Canada and Ontario Invest in Accessible Public Transit Infrastructure for Residents of Peel Region


From: Infrastructure Canada

Region of Peel, Ontario, January 27, 2021-The safety and well-being of Canadians are top priorities of the governments of Canada and Ontario. Investments in Ontario’s infrastructure during this extraordinary time provides an opportunity to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and to make our communities more inclusive and resilient.

That is why, together, these governments are taking decisive action to help families, businesses and communities as they adapt to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontarians need safe and reliable public transit to get to work and home, to appointments, to shop for essentials, and to conduct business. Strategic investments in accessible public transportation infrastructure play a key role in delivering this service.

Today, The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General of Ontario and Member of Provincial Parliament for Dufferin-Caledon, on behalf of The Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; and Nando Iannicca, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation of the Regional Municipality of Peel, announced funding for two projects that will modernize and improve accessibility for Peel Region’s public transit system.

The Government of Canada is investing more than $3.5 million in these projects through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS) of the Investing in Canada plan. The Government of Ontario is providing close to $3 million, and the Region of Peel is contributing more than $2.3 million.

One project involves the replacement of existing specialized transit buses with 69 new, specialized, 8-metre buses as the current fleet reaches the end of its planned service lifecycle. The new propane-powered buses, with side-mounted lift, will provide accessible transit in Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon, and are capable of carrying as many as six wheelchair passengers.

The second project involves the adoption of the PRESTO electronic fare collection system across the Regional Municipality of Peel’s TransHelp fleet. This project includes the design, planning, purchase and hardware installation of up to 145 portable, tablet-based, electronic payment units.

These projects will result in increased capacity, and improved quality, safety and access to the public transit system in the Region of Peel.

All orders of government continue to work together for the people of Ontario to make strategic infrastructure investments in communities across the province when needed most.

Quotes

“These investments will help make sure there’s accessible public transit, powered by lower-emissions propane, for residents across Peel Region, throughout Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. And by modernizing the public transit payment method to one already in use in other Ontario cities, we’re giving TransHelp bus riders more options to make fare payment easier. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“The modernization of public transit is vital to ensure that the system is accessible for all residents of Peel Region. These investments will expand accessibility to transit, improve payment efficiency and give all residents the option to get around quickly and affordably.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Federal Minister of Transport

“Increasing accessibility to transit in our community is welcomed and exciting news. Many residents of Caledon and across our region rely on Peel Transhelp to get to work, school and appointments. Our government’s close to $3 million investment will greatly improve the quality of life for many individuals and families.”

Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General of Ontario and Member of Provincial Parliament for Dufferin-Caledon, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

“Making it easier for families to travel in, out, and around Peel region is a priority of our government. Improving public transit accessibility by expanding the Peel Transhelp fleet with more energy efficient buses will help keep Peel moving safely and efficiently for all who call our Region home.”

Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, and Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton South

“Peel’s goal is to create a place where everyone enjoys a sense of belonging and has access to the services and opportunities needed to thrive. This funding supports initiatives that directly improve the service experience for passengers with disabilities and advances the modernization of specialized transit in Peel. It’s an example of all levels of government working together to directly benefit the community by ensuring residents with disabilities can continue to travel without barriers.”

Nando Iannicca, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation of the Regional Municipality of Peel

Quick facts

Through the Investing in Canada plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.

Across Ontario, the Government of Canada has invested more than $8.1 billion in over 2,750 infrastructure projects.

$28.7 billion of this funding is supporting public transit projects.

Ontario is investing over $10.2 billion under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to improve public transit; community, culture and recreation; green, and rural and northern community and other priority infrastructure.

Across the province, Ontario is investing more than $7.3 billion in public transit infrastructure over 10 years through the

Contacts

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
613-941-0660
[email protected]

Christine Bujold
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure 416-454-1782
[email protected]

Sofia Sousa-Dias
Communications Branch
Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure
437-991-3391
[email protected]

Amie Miles
Manager, Strategic Client Communications
Region of Peel
416-209-4317
[email protected]

Media Relations
Infrastructure Canada
613-960-9251
Toll free: 1-877-250-7154
Email: [email protected]

Original at https://www.canada.ca/en/office-infrastructure/news/2021/01/canada-and-ontario-invest-in-accessible-public-transit-infrastructure-for-residents-of-peel-region.html




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Stratford Residents to Benefit From New Public Transit Infrastructure and Accessible Buses


STRATFORD, ON: Strategic investments in public transit infrastructure support efficient, affordable, and sustainable transportation services that help Stratford residents get to work, school and essential services on time and safely back home at the end of the day.

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Randy Pettapiece, MPP, PerthâWellington on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; and his Worship Dan Mathieson, Mayor of the City of Stratford, today announced funding for ten public transit infrastructure projects in the City.

All of the projects will improve Stratford’s public transit fleet and supporting infrastructure. Five new conventional buses and two mobility buses will replace the aging fleet, improving the accessibility, reliability, and safety of the system for users. An additional bus will be purchased to meet the City’s growing demand for public transit. The bus routes will also see improvements with the installation of 8 new accessible shelters.

Stratford’s transit fleet will be equipped with an automated voice and signage system on buses that will notify passengers when each stop is approaching. Transit users will also be able to track their bus locations using a real time arrival smartphone application.

To encourage an increase in ridership on Sundays and improve access to public transit, the City of Stratford will pilot the design of new bus routes using an application-based, on-demand software. On Sundays, transit users will be able to request pick-up and drop-off locations at selected stops by using a smart phone app or by accessing the internet from their phone or a computer.

Together, these investments will provide residents with a more accessible and reliable bus service.

The Government of Canada is investing over $1.6 million in these projects through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS) of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Government of Ontario is providing approximately $1.4 million to the projects, while the City of Stratford is contributing more than $1 million.

Quotes

Investing in modern and accessible public transit systems is essential to building healthy, communities. Many Stratford residents rely on public transit to access local services and get around the region each day and these investments will improve the accessibility and reliability of bus services. We are working with our partners to build better public transit that contributes to cleaner, healthier and more liveable communities for our children and grandchildren.

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Stratford is getting eight new buses, new bus shelters and is piloting a new online, on-demand transit service for riders. Ontario’s investment of approximately $1.4 million, along with our Stratford and Federal government partners will help transit riders get around town a lot faster. This new transit will help people get to where they want to go – to work, to school, shopping, the doctors or other appointments, traveling around Stratford or home to their families.

