TTC owes blind lawyer apology - Metro US

TTC owes blind lawyer apology

Rider won case for bus drivers to call out stops

“Justice Alvin Rosenberg pointed out many operators already call out every stop — and the TTC has officially commended some for it.”

Rider David Lepofsky has won a second time at Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal concerning the calling of stops.

Two years ago, the tribunal ordered the TTC to announce all subway stations, and last week ruled the transit agency must likewise ensure all surface stops are audibly announced. Lepofsky — who is a lawyer, as well as blind — has neither sought nor received financial compensation and has spent many unpaid hours putting forth these human rights complaints. Bravo.

After more than a decade of TTC pledges to provide automatic announcements aboard subway trains, the June 2005 ruling ordered the TTC to immediately have train operators call out stations. Lepofsky then asked the same policy be applied to surface routes. After hearing from both sides, the tribunal again agreed with the TTC rider, and last week gave the agency 30 days to comply — drivers will be required to call every stop.

Since the first ruling, the TTC has renewed its efforts to equip every train, bus and streetcar with automated recordings, which commission chair Adam Giambrone says should be in place by the end of this year.

Lepofsky states he did not ask for the agency to spend money on special equipment, instead pointing out train and surface vehicles have long had public address devices for drivers to speak directly to riders.

In the recent case, the TTC argued it would be dangerous to announce all stops because drivers have other duties to perform — primarily the safe operation of the bus. However, it has long been commission policy for drivers to call out major intersections. Despite being an ages-old part of the transit operator’s job, the practice became erratic in recent decades.

Why? It’s one thing to have to memorize hundreds of stops — especially when drivers switch routes — but main streets are not a similar challenge.

The recent hearings also revealed the TTC had required all surface stops be announced during inclement weather or when passengers might have trouble seeing outside. Even further disputing the “safety” excuse, Justice Alvin Rosenberg pointed out many operators already call out every stop — and the TTC has officially commended some for it.

So why did management not, years ago, take the low-cost, low-tech route of ensuring operators make announcements — and thereby avoid losing two human rights rulings? Was there a fear of somehow antagonizing employees? It turns out drivers were not formally asked whether they had a problem with expanding the practice of calling stops, and, to my knowledge, union officials never opposed the idea.

After all these years of delays, plus the time taken by the tribunal cases, the TTC owes David Lepofsky an apology.


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