Royal York station is the TTC’s 46th station of 75 to become accessible News Mar 12, 2020 by Tamara Shephard
Royal York subway station is now Toronto’s 46th accessible subway station. The Etobicoke subway station’s new elevator became operational in December. But city officials only recently officially opened it.
Marlene Benedicto, 36, who uses a power wheelchair, said while the city “is getting better” at accessibility, she takes Wheel-Trans weekdays to and from work in Scarborough. If the TTC’s College station was accessible, Benedicto said she would use it to commute to and from work rather than Wheel-Trans.
Victoria is a keen user of the elevator at newly accessible Royal York station.
“I like the elevator,” said Victoria, who declined to give her last name, but said she uses it once a week to visit a nearby seniors’ centre. “I don’t like the escalator. I’ve fallen twice on the escalator.”
Recently, city officials declared Royal York as the Toronto Transit Commission’s 46th accessible station in its system of 75 subway stations throughout Toronto.
That makes 61 per cent of TTC stations accessible.
TTC accessible stations include “elevators, wide fare gates, automatic sliding doors, upgraded signage, ramps, Wheel-Trans stops and other improvements,” TTC spokesperson Hayley Waldman said in an email.
Liz Vehkavaara also couldn’t be more pleased by Royal York station’s accessibility.
“I used the elevator yesterday. I was so happy to see it,” Vehkavaara said on a ride down to the subway platform on the Bloor-Danforth line. “It’s the best thing they ever did at Royal York station. I take it very often.”
Etobicoke-Lakeshore Coun. Mark Grimes, who represents the area, said people with accessibility needs previously had to access the TTC’s Bloor-Danforth subway line at either Kipling or Jane stations.
“Obviously, I would love to have all of our subway stations accessible right now, but there is a need to ensure that stations are accessible throughout our subway system, and not clustered in specific areas while we work toward making every station accessible,” Grimes said in an email.
For several years, the TTC has been upgrading its stations to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which became law in 2005.
The TTC’s 15-year capital investment plan, released last year, indicates the transit commission is on track to make all stations accessible by 2025.
However, the TTC states on its website the goal is “based on full funding.”
The third phase of the TTC’s station accessibility plan will cost $590 million. Its 2019-2023 TTC Multi-Year Accessibility Plan states the cost is fully funded between the city and the province. Last year, the Ontario government announced it would cut $1.1 billion in funding to Toronto, most of it slated for TTC repairs.
That left some concerned the TTC won’t meet the 2025 AODA deadline.
“It’s pretty damned urgent,” Shelley Carroll, a TTC commissioner, told toronto.com in December. “We simply will not meet that 2025 goal without more partnership (from other governments).”
TTC stations scheduled to become accessible this year include Dupont, Wellesley, Yorkdale, Wilson, Runnymede, Bay and Chester.
In Etobicoke, Kipling station is also accessible. Etobicoke’s other two TTC stations, Old Mill and Islington, are scheduled to become accessible in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
Accessible TTC station priority rankings were developed “in consultation with our ACAT (Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit), taking into account ridership, geographic location, connecting surface routes, density of seniors and people with disabilities in an area, Wheel-Trans registrant travel patterns and other criteria,” Waldman said in an email.
” With files from Mike Adler and Megan DeLaire
Tamara Shephard is a journalist in Etobicoke reporting hard news, politics and health and human-interest stories. Tamara loves to travel and is a fan of foreign and independent films. Email her at [email protected]