Randy Pettapiece, MPP, PerthâWellington on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

This is a meaningful investment in our community that will not only help to modernize our transit fleet, but also improve the overall transit service for all riders in Stratford. New buses, additional shelters and an innovative on-demand pilot project will make it more accessible, more comfortable and more convenient to use public transportation in our city.

His Worship Dan Mathieson, Mayor of the City of Stratford

Quick facts

Through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.
$28.7 billion of this funding is supporting public transit projects, including $5 billion available for investment through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
More than $10.1 billion of this funding is supporting trade and transportation projects, including $5 billion available for investment through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
The Government of Ontario is providing approximately $1.4 million to ten public transit projects in Stratford.
To date, the Province has nominated more than 350 projects and continues to work closely with the federal government to secure approvals under this program. Ontario has committed to investing $144 billion in infrastructure across the province over the ten years. Use the Ontario Builds map to find projects in your community.

(PRN)

Original at https://www.newkerala.com/news/2020/42728.htm




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People With Disabilities Isolated by Transit Strike, Advocate says


‘There’s very, very limited choices and people are basically trapped in their homes’ Carmen Groleau
CBC News
Posted: Jan 23, 2020

People with disabilities in Waterloo region continue to face major transportation challenges as Grand River Transit workers enter their third strike day.

Edward Faruzel, executive director of Kitchener-Waterloo AccessAbility, says there are very limited transportation options available for people with disabilities and many solely rely on public transit.

Kitchener-Waterloo AccessAbility is an information and resource centre that serves and supports adults with physical disabilities in the region.

Faruzel, who uses a wheelchair, said there are less than 20 accessible cabs available within the twin cities and even less accessible options on Uber.

“If you’re able bodied you could walk or you could go with a friend in their vehicle, but really there’s very, very limited choices and people are basically trapped in their homes,” he said.

Even for those who can take a cab or an Uber, it’s still not a feasable option, he adds.

Relying on friends, neighbours

Faruzel normally relies on GRT’s Mobility Plus and the ION to get to where he needs to go. Mobility Plus has been affected by the strike and though ION is still running, the closest stop is three kilometres from where he lives.

He said he considers himself fortunate because he owns his vehicle, but he needs someone to drive it.

“I still need to get somebody to drive me back and forth, so I’m having issues finding someone to pick me up and take me to work and then take me home,” he said.

“I’m relying heavily on friends, neighbours to help me with the regular day-to-day living tasks.”

Transit an essential service

Kitchener-Waterloo AccessAbility’s ability to deliver services have also been affected by the labour strike.

The agency says they’ve had to postpone all of its events until the strike is over.

A possible solution to the issue would be for transit to become an essential service, Faruzel said.

“Because other than that, there really are no other options.”

Original at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/waterloo-region-grt-transit-strike-affects-people-with-disabilities-1.5436172




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TransLink has Approved $7 Million in Funding to Upgrade the Transit System for the Visually Impaired.


The transit agency calls the program “industry-leading,” and says it will significantly improve the transit experience for blind and partially-sighted passengers.

Tactile and braille signage will be added to an estimated 8,500 bus stops in the system starting in 2020, while tactile walking surface indicators will be installed at stations and bus exchanges.

TransLink says the braille signage will include the five-digit bus stop ID number, the words The words “STOP” or “BAY #” to identify the bus stop, route numbers and the customer service telephone number.

The agency says it is also working on developing a wayfinding technology pilot that would work with visually impaired passengers’ tablets or smartphones.

TransLink says it has been doing testing on accessible bus stops since 2012, when it piloted the braille and tactile walking surface indicators at the Joyce-Collingwood bus exchange.

Original at https://globalnews.ca/news/6264724/translink-to-spend-7m-to-upgrade-transit-system-for-the-visually-impaired/




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London to prevent vehicles for hire from charging disabled people extra fees – London


 

The City of London has changed its regulations governing vehicles for hire, in order to ensure people with disabilities are not charged extra fees.

Under the new regulations, all cabs, accessible cabs and limousines will not be able to charge a higher fee to people with a disability for things that include having to store a mobility aid like a wheelchair.

The new regulation is meant to enforce the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which already makes it illegal to charge someone with a disability an extra fee.

Disability rights advocate Jeff Preston says it’s a problem he has personally faced in more than one city.

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“I have had times where cab drivers have told me there is a service fee or an additional fee because it takes longer to load me or unload me from the back of their vehicle,” Preston said, “and some cab drivers simply refuse to pick me up.”

Preston added he has heard of fees ranging anywhere from $10 to upwards of $50 in some places.

“Unfortunately, we have this problem around the world, where we expect disabled people to pay more simply because their needs are different then the standard care,” he said.

Nicole Musicco, the city’s municipal policy specialist, said the changes were made due to some recent complaints.

READ MORE:
Disability advocates say Ontario government needs to step up funding for therapy

“There were some concerns received by the city from costumers requiring accessible vehicle for high services who had unfortunately been charged an extra fee for the storage of mobility aids,” she said.

Under the new regulations, all vehicles are required to display a public notice informing riders of their rights.

Musicco added if a customer runs into a situation in which they are being charged an additional fee, they should contact the municipal law enforcement division so they can investigate.

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Drivers who are caught not following the new regulations will face either a fee or penalty.

WATCH: (June 25, 2019) Disability rights advocates challenge new air travel rules






Disability rights advocates challenge new air travel rules


Disability rights advocates challenge new air travel rules








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Timmins Transit Brings High-Tech Wheelchair Safety to Buses


Timmins transit unveils new technology that will give riders in wheelchairs a safer and more comfortable ride. Sergio Arangio, CTV News Northern Ontario Videojournalist
@sergioCTVNews
Published Friday, September 27, 2019

TIMMINS — Timmins Transit officially revealed the addition of new wheelchair securement technology to one of its buses.

The Q’Straint Quantum system looks to give commuters in wheelchairs a safer and more independent ride, and Timmins Transit is one of the first in Ontario to use it.

“It allows the individual to not have to feel like you have to interrupt or disturb the driver or also it might be embarrassing to ask a question to be secured in front of all the other people on board,” said Jamie Millions, operations manager of Timmins Transit.

