Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TTC Suggestions for Alternate Routes for Wheelchair Users: Does this Make Sense?

In September 2011 I was in Toronto with my manual wheelchair and wanted to take the subway from Union Station to Dundas St. by the Eaton's Centre. Being from out-of-town, I had no idea the lift at Union Station was out-of-order, so I didn't think to call Wheel-Trans to book the trip by specialized transit. I had no idea this decision would mean I would be stranded and I would have to forgo shopping on that particular trip to Toronto.

What happened was I went to the lift and saw a sign that said it was out of service. It then had a sign on the wall that named 2 alternate routes that I could take. One was to go over to Brookfield Place, press the buzzer, and hope someone was free to run the lift. The other was to get back on the subway, go north 2 stops to either Osgoode or Queen St., get off and either wheel back or take the Route 6 (Bay Bus) back. I could do neither with my manual wheelchair. That was the end of one plan, at least for that trip to Toronto. So much for Toronto enjoying my tourism/visitor dollars.

When I got home to Kingston I was still trying to sort out and understand what I just read about alternative routes because it didn't make sense that a wheelchair user would have to take the subway so far away and then be expected to wheel back to Union Station. I decided I had to look the instructions up online, to make sure I was reading it right. Sure enough, I was. What I found are the instructions that are listed below in this blog.

After reading this, please ask yourself the question: If you had to push a wheelchair by hand, do you think you could wheel 1 km back to Union Station from the Osgoode or Queen St. Station? What if your battery was running low on your Electric Wheelchair - perhaps the colour showing was red and it was flashing (a clear warning to us who understand the symbols that we're running out of juice). Do you not believe you would be slightly panicked if you got to the subway station and read that the TTC was expecting you to wheel further than most people are willing to walk these days?

My hope is by writing this, that the powers that be at the TTC, will see it and perhaps think a little more carefully about what they're asking their disabled passengers to do when they're servicing (or in this case, replacing) their lift.

Why not put a sign up that directs disabled passengers to call an accessible taxi company or Wheel-Trans to get them from point A to point B instead and then pay the bill? That would be called accommodation.

The AODA (Accessibility for Ontarian's With Disabilities Act) states that people with disabilities must be accommodated. So does the Ontario Human Rights Code. What it says is that reasonable accommodations must be made. I would argue that, in this case, reasonable accommodations are NOT being made. What the TTC has suggested is, in my opinion, something that is in complete violation of our right to equal/equitable access to public transportation in Toronto.

Thank you for reading. I also ask that if you agree this doesn't make sense, that you please contact a member of the Toronto city council to complain.

Below is a copy of the directive given to wheelchair passengers to get one the subway while the lift is out for service. This information was quoted from: http://www3.ttc.ca/Subway/Stations/Union/Accessible_Alternative.jsp

Union – Alternate Route
This station is accessible

The Lift at Union Station from street to concourse has been taken out of service as part of the start of construction for the Union Station Second Platform Project.

There is a non-powered door that is regularly in the open position, allowing access from street to concourse level via a non-TTC lift located in the Brookfield Place. Call Brookfield Place at 416-777-6462 for lift status.


If this elevator is not in service, this is the accessible alternative to the Concourse (to Street)
  • Board a Northbound Train to Queen Station or Osgoode Station.
  • Use the accessible features of Queen Station or Osgoode Station to access the street.
  • Proceed to Union Station (approximately 1km).
  • The accessible, Southbound 6 Bay bus can be boarded at the Northwest corner of Queen Street and Bay Street.
  • Exit bus at Front Street to access the street. See map for station locations.



Important: To avoid any fare-related issues, before leaving the paid area, advise the collector you will need an emergency transfer to access Queen or Osgoode Station.

There is a non-powered door that is regularly in the open position, allowing access to street via a non-TTC lift located in the Brookfield Place.

Use the accessible features via Brookfield Place to access street, as shown.

Call Brookfield Place at 416-777-6462 for lift status.
  • Proceed to Queen Station or Osgoode Station (approximately 1 km).
  • The accessible, northbound 6 Bay bus can be boarded at the southeast corner of Front Street d Bay Street.
  • Exit bus at Queen Street to access Queen Station or Osgoode Station. See map for station locations.
Does this make sense to anyone - asking a person who uses a wheelchair to either take the bus or take the subway up 2 stops and then wheel back 1 km? I couldn't do it in my manual wheelchair, that's for sure.

Please read my other blogs:
Accessibility: http://www.wheelchairdemon.blogspot.com
Health: http://www.wheelchairdemon-health.blogspot.com

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