Ialmost choked last week when i read in NOW that the TTC thinks it's one of North America's most accessible systems.
What bull! As someone who previously sat on the TTC's advisory board for accessible transportation, I know that, with the exception of the expensive Wheel-Trans service, which is excellent and was developed because of the failure of the system as a whole, the TTC doesn't rate.
Along with Boston's, which may well be the worst for the disabled user, ours is languishing at the bottom. To illustrate my point, let's look at streetcars, which make up most of the downtown fixed routes.
When I was on the board, one of the first things I asked was "Why can't streetcars be accessible?" I was told emphatically by TTC staff that it was impossible, which is TTC-speak for "It would cost too much."
Being a logical individual who has always assumed nothing was impossible, I went to San Francisco, a city that also depends heavily on streetcars. Theirs are accessible, and not just new ones, but even the antique cars that run on the new F line, which serves the entire waterfront to the Castro district.
Big bucks to do it? No! All they did was make their platforms bi-level. One part is at street level, for regular users, and the second is a ramp and raised platform for wheelchair users that puts them level with the streetcar door. The driver then assists the wheelchair user by putting a metal ramp (cost $50) over the steps. Obviously, the seats inside are redesigned to provide room (easy enough) for wheelchairs, and, voila, the wheelchair user is riding a streetcar. It's not rocket science.
Now let's look at the retrofit program for subway stations in short, a miserable fiasco. We told the TTC when it was being planned several years ago that unless the commission was prepared to spend the necessary money to retrofit the entire system, it shouldn't even think of calling it accessible.
Which, of course, with great fanfare it claims to be. This is reprehensible, considering the few stations on the Yonge line that are accessible, and morally bankrupt. To ask someone to plan a trip based on a handful of stations with lifts is beyond illogical.
What the TTC doesn't want to admit is that some stations will never be retrofitted because of their older design and infrastructure. These limitations are why the retrofitted stations have elevators in obscure parts of the platform. I won't even discuss the poor signage that marks them.
If you want to test my theory, stand anywhere at the intersection of College and University and see if you can spot the accessible station entrance.
The TTC argues that this situation isn't its fault, that it's an old system and the TTC is doing the best it can.
Of course, a visit to the tube in London, England, reveals stations built 80 years ago with elevators.
The unavoidable question is why spend money on accessible buses if the rider can't use half the system? And, of course, this may be why we, not Moscoe, et al., can count on one hand the number of patrons in wheelchairs who currently use the damn things.
A further look at TTC spending and "Where did the money go?" for useful retrofits reveals a history of waste. More than $1 billion was spent on the Sheppard subway a line that few use and that a consultant told the city not to build. But it does have lovely accessible elevators.