The system works by having the rider centre his or her wheelchair with its back to the system’s headrest, pressing the green-flashing button to the rider’s left to lower a securement arm, then squeezes the wheelchair in place, and actively adjusts pressure during the trip.

(Quantum wheelchair securement technology increases the independence and safety of passengers in wheelchairs. Sergio Arangio/CTV Northern Ontario)

When ready to disembark, riders simply press the green button again to exit.

Millions said it’s a much faster procedure than having the driver manually secure the wheelchair and can make the rider more comfortable.

“It’s fully automatic and that person has full independence,” said Millions.

The technology costs $15,000 per unit and can come pre-installed with new buses or retrofitted with existing ones.

Millions hopes to purchase a new bus with this system every year, as old buses get phased out, until the city’s entire 19-bus fleet has a unit installed.

David Rivard works with the Timmins Accessibility Advisory Committee and uses a motorized wheelchair. He got to give the new system a test drive and said he was impressed.

“I think it’s going to be very useful … not just for the people in the wheelchair, but for everybody else on the bus,” said Rivard.

Studies from the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development suggest up to 94% of injuries wheelchair passengers face occur from tipping over during regular operations. Other studies also report up to 58% of wheelchair passenger injuries occurred from improper securement.

Rivard said many transit riders in wheelchairs will avoid asking to be manually secured out of embarrassment for holding up everyone’s commute. He says the Quantum system could be encouraging for riders.

“You don’t want a big wheelchair sliding around, so I think it’s going to be a lot safer for everybody and a lot more convenient,” said Rivard.

Original at https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/timmins-transit-brings-high-tech-wheelchair-safety-to-buses-1.4613348




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More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

More Media on the E-scooters Issue – and – On September 25, Attend Either a Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act or the TTC’s Public Forum on Accessible Transit

September 23, 2019

          SUMMARY

1. Yet More Media Attention on the Problems with Allowing Electric Scooters Out in Public in Our Province

There have now been four weeks since we learned about the Ford Government’s troubling plan to allow unlicensed, uninsured people to drive electric scooters in Ontario in a 5-year pilot project. We presented it to Ontarians as a serious disability issue. Since then, the media coverage of this issue just keeps on coming!

Below we set out an article on this subject that was in the September 21, 2019 Globe and Mail. It does not make the e-scooters’ disability issues its focus.

As well, last week, on Friday, September 20, 2019, CBC Radio devoted an entire hour to a province-wide call-in program on e-scooters on its Ontario Today program. Those taking part in that program echoed a number of the concerns with e-scooters that we have been raising. The CBC included a clip from an earlier interview with AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky in the program.

We are especially concerned to know what kind of audience our provincial and municipal politicians are giving to the lobbyists for the companies that are lobbying hard to rent e-scooters in Ontario. Those of course are the very companies whose business plan includes people randomly leaving e-scooters on our public sidewalks, creating new barriers for pedestrians with disabilities. We have contended that our public sidewalks are not meant for their businesses’ free parking. Our provincial and municipal politicians should make public their discussions with those corporate lobbyists.

We encourage you to check out the September 12, 2019 brief that the AODA Alliance has submitted to the Ontario Government. Please let the Government know if you support our brief and its recommendations. You can write the Government at [email protected]

2. Come to the Toronto September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the Accessible Canada Act

Would you like to know what the federal parties are promising to do, if elected, to strengthen the new Accessible Canada Act and to ensure that it is swiftly and effectively implemented and enforced? If you are in the Toronto area, come to the September 25, 2019 federal candidates’ forum on this topic, organized by the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Centre, and the Reena Foundation. We set out the announcement below. It includes information on how to sign up to attend this event.

We are hoping that this event will also be live streamed, but details are still in the works. , AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky has been invited to be a subject matter expert during this debate.

We encourage you to use the AODA Alliance’s brand new Action Kit for tips on how to raise disability accessibility issues in this federal election.

3. Another Chance to Alert TTC to Public Transit Barriers in Toronto

Do you still run into accessibility barriers when using public transit in Toronto? Here is another opportunity to try to press for reforms at the TTC.

Below is the Toronto Transit Commission’s announcement of its 2019 Annual Public Forum on Accessible Transit. It will be held on the evening of Wednesday, September 25, 2019 from 7 to 9 pm.

It is too bad that both this TTC forum and the federal candidates forum on the Accessible Canada Act will be taking place at the same date and time. We encourage one and all in the Toronto area to come to this TTC event, or the federal candidates’ event. Raise accessibility problems you have experienced on the TTC. It is important to shine the light on accessibility issues that continue to plague people with disabilities on public transit in Canada’s biggest city.

Over three years ago, the Ontario Government appointed a new Transportation Standards Development Committee under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to review the 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, and to recommend any needed changes to strengthen it. That Committee’s final reform recommendations, which the former Ontario Government under Kathleen Wynne made public in the 2018 spring, were exceptionally weak. If implemented, they wouldn’t significantly improve that very limited accessibility standard.

In its first 15 months in office, the new Ontario Government under Premier Doug Ford has announced no new action to make public transit accessible in Ontario for people with disabilities. It has announced no action on this subject as a result of the Transportation Standards Development Committee’s 2018 recommendations.

This is part of a bigger and troubling provincial picture. The Ford Government has done nothing since taking office to strengthen and accelerate the sluggish implementation and enforcement of the AODA.

Back on January 31, 2019, the Ford Government received the final report of the most recent Independent Review of the AODA’s implementation conducted by former Lieutenant Governor David Onley. That was 236 days ago. That report found a pressing need to substantially strengthen the AODA’s implementation. Yet the Ford Government has announced no comprehensive plan to implement the Onley Report’s recommendations for strengthening the AODA’s implementation.

Please contact your local media and encourage them to attend the TTC forum. Video record or photograph barriers on TTC you have experienced. Send them to the media. Publicize them on social media like Twitter and Facebook. Use the ever-popular hashtag #AODAfail in tweets about these barriers, as part of our “Picture Our Barriers” campaign.

TTC will again stream this public forum event live. Check out details below in the TTC announcement.

This TTC Public Forum originated in 2008 as a result of the 2007 Human Rights Tribunal order in Lepofsky v. TTC #2. Eleven years ago, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ordered TTC to hold one such event per year for the three years after the Tribunal ruled against TTC in Lepofsky v. TTC #2.

