Complying with an order of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Toronto Transit Commission held its first of three public forums on accessible transit for people with disabilities late last month.
But even before the meeting got under way, the TTC showed just how out of touch it is on accessibility issues – distributing guidebooks and questionnaires to people entering the room, only the material wasn’t available in large print or Braille.
Sad for a meeting held at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
It was made very clear to the TTC three weeks ago that there would be a need for captioning for hard of hearing participants. It was not provided.
The turnout was overwhelming.Upwards of 500 with a whole host of disabilities packed the hall – an awful lot of them very angry after many years of frustration.
But at the biggest, best opportunity to date for the city’s disability community to have their voices heard directly by those who matter at the TTC, commissioners and senior managers in attendance took up almost half the two-hour session patting themselves on the back.
Many in the audience who wanted to speak didn’t get a chance to. Myself included.
I’d been hoping to ask why the TTC continues to put unsafe Wheel-Trans vehicles on the road.
For several months now, buses have been going up in smoke as a result of problems with the fan belt and compressor in the engine. To make sure vehicles can be evacuated safely in the event of fire, capacity on the buses has been reduced from four wheelchairs to three.
I contacted TTC chair Adam Giambrone after the meeting for an explanation.
I’m surprised to discover that the TTC has had the cash to upgrade its Wheel-Trans fleet for more than two years, but, according to Giambrone, hasn’t been able to find a quality supplier until now. Giambrone says 180 new buses are on the order paper.
In the meantime, problem vehicles in the fleet have been retrofitted to prevent them from bursting into into flames. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Maybe you weren’t at last month’s meeting.