The TTC’s current plan leaves 17 stations inaccessible in 2025, and provides no commitment that these stations will ever be accessible.
In the 2010 municipal election, mayoral candidate George Smitherman took a tour in a wheelchair with Peter Athanasopoulos to test the accessibility on the TTC.
By: Peter Athanasopoulos Published on Wed Sep 10 2014
Everyone including people with disabilities, seniors, families and visitors deserves access to transit in Toronto. In a city preoccupied with transportation, some residents and visitors are unable even to access our existing transit system and others struggle with managing due to inaccessibility.
Most of us never think about how we will likely require universal access at some point in our lives if not for us, then for a loved one. As baby boomers age, more than 20 per cent of our population will be seniors. Seniors are more likely to require measures such as elevators to get around and maintain their independence and quality of life.
In 1990, the TTC set a goal to make all subway stations accessible. Eventually the TTC committed to full station accessibility by 2020. Subsequently it introduced a new “target” of 2024. Three years ago, the TTC revealed it would only achieve subway/RT accessibility by 2025, the year mandated by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Sadly, this spring the TTC reneged on its commitment to full accessibility. The TTC revealed it intends to contravene the law. It has no intention of making all stations accessible. Its current plan leaves 17 stations inaccessible in 2025, and provides no commitment that these stations will ever be accessible. After 35 years the job will not be done.
How do the mayoral candidates feel about this? Why is it so easy for a government-funded organization to plan to break the law? Why do I matter less because I can’t walk down a flight of stairs?
The TTC has made other promises. For instance, its 2010 plan identified 10 stations to be retrofitted from 2011 to 2013. In the end, elevators were installed at only four stations. In the preceding three years, no stations were made accessible. Each year plans are revised and dates set back further.
What is the TTC promising to complete in the future? According to its latest plan a total of 17 stations will be retrofitted by 2020. How can we believe this remarkable based on its track record of slow progress and broken promises? How will the candidates hold the TTC accountable?
Accessibility is good for everyone, from a parent with a stroller, to a commuter carrying a package or with a sprained ankle, to a person with a disability who statistically is more likely to rely on public transit for work, medical appointments, shopping and leisure. The TTC is also more cost-effective, timely and flexible than Wheel-Trans as the latter’s ridership swells with the aging population.
Improvements such as ramped buses are celebrated, but it isn’t enough to leave the job incomplete. Nor does it make sense to pay more in tomorrow’s dollars for things that should have been invested in already.
We believe Toronto can be a city that truly embraces everyone. Let’s not contravene the law. Plans should be more than paperwork.
For many of us with disabilities, decades of our lives pass by as we wait for accessible transit. For others who don’t need barrier-free access today, we hope it will be there when they need it.
If elected, what will the mayoral candidates do to address TTC accessibility? How will they accelerate the pace of retrofitting TTC stations and ensure compliance with the accessibility act?
We look forward to hearing from the candidates and sharing their responses online with our members and supporters.
Peter Athanasopoulos is Manager of Public Policy and Government Relations for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.
Reproduced from http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/09/10/where_do_mayoral_candidates_stand_on_accessible_transit.html