After starting to hold these events because it was ordered to do so commendably TTC decided to keep holding these events once per year, even though TTC originally and strenuously opposed David Lepofsky when he asked the Human Rights Tribunal to make this order.

Since 2011, TTC and all public transit providers in Ontario are required by law to hold a similar event each year in your community under section 41(2) of the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation, enacted under the AODA. If you live outside Toronto, ask your public transit provider when they are planning to hold their annual public forum on accessible transit. If your public transit authority has not done so, please contact Raymond Cho, who is Ontario’s Minister for Seniors and Accessibility and is responsible for enforcing the AODA, and ask that this provision be strictly enforced. This section provides:

“41(2) Every conventional transportation service provider shall annually hold at least one public meeting involving persons with disabilities to ensure that they have an opportunity to participate in a review of the accessibility plan and that they are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the accessibility plan.”

Let us know if your public transit authority elsewhere in Ontario is holding a similar event this year, or did so last year. Email us at [email protected] or reply to this email.

Each year there is an impressive turnout of hundreds of people at TTC’s public forums on accessible transit. Each wants a chance at the microphone to tell their story. Unfortunately, TTC each year uses up far too much time, as much as a third of the time in some instances, making speeches on what a great job TTC says it’s doing on accessibility. We have urged TTC to keep all of those speeches down to a total of five or ten minutes, maximum, to give as much time as possible to the attendees to speak, since they made the effort to come to this event. We hope TTC will listen to this suggestion this time. They have not done so in the past despite our requests.

Under the Human Rights Tribunal’s order, all TTC Commissioners were required to attend each public forum. Since that order expired, many if not most TTC Commissioners have skipped these TTC accessible transit public forums. This is wrong. TTC chose the forum’s date well in advance. Its Commissioners should be able to make it. If hundreds of people with disabilities take the time out of their busy day to come to speak to the TTC Commissioners, the least that those TTC Commissioners can do is to themselves take the time to show up to this TTC community event and listen to the front-line experiences of riders with disabilities.

          More Details

The Globe and Mail September 21, 2019

Originally posted at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-politicians-and-planners-look-to-data-for-answers-on-e-scooters/

Cities look to data for answers on e-scooters

By CARRIE TAIT

Staff

CALGARY – Calgarians puttering around on electric scooters flock to Prince’s Island Park, a downtown gem and the river paths. Montrealers favour Old Montreal. And in Edmonton, Whyte Avenue, known for pubs and shops, is a popular destination.

A handful of Canadian cities launched e-scooter pilot projects this summer, writing bylaws with limited data. Even the most basic rule – where, exactly, are riders allowed to scoot – varies from city to city. In Edmonton, for example, scooters are allowed on streets with speed limits up to 50 kilometres an hour, but not sidewalks; in Calgary, sidewalks are in and roads are out.

Now, as summer wraps up, politicians and urban planners have information they will use to rewrite the rules for shared escooters. But the data will do far more than influence speed limits on pathways. It will affect largescale infrastructure plans – the types of projects that cost billions of dollars and take years to complete.

Shauna Brail is a professor at the University of Toronto’s urban-planning program and studies new methods of transportation – think bike-sharing programs and autonomous vehicles – in cities. She anticipates cities will adopt stricter rules around where users can leave their scooters.

“I think we’ll start to see more and more regulations around parking,” Dr. Brail said. “This is one of the biggest pieces of contention.”

Two companies dominate pilot projects in Canada: Lime and Bird. Riders use apps to find and unlock scooters, and are generally charged a flat rate to get started and then pay by the minute. Users in some cities can leave the scooters anywhere within designated boundaries; riders in other cities can park only in specific spots. Some cities allow parking on sidewalks, so long as the scooters do not obstruct the walkway.

Calgary received 62 complaints through its 311 service about abandoned or improperly parked scooters in the first nine weeks of the pilot project. Parking complaints were the second most common reason citizens turned to 311 regarding scooters, behind sidewalk conflicts.

Montreal, which launched its pilot project in August, has already taken action to thwart troublesome parking jobs. Politicians there last week announced plans to fine e-scooter and e-bike users $50 for shoddy parking and Montreal will fine the companies $100 every time a police officer or city official finds one of their respective scooters or bikes parked illegally.

Calgary approved 1,500 scooters for the pilot project launched in the middle of July. Their popularity among users outpaced the city’s expectations. As of Wednesday, riders in Calgary had made a collective 542,374 trips covering more than 1.1 million kilometres. The median trip lasts 10 minutes, according to city data.

Roughly 142,100 unique users have used the e-scooters at least once. After accounting for tourist traffic, city officials estimate this means about 10 per cent of Calgarians have gone for at least one spin. These numbers exclude privately owned e-scooters.

Calgary’s 311 data show the most common concern about escooters stems from riding on sidewalks, which is legal in the city. Concerned citizens, for example, want the scooters to slow down and want the city to crack down on riders who are inconsiderate on the sidewalks, the city said. It counts 112 submissions related to sidewalks.

The 311 data, however, also demonstrate Calgarians are adjusting to e-scooters. Since the pilot’s launch, the city service recorded 281 submissions tied to escooters. Complaints spiked around the third week of the pilot, with 68 concerns registered.

But submissions have dropped every week since, hitting and holding at 15 around weeks eight and nine.

Nathan Carswell, Calgary’s shared-mobility program co-ordinator, said the city will make changes as data flow in. Sidewalk problems, for example, may be alleviated by working with the scooter companies to lower the machines’ top speed in designated areas, such as busy downtown corridors, Mr. Carswell said.

GPS data, injury rates and the degree of conflict with pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, will help shape city infrastructure.

The information, Mr. Carswell said, provides hints on where Calgary should expand its separated bike-lane network, whether sidewalks in some areas should be widened, or whether there are areas where it would be appropriate to allow scooters on roadways, for example.

“I think they are here for the long run,” he said.

In Edmonton, which launched its pilot project in the middle of August, Mayor Don Iveson noted pedestrians, business owners and people with mobility issues have complained about users illegally riding the scooters on the sidewalk.

“It is not going well,” he said.

The mayor has also said if issues persist, Edmonton will reassess whether e-scooters are suitable in Alberta’s capital.

