. However, trips should not take 2.5 hours to complete when using Wheel-Trans. Our scheduling system tries to ensure that each trip is completed no more than two times as long as what it would take to get there directly. Any time a customer is on-board a vehicle for more than two hours, they should report it to Customer Service to be investigated.
Wheel-Trans eligibility and Family of Services
- “Can the TTC remove the 'rush hour' condition which can limit access to Wheel-Trans? Overcrowding happens all the time, even when it's not 'rush hour'.”
- “Since I first registered with Wheel-Trans my physical condition has worsened. How can I get my category updated to only use door-to-door?”
- “In September 2019 I received notice that I required to be reassessed. The reassessment as my friends who have had it, entails a trip to 43 Wellesley and the test lasts 10 to 15 minutes. You are asked some questions and walk a few steps up and down. I am considered disabled by the CRA and City of Toronto. This would mean a 4-hour trip! I question why this is necessary. As no equipment is involved, why could this test not be performed at different locations in the city?”
- “New eligibility criteria makes it difficult to gain access to the Wheel-Trans full service. I feel that those who really need service are being denied.”
- “Shouldn't non-residents be checked for eligibility or all be put on FOS?”
The rush hour condition will not be removed, however, we do realize that vehicles can be busy at other times during the day. We consistently work with our conventional transit (bus/streetcar/subway) partners to ensure that headways are maintained to appropriate levels. If a vehicle is crowded, it is likely that the next one (outside of rush hour), will not be and all our Family of Services routes are on routes with headways of 10 minutes or less. If a customer is unable to safely travel during rush/peak hours, they will be designated with that condition, and will receive Wheel-Trans service during those hours.
If your condition has changed, please re-register for service or if you have just recently received your eligibility decision, please refer to the steps online to submit an eligibility appeal.
Under conditional trip matching, FOS trips will only be given to those customers who are able to use the conventional system at the time/conditions in place for their trip. There is an appeal process for those who feel their eligibility has not been determined correctly. The new eligibility criteria widens the scope of customers that are eligible for Wheel-Trans service from those with only physical disabilities to those with mental health, cognitive, sensory and other disabilities. Those that need the service are not being denied as our ineligibility rate is below 1%.
Eligibility for non-residents is determined by their home para-transit provider. GTHA customers who do not live in the City of Toronto have their eligibility determined through an application by the paratransit organization of the region they live in. Wheel-Trans has an agreement with all surrounding paratransit organizations to honour the initial eligibility determined by them, and offer the same level of service to the customer when they use Wheel-Trans.
“Is there a time limit in a vehicle during transportation?”
“Can you book Wheel-Trans on the day you need if it is an emergency-same day service?”
All customer trips should be completed in no more than two hours for most trips. There are exceptions, especially if a customer is travelling across the City of Toronto during rush hour.
We allow customers to book a trip up to four hours in advance on the day of service. Customers are advised to seek other transportation services in an emergency situation.
Wheel-Trans no show and cancellation policy
“Why is it that if I'm 6 minutes late I'm a no show but the driver can be 31 minutes late before I can contact you?”
“Why does Reservations cancel rides for customers that had a no show in the pick-up time and didn't report any no show. Sometimes you might find the customer didn't report a no show and found a different way to get there, but is still expecting a ride home?”
“If you book a return trip and don't use the pick up (because you got a ride from a friend) but don't notify Wheel-Trans will Wheel-Trans still honour the second part of the trip and do the return?”
The five-minute no-show policy is to ensure our Operators are not forced to wait for an undetermined amount of time not knowing when the customer will arrive, resulting in making other customers late for their trips and appointments.
If a customer no-shows their first trip and does not call Wheel-Trans within 30 minutes of that trip time to tell us that the return trip is still needed, the return trip will be automatically cancelled. Wheel-Trans should be notified as soon as possible about trip cancellations.
Wheel-Trans online booking
- “For the aging population I notice too many times the aggressive nature of vehicles stops and start, causing patrons to fly through the vehicle. Also, too many times drivers miss picking up seniors who have patiently waited for their ride. Is there training to consider the aging population?”
- “Please ensure third-party contractors -- are trained to accommodate people with disabilities.”
- “As a person of color, I have endured on multiple occasions have suffered racism not just from customers but from taxi drivers. I have called in a few times and reported the incidents. My question is, what are Wheel-Trans’ action plans for dealing with this?”
- “Taxi drivers need more training concerning our needs. Helping people up curbs, coming to the door, etc.”
All Operators complete driver training and are receive refresher training every three years. If a customer has a concern about aggressive driving by an Operator, they are encouraged to contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service so that the Operator can be counselled.
Reminders regarding refresher training annually are sent to drivers annually. This training includes Safety and Awareness, Quality Assurance, dealing with customers with disabilities and conducting themselves in a professional manner as a representative of the TTC. Operators are also trained on escorting, driving safely, asking to assist securing of customers and any mobility device. If you have any concerns about a particular ride or experience, please contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service with details.
TTC and Wheel-Trans take these matters very seriously and we do not tolerate racism in any form. We encourage immediate reporting of any incidents of this manner. If incidents like this are reported we take swift, appropriate action with drivers and customers.
Wheel-Trans taxi maintenance
- “The taxi I traveled in today was dirty with animal hairs and dirt on floor.”
We apologize for this and we will send a reminder to every Contractor to ensure every vehicle is cleaned.
- “Why don't you have an accessibility team on staff to protect your employees and your customers? When you're moving million and you employ thousands, having an unpaid board from the most under employed section of the population I find it offensive.”
- “Do you know what percentage of TTC employees use the TTC? Relevant because the more people use something, the more likely they are to see the issues, and may become more aware of the frustrations that people with disabilities come across on a regular basis: elevators down, large groups of people on subway platforms, ramps not working, etc.”
- “I used one of those taxi vehicles. How are they insured in case an accident happens of some sort?”
In addition to the volunteer efforts from ACAT, TTC does have a dedicated accessibility planning team. Further, accessibility awareness and accommodation is part of the job description of every TTC employee and responsibilities for accessibility improvements are spread across the organization. This extends to the highest levels, including reports to the TTC Board, all of which are reviewed through an accessibility and equity lens.
On average, 50 to 60 per cent of TTC employees used the transit system prior to the onset of the pandemic. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, approximately 37% of Torontonians used public transit to commute to work.
Every taxi providing service under contract to the TTC must have insurance as per the City of Toronto regulatory agency (Municipal Licensing & Standards), as well as our own contract requirements. Insurance information is reviewed twice annually.