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TTC hopes to make system disability-friendly by 2017

Meeting set for Tuesday to get public input

May 15, 2008 01:27 PM

The Toronto Transit Commission is embarking on a plan to dramatically boost its accessibility to people with disabilities, hoping to make the entire system accessible by 2017.

And the first step, according to TTC Chair Adam Giambrone (Ward 18, Davenport), is to take the plan to the public.

“Right now, we are set to be fully accessible by the year 2020, but we could move faster,” Giambrone told a briefing on the accessible services plan Wednesday, May 14.

Members of the public interested in helping the TTC figure out how specifically to get there are invited to a meeting Tuesday, May 20 at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, 1929 Bayview Ave.

There, TTC staff will be presenting both a primer on what the commission has already done to make buses, subways and streetcars more accessible to the disabled and the plans for the future.

The commission has been purchasing low-floor buses since 1996 and as of this month, 1,281 buses, or 79 per cent of the fleet, are accessible. By 2010, 400 new accessible buses will come online, making the entire fleet accessible.

Streetcars are more problematic - none of the current fleet are accessible and they can’t be retrofitted. The TTC has currently put out a request for proposal for new, low-floor streetcars. If approved, that would see accessible low-floor light rail vehicles online between 2011 and 2018.

Currently, the TTC has 28 subway stations that are fully accessible and is undergoing a $348 million renovation program of four stations a year that will have all 69 stations accessible by 2020. That will mean elevators; automated doors; accessible fare gates; clearer paths; and better signage.

Giambrone said the 2020 goal is less ambitious than the commission would like.

“The TTC would like to move faster in terms of our accessibility. We believe that we could be fully accessible in all 69 of our subway stations by 2017, but we need the help from the provincial government at the rate of about $9.5 million a year,” Giambrone said.

That would mean a total of six station retrofits a year.

The TTC is also looking at increasing the capacity of Wheel-Trans services, which currently are unable to accommodate about two per cent of the 50,000 eligible users of the door-to-door service.

Giambrone likened the plan to the Transit City plan launched by the TTC - without funding - in March of 2007.

“Transit city at the time was a plan for $6 billion and was unfunded in March of 2007. But here we are a year later with a plan to move forward,” Giambrone said. “Now we’re seeing us move forward in this arena.”

The meeting at the CNIB takes place from 7 to 9 p.m.