Eddy Lang, the department head for emergency medicine at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, is analyzing statistics related to ER and urgent-care visits related to scooters and bicycle incidents.

There have been 477 visits to Calgary’s ER and urgent-care facilities owing to scooter injuries. Fractures are the most common reason, clocking in at 121 incidents, followed by head and facial injuries, at 83 visits. Visits related to bicycle injuries far outpace scooter visits, but there are far more cyclists than scooter riders in the city.

Announcement of September 25, 2019 Federal Candidates’ Forum on the, Accessible Canada Act

Originally posted at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/accessible-canada-act-candidates-forum-tickets-71795944603

Sep 25

Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum

By Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena

Wed, 25 September 2019, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

Join us to learn more about the Accessible Canada Act and to hear directly from federal candidates on potential implementation strategies

About this Event

On June 21, 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81), received Royal Assent after passing unanimously through the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada.

The act fulfills the government’s mandate promise to introduce new accessibility legislation toward ensuring a barrier-free Canada, though no recommendations have been made to date.

To learn more about the act and its potential implications for Canadians, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Reena are hosting Accessible Canada Act: Candidates’ Forum that will serve to educate on the importance of the act, its potential outcomes and provide an opportunity to hear directly from candidates on their parties’ potential implementation strategies.

Light refreshments will be served. Kashrut observed.

If you require any special accommodations to attend the event, please send an email to [email protected] before September 20.

Announcement of the September 25, 2019 TTC Public Forum on Accessible Transit

Originally posted at http://ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp

The 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is happening this September!

On Wednesday, September 25 the 2019 Public Forum on Accessible Transit is taking place at the Beanfield Centre!

Join us to learn more about Easier Access at the TTC, Family of Services and conditional trip-matching.

For further information on accommodations, booking your trip and the livestream, please head to: http://www.ttc.ca/TTC_Accessibility/Public_Forum_on_Accessible_Transit/2019/index.jsp



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AODA Alliance Writes Ontario’s Accessibility Minister to Urge Swift Action to Implement the Onley Report – and Media Coverage of the Onley Report and of Ongoing Public Transit Barriers


Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org  [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

AODA Alliance Writes Ontario’s Accessibility Minister to Urge Swift Action to Implement the Onley Report – and Media Coverage of the Onley Report and of Ongoing Public Transit Barriers

March 11, 2019

          SUMMARY

On March 11, 2019, the AODA Alliance sent Ontario’s Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho a letter that calls for swift action to implement David Onley’s withering report on the many years of deficient implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We set out that letter below. In our letter, we identify a short list of immediate actions that the Ford Government should now take to begin its implementation of the Onley report. We will have more to say later on other measures needed to implement this report. While listing these immediate actions, we recognize that beyond them, much more than these priority items will need to be done to implement this report, and to get Ontario back on schedule to become accessible to 1.9 Ontarians with disabilities by 2025.

Below we also set out two recent news articles that cover the Onley report:

* The excellent March 8, 2019 Canadian Press article by Michelle McQuigge, posted by CBC news. this article was also run by a number of other news outlets. The Saturday, March 9, 2018 print editions of the Toronto star and the Globe and Mail each ran it but did not include the quote of AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, seen in the full article below.

* The great March 10, 2019 Toronto Star article on ongoing accessibility problems at the Toronto Transit Commission. It also refers to the Onley report, and also quotes AODA Alliance Chair David Lepofsky.

We are tweeting up a storm in the wake of the Onley report. We invite you to follow @davidlepofsky and @aodaalliance on Twitter, to retweet our tweets, and add your own comments on the Onley report in your tweets as well. If you are a Facebook user but not a Twitter user, please like the AODA Alliance’s Facebook page, and share our posts. Our tweets on Twitter all come out as well as Facebook posts.

^       MORE DETAILS

^Text of the March 11, 2019 Letter from the AODA Alliance to Minister for Accessibility and Seniors Raymond Cho

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update

United for a Barrier-Free Ontario for All People with Disabilities

www.aodaalliance.org [email protected] Twitter: @aodaalliance

March 11, 2019

To: The Hon. Raymond Cho, Minister of Accessibility and Seniors

Via Email: [email protected]

Frost Building South

6th Floor

7 Queen’s Park Cres

Toronto, ON M7A 1Y7

Dear Minister,

Re: Implementing the Final Report of the David Onley AODA Independent Review

Thank you for making public the final report of David Onley’s Independent Review of the implementation and enforcement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). We write to ask your Government to now take important steps to effectively implement this ground-breaking report.

The Onley report demonstrates in strong, clear and convincing language that the Ontario Government must now take strong new action to substantially improve the many years of flagging implementation and enforcement of the AODA. As our March 8, 2019 news release makes clear, the AODA Alliance applauds the Onley report and agrees with most of its recommendations. Those few recommendations with which we don’t agree (which we will address at a later date) are secondary, and do not take away from the core of the report.

We are gratified that the Onley report largely echoes and incorporates input that we provided to the Onley AODA Independent Review in the AODA Alliance’s January 15, 2019 brief. It also echoes and reflects input we have given to your Government. Finally, it closely parallels and builds on the findings and recommendations in the two earlier mandatory AODA Independent Reviews, the 2010 AODA Independent Review conducted by Charles Beer and the 2015 AODA Independent Review conducted by Mayo Moran.

Your Government now has the benefit of powerful and substantial unanimity among these multiple sources of expert input. The time is now for your Government to take strong action on that advice.

To begin, we ask your Government to now clearly and publicly accept the findings in the Onley report regarding the AODA’s implementation and enforcement. These findings should be the basis of the Government’s actions in the area of accessibility for over 1.9 million Ontarians with disabilities who continue to face many serious disability barriers in this province.

