The fallout continues from the second Human Rights Tribunal decision against the TTC.
After losing a first case over announcing subway stations two years ago, the transit agency has made sure train riders are alerted to the next stop. This summer, the tribunal ruled once more in favour of blind lawyer David Lepofsky, who said similar announcements should also occur on surface routes.
The TTC was required to ensure bus and streetcar operators call every stop, even as efforts were speeded up to provide automatic announcements.
System-wide installation should be complete within months, but the commission’s burden is not ending. The final decision of tribunal Justice Alvin Rosenberg was delivered two weeks ago, and it has harsh words as well as further requirements for the commission.
He wrote, “The TTC should have asked themselves many years ago, what can we do to help? How can we accommodate these visually impaired patrons? Instead, they resisted with all means at their disposal.”
A Toronto municipal committee has now recommended the city’s auditor review the $450,000 spent by the TTC on the two cases.
The displays and recordings aboard vehicles are a welcome aid to many riders — but getting to this point has been tough.
Could the controversy have been avoided if the agency had instead worked with Lepofsky, perhaps through its long-standing accessibility committee?
Hard to say at this point, but it’s clear the TTC will have to develop an even more proactive way of dealing with these issues.
According to Rosenberg, not only will transit commissioners themselves have to take an educational program “on the obligation of the TTC to persons with disabilities,” but within six months they must convene the first of what will be annual public forums on accessibility.
This recommendation should be taken on as a high priority, not only by every transit service in the province, but across Canada. We must address a whole range of physical infrastructure and operational needs that can make transit easier to access and figure out how and when they might be put in place.
The TTC has spent hundreds of millions installing elevators, buying low-floor buses and taking other measures — and yet was still laid low over the way it serves customers on a day-to-day basis.
Other GTA agencies, and Queen’s Park, should pay special attention, including to a small protest planned for Friday at Toronto City Hall. Called “Make It Accessible,” the 4 p.m. rally may show how deeply the emotions go on this issue.
You can find out more about this event — as well as tonight’s “Fix The 501” forum about streetcar delays — on Facebook.com.