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Disability Rights Activist Still Waiting For a Fully Accessible Transit System

By John Bonnar
December 22, 2010

Anne Abbott (centre) spoke at Monday’s rally calling for a free and fully accessible public transit system. Photo: John Bonnar

For nine months, Anne Abbott waited for the Toronto Transit Commission to fix the elevator at the Yonge and Bloor subway station in downtown Toronto so she and other disabled commuters could get to work, attend school, visit friends and be active members of their communities.

From April to December, the disabled artist who has cerebral palsy couldn’t use the elevator.

“It took the busiest shopping time of the year for the TTC to actually do something about this situation,” said Abbott at Monday’s rally and leafleting
action for a free and accessible public transit system in Toronto.

“And it wasn’t because the TTC actually cares about making their services more accessible. If they actually cared about the needs of people with disabilities or had any respect for us at all, then 60 per cent of subway stations and 40 per cent of buses would not be inaccessible.”

Two years ago when Abbott was trying to get her wheelchair off a subway, her front wheel got stuck in the gap between the platform and the train.

“Why don’t you use Wheel-Trans,” yelled the subway operator.

“Excuse me, but I thought we were supposed to be members of society too,” said Abbott at Monday’s rally. “I’m sure he wouldn’t have been so rude if it were anybody else. And isn’t Ontario supposed to be accessible by 2025?”

Abbott said Wheel-Trans has to be booked one day in advance. There is no same-day service or bookings several days in advance. And you’re not always guaranteed a return trip.

“It’s ridiculous and something people have been complaining about for years,” she said.

Abbott encouraged her supporters to plan rallies at every broken down elevator in the subway system until the TTC fixes them all.

In the meantime, a sign was posted at another elevator at the Yonge and Bloor station saying it would be out of service starting January 10.

“I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t be a top priority for the TTC,” said Abbott.

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