We also ask you to act now to implement five of the Onley report’s key recommendations. These include actions that we have earlier identified for the Government as priorities, such as  when we wrote you on July 17, 2018 and/or when we wrote Premier Ford on July 19, 2018. Premier Ford referred our letter to him back to you, so we look to you to act on all of these priorities:

  1. Please appoint a new Standards Development Committee under the AODA to address the removal and prevention of all kinds of disability barriers in the built environment. The Onley report identified this as a top priority. That Standards Development Committee should be free to address, among other things, requirements in the deficient Ontario Building Code. It should be able to address built environment in residential housing. It should also conduct the mandatory 5-year review of the 2012 Public Spaces Accessibility Standard. The Ontario Government remains in violation of the AODA, because it has not yet appointed a Standards Development Committee to conduct that mandatory review. It was obligatory to appoint that review by the end of 2017, when the former Ontario Government was still in power.
  1. Please now launch a short, focused public consultation leading to your Government’s identifying the other accessibility standards that need to be developed to ensure that the AODA leads Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.
  1. Please act now to substantially strengthen the Government’s enforcement of the AODA, which the Onley report showed to be substantially deficient and ineffective.
  1. Please launch a major reform to ensure that public money is never used to create or perpetuate disability barriers, whether as a result of public spending on infrastructure, procurement, business grants or loans, or research grants. As part of this, a major reform is desperately needed regarding how Infrastructure Ontario deals with disability accessibility needs in the projects in which it is involved. We would add to the Onley report the fact that a similar reform is desperately needed at Metrolinx when it spends billions of public dollars on public transit infrastructure.
  1. Please now implement a program to ensure that students in Ontario schools receive curriculum on accessibility for and inclusion of people with disabilities in society, and to ensure that key professional, like architects, get much-needed training on accessibility for people with disabilities.

We will later have much more to say on the Onley report’s implementation. However, whatever else might come from the Onley report, these five top priorities cry out for immediate action.

We appreciate your Government announcing last week, in the wake of its release of the Onley report, that it has just lifted the nine-month freeze on the work of the Health Care Standards Development Committee and the two Education Standards Development Committees. As you know, the AODA Alliance has been in the lead in campaigning to get that freeze lifted. We were earlier in the lead in getting the former Ontario Government to agree to create accessibility standards in the important areas of health care and education.

We urge you to get these existing advisory committees back to work as quickly as possible. The Onley report shows that Ontario is well behind schedule for reaching accessibility by 2025. The loss of these many months in the work of those Standards Development Committees made a bad situation worse.

Fortunately, you are well-positioned to quickly get these committees back to work. They and you are not starting from scratch. The members of those Standards Development Committees were all appointed under the AODA well before your Government took power. They were properly constituted under the AODA. Speaking for myself, as a duly-appointed member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and get right back to the work in which we were immersed when last spring’s election halted our work.

We would welcome a chance to meet with you to discuss action on the balance of the Onley report, but don’t want anything to hold up progress on the items listed in this letter.

Sincerely,

David Lepofsky CM, O.Ont

Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

cc: Premier Doug Ford, [email protected]

Marie-Lison Fougère, Deputy Minister of Accessibility, [email protected]

Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Accessibility Directorate, [email protected]

CBC News Online March 8, 2019

Originally posted at: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-nowhere-near-goal-of-full-accessibility-by-2025-review-finds-1.5049380

Ontario nowhere near goal of full accessibility by 2025, review finds

Report offers 15 recommendations to province’s Progressive Conservative government

Michelle McQuigge The Canadian Press Posted: Mar 08, 2019 4:08 PM ET | Last Updated:

Former lieutenant governor of Ontario, David Onley, says the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act continues to leave residents with disabilities facing daily, “soul-crushing” barriers.  (Kelda Yuen/CBC)

The accessibility law that took effect in Ontario 14 years ago and has served as a blueprint for similar legislation in other parts of Canada has fallen well short of its goals and continues to leave disabled residents facing daily, “soul-crushing” barriers, a former lieutenant governor has found.

David Onley, a wheelchair user tasked with reviewing the implementation of Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, delivered a withering indictment of nearly all aspects of the law in a report quietly tabled in the provincial legislature this week.

The scathing report said disabled residents are barred from full inclusion in the province at nearly every turn, likening some of the barriers they face to long-abolished Jim Crow laws that perpetuated racial discrimination in the United States.

He said Ontario is nowhere near realizing the goal at the heart of the act, which promises to make the province fully accessible by 2025. He said only urgent, wide-ranging action from the provincial government can put a stop to the ongoing cycle of human rights violations.

“This is a matter of civil rights, and people with disabilities are being discriminated against on a daily basis in multiple ways,” Onley said in a telephone interview. “We don’t like to use the word discrimination because it gets tossed around, but what other word describes the situation? It is discrimination.”

Onley said the most obvious manifestations of that discrimination can be found throughout Ontario’s public and private buildings, many of which have physical features that actively shut people out.

‘You don’t belong here’

Onley — Ontario’s first disabled lieutenant governor — said some personal examples include restaurants featuring automatic doors atop a flight of stairs or hotels with accessible washrooms but beds too high for him to climb into from his motorized scooter.

“For a person using a wheelchair, stairs are like a sign that says you can’t enter here. The same goes for a deaf student in a classroom without captioning or a blind woman trying to find her way in a building without accurate Braille signage,” he said in the opening chapter of his report. “The message is: you don’t belong here.”

Onley said design barriers are no different than “the signs of a bygone era in foreign countries, telling people which water fountains they could or could not use and which restaurants or buses they could or could not use.”

This is a matter of civil rights, and people with disabilities are being discriminated against on a daily basis in multiple ways.

While Onley identified built environment barriers as one of the most pressing concerns, he listed a host of other problems with the law he said the government has failed to properly address since it took effect in 2005.

Other issues included lack of enforcement, accessibility rules that are slow to be developed and even slower to be implemented, and information-technology standards that are already out of date although they haven’t been fully applied.

Some of the issues are even more fundamental, he said, citing the fact that the law does not currently define “accessibility” and leaves people across the province to come up with their own interpretations. Even the definition of “disability” is problematic, he said, saying AODA’s current language positions disability as a medical issue rather than one of social exclusion.

Clarifying those key terms is among the 15 broad recommendations Onley provided to the current Progressive Conservative government, who had frozen work by committees tasked with developing accessibility standards since taking power last June.

Others involve the government radically changing its approach. Onley urged Premier Doug Ford to lead the way in making accessibility a priority across all ministries, not just the one ostensibly handling the file.

He also urged the government to redesign the provincial education curriculum to make accessibility a focus starting as early as kindergarten and extending through the post-secondary years. He likened the efforts he wants to see with past campaigns that brought public smoking and environmental protection to greater public prominence.

Onley singled out architects as a particular target of educational efforts, noting trainees in the field learn next to nothing about inclusive design.

Other recommendations included offering tax breaks and other financial incentives to those improving accessibility in public buildings and private homes, significantly bolstering enforcement efforts, and lifting the freeze on developing new accessibility standards in areas like health care and education.

The government said it acted on the last recommendation already and will be meeting with committee heads to get work back underway.

No response to recommendations

Minister for Seniors and Accessibility Raymond Cho did not respond to Onley’s other recommendations, but thanked him for the report.

“We aim to modernize our approach to accessibility to make things easier for families, workers and businesses in today’s Ontario,” Cho said in a statement.

Accessibility advocates lauded Onley’s report, saying his “blistering” findings should be of particular concern to other Canadian jurisdictions.

David Lepofsky, chair of advocacy group AODA Alliance, said Manitoba and Nova Scotia both put legislation in place that’s weaker than Ontario’s in many respects. The federal government, he said, is poised to follow suit unless the senate makes amendments to strengthen the proposed Accessible Canada Act, the first national accessibility law in Canada’s history.

“The thing that we’ve learned, that the Onley report shows, is that just doing what Ontario did has helped, but nowhere near as much as what we need,” Lepofsky said. “(Other governments) need to learn from that and be better.”

^

Toronto Star March 10, 2019

News

Originally posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2019/03/10/a-look-at-ttc-accessibility-through-the-eyes-of-a-rider-who-uses-two-canes.html

UNEASY ACCESS

Navigating the TTC is a constant challenge for Jessica Geboers. Although provincial law requires transit stations to be fully accessible by 2025, currently only 45 of 75 TTC stations are. That is sparking worries that the deadline won’t be met

Francine Kopun Toronto Star

Jessica Geboers steps off a busy subway car at College station, a cane in each hand, and confronts her first obstacle: two flights of stairs, 10 stairs each.

The stairwell is narrow and passengers headed down the stairs stop to give her the room she needs to make her way up. On this day, at rush hour, a bottleneck forms in seconds.

Sometimes people stop to tell her that there’s an escalator – but Geboers can’t use it, because she can’t hang on to the moving handrails. She has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, affecting muscle control and coordination.

“They’re trying to be helpful and they mean well, but I’m pretty smart. I can see there is an escalator there, and I’m concentrating on not dying on these stairs,” says Geboers, 29.

Past the turnstiles she is confronted by two more flights of stairs: 14 steps and 21 steps respectively. This time the crowd bunches up behind her, infuriating a young man who bursts away from the pack and dashes around her to the top, muttering his complaint.

Making the TTC more accessible – which the transit service is legally bound to do by 2025 – can’t come soon enough for Geboers, who has a busy life that requires her to spend a lot of time on public transit. She works three days a week and attends physiotherapy appointments twice a week. She volunteers.

She rates the TTC’s accessibility as a six out of 10. “I see that they’re really trying and a good number of stations are accessible, but not as many as should be or could be,” she says.

Last week Mayor John Tory unveiled a newly installed elevator at St. Patrick station, calling it a milestone, but despite making significant progress, there are signs the TTC may be falling behind on its plan to ensure that all stations are accessible by 2025.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires the province be fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025, including transportation systems like the TTC.

The Act was passed in 2005, but, to date, only 45 of Toronto’s 75 subway stations are accessible.

In fact, the AODA has fallen well short of its goals and people with disabilities continue to face “soul-crushing” barriers, according to a report on the act tabled in the provincial legislature this week by former lieutenant-governor David Onley.

While advances have been made in the area of transportation, it remains the most important issue among people with disabilities, according to the report.

“The reason is perhaps obvious,” wrote Onley, who is disabled.

“If you can’t leave your home, there will be no job, recreation, shopping or other opportunities. Better transportation requires money and leadership.”

Among other challenges, the report points out that priority seating in some places is not working out as intended.

Seats intended for wheelchair access are being taken up by able-bodied people, baby strollers and people with grocery carts. Municipalities are urged in the report to bring in and enforce stronger rules around priority seating.

A total of 11 TTC subway stations will be under construction for accessibility by the end of 2019, but only Royal York station will be completed this year.

Only 26 of 41 objectives set out for the five-year period from 2014-18 were completed when the last status update was filed, in April. By the end of this year, 32 of 41 will be completed, according to the TTC.

The new five-year accessibility plan, covering 2019-2023, has not yet been filed.

“It’s clear that TTC needs to accelerate their work to improve accessibility of their infrastructure and service,” says Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 13 Toronto Centre), while acknowledging that the TTC has been working hard to meet the 2025 deadline.

“The year 2025 for AODA compliance is literally around the corner when it comes to major infrastructure upgrades,” she says, adding that if it does fall behind, city council and other government partners need to provide additional funding to make up for lost time.

Mayor Tory, at the launch of the elevator at St. Patrick station, seemed to agree, saying: “If by any chance we fall off track, we’re going to get back on track.”

The TTC says it has made significant progress. All TTC buses are now accessible, with low floors, ramps and seats that flip up to accommodate wheelchairs. It says all subway trains are accessible, with level boarding. Over half of 204 new low-floor accessible streetcars are in service and the rest are expected to arrive by the end of 2019. All of the older inaccessible streetcars will be decommissioned. The plan is to have elevators at all stations by 2025.

After fighting against it in court and losing, the TTC now has a system that audibly announces upcoming stops on subway trains, streetcars and buses, to assist the vision impaired. There are visual signs for the hearing impaired.

Mazin Aribi, chair of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT), which advises the TTC, says meeting the 2025 target is a delicate balance – too much construction, too fast, triggers complaints from riders.

He thinks that if the TTC continues on its accelerated plan to finish all the subway stations, the 2025 deadline will be met. But he is concerned that planned takeover of the TTC by the province could lead to delays, because the province seems to be focused on saving money and making subways accessible costs money.

“The bottom line is, we do need inclusion,” Aribi says. “It’s public transit. Every person in Toronto is entitled to use and have access.”

The cost for making a station accessible varies, according to the TTC. Sometimes as many as three elevators are required to make a station accessible. The amount of excavation work required varies. Construction costs for St. Patrick were approximately $7.5 million for one elevator. Construction began in December 2016 and the elevator went into service in September.

A second elevator was built by Amexon Development Corp. as part of a Section 37 community benefit, providing access to street level, within the footprint of a property it owns at 480 University Ave., at a cost of $3.9 million to the company. (Section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act allows developers to exceed height and density zoning regulations in exchange for contributions to neighbourhood projects.)

Several major projects, worth $615.3 million, have been budgeted in the 2018-2027 TTC capital budget, representing more than 9 per cent of the TTC’s overall capital requirements in the next 10 years.

The TTC says it is committed to finishing on time. “Not only is that deadline our commitment, it’s our obligation,” according to a statement from TTC chair Jaye Robinson’s office. Access advocate David Lepofsky, a lawyer who is blind and who fought the TTC in court to force the transit system to announce upcoming stops in streetcars and buses and subway trains, said that without dramatic reforms, the TTC will not meet the 2025 deadline.

While the focus seems to be on elevators, he says the TTC still makes design mistakes at new stations that hinder accessibility.

And the TTC already missed an earlier deadline of 2020, says Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

“Do I have concrete, specific evidence that they aren’t going to meet the plan? No I do not, and I’m not suggesting I do,” Lepofsky says. “Am I worried because of the fact that they’ve been a moving target in the past and could be again? Yes. I am basing the concern on their past conduct.”

The issue should be of concern to everyone, Lepofsky says. As people age, they are likely to suffer from impaired mobility of one form or another.

Since suffering a mild stroke two years ago, Sidonio Ferreira has become well acquainted with a flight of stairs that used to have no impact on his life, at Keele subway station.

“They took my licence away. I have to take the subway,” says Ferreira, 83, who has lived in the same neighbourhood for decades.

He and his wife, 74, struggle with the subway stairs and he says they’re not alone – many of their friends and neighbours do, too.

“So far, I can do it. But it’s very hard.”

Construction of an elevator at Keele is scheduled to begin this year, according to the TTC.



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Cost, Demand for DARTS Accessible Transit Service Continues to Grow


Executive director Mark Mindorff said eligibility requirements and service area are behind the rise News Feb 12, 2019
by Natalie Paddon The Hamilton Spectator

Mayor Fred Eisenberger wants to see city staff compare the cost of DARTS to accessible transit services in other municipalities.

The request followed a presentation by the DARTS’ CEO and executive director at Monday’s general issues committee meeting where he said the budget and demand for the door-to-door transportation service continue to rise.

“Every year we demand that you reduce your cost and we full well know that the demand for the service is going up,” Eisenberger said during the operating budget meeting. “What’s wrong with that picture?”

DARTS’ 2019 budget ask is $23 million a $4.3 million hike compared to the year prior. There were 773,000 rides completed last year compared to the 720,000 budgeted. Based on 2018 passenger registration information, the non-profit charitable organization believes it should plan for between 820,000 and 850,000 rides in 2019.

Mark Mindorff, head of the transportation service, said they are a unique system for a number of reasons, including their offering of several types of vehicles like vans and MVs (a purpose-built accessible vehicle) and serving a larger service area that includes rural communities.

Their demand for service really started to grow in 2012 when, to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), DARTS’ eligibility expanded to all passengers unable to use the HSR, he said. Eligibility is assessed by the HSR.

According to Mindorff’s presentation, this caused an increase in “frail” and “elderly” people who previously were not eligible for DARTs.

Previously, DARTs was available to people who used a wheelchair, walker or scooter, had Alzheimer’s or were on dialysis. With the change, existing users were grandfathered in.

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson questioned DARTS’ cost per trip, which is $3 like the HSR, and questioned how Hamilton has close to three times the number of passengers as Durham, Peel and York.

“We must be doing something wrong,” he said.

Some municipalities re-assess passengers on a regular basis, which is something Hamilton doesn’t do, Mindorff said. He also pointed to DARTS’ conditional eligibility, meaning some passengers are registered to use the service during bad weather only.

Ferguson also asked if riders should be allowed to go to places like Flamboro Downs, which Mindorff said is one of their more popular drop-off spots.

“We’re not policing transit,” Mindorff said.

Earlier in the meeting, DARTS user Paula Kilburn told councillors the value she sees in the service, noting she would like to see its budget increased.

“How can you measure the cost of a person’s independence and dignity?” she asked.

Mohawk College student Jordan Verner has been using DARTS since 2014.

He expressed concerns around wages paid to drivers working for DARTS’ subcontractors. Because they are paid per trip, he worried about drivers missing pickups because they are in a rush.

He asked councillors to consider the implications of a paratransit system that doesn’t receive adequate funding.

“Anybody in this room could become a DARTS user tomorrow,” he said.

Mindorff said that while DARTS is currently sitting at two complaints per 1,000 rides, there is an incentive to rush passengers when drivers are paid on a per-trip basis.

The biggest complaint they receive is for late rides, he noted.

[email protected]

905-526-2420 | @NatatTheSpec

Original at https://www.thespec.com/news-story/9171572-cost-demand-for-darts-accessible-transit-service-continues-to-grow/



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Increased Demand for Specialized Transit


The Transportation Standard of the AODA has numerous rules mandating how specialized transportation providers must operate. Many of these rules play an important role in ensuring that travellers with disabilities have equal opportunities to move around their communities. However, in practice, some specialized transportation providers are unable to obey a few of the transportation standard’s regulations. Increased demand for specialized transit makes it more difficult for providers to follow the standard’s guidelines regarding bookings and hours of service.

Specialized Transit

Bookings

The transportation standard states that providers must allow passengers to book rides on the day of travel whenever possible, or up to three hours before the end of the company’s hours of operation on the day before the day of travel. This regulation recognizes that people sometimes need to take spontaneous trips as well as planned ones. However, several providers require people to book at least three days in advance. In first-come-first-served booking systems, the routes for most busses on a given day are arranged within hours. As a result, people booking rides the day they need them do not get them.

Hours of Service

Specialized transportation providers are required to offer the same hours and days of service as local conventional transportation providers. This requirement ensures that people who always use specialized transit can travel during all the days and times that people using conventional transit can travel on. Providers try to obey this requirement by being open late into the evening. However, they often have fewer vehicles operating during evening hours. As a result, people taking trips in the evenings may be unable to book rides home.

Accessibility is for Everyone

Increased demand for specialized transit will continue. As the Ontario population ages, more and more people will need this service. They will need providers that can obey the transportation standard, a valuable element of the AODA. Adequate funding for more vehicles and more drivers will help to make transportation providers better able to uphold this portion of the Standard.

 



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