TTC must make accessibility a priority
Lately, there's been a lot of talk about what you would and wouldn't have seen on the TTC 10 to 15 years ago. Here's something you probably wouldn't have seen: passengers using wheelchairs - myself included.
My first memories of riding the subway with my mom when I still used a stroller include a lot of stairs. So when I started going out by myself, I relied on Wheel-Trans, which is infamous for being unreliable and running behind schedule. One of my first rides on accessible transit was to Scarborough Town Centre with a friend. I fell so in love with the freedom that the rest is history!
As it is now, I find it fairly easy to get around the city. Sometimes the elevators are at stations close enough to each other that if one isn't working, I can use the elevator at the next station without too much inconvenience.
But it is very frustrating that the elevators seem to be out of service so often. Once, I had an important appointment and got off at Broadview station. I called the Lift Line - an automated telephone line that tells passengers which elevators are out of order - and it didn't say anything about Broadview. But, of course, one of the elevators was out of service when I got to the station. I felt stuck and may not have made it to my appointment had it not been for the kind strangers who lifted my wheelchair up the stairs. (My wheelchair is electric and weighs a couple of hundred pounds!)
All current subway stations were supposed to have been retrofitted with elevators and other accessibility features by 2020, but due to budget constraints, that deadline has been pushed back to 2024.
As well, I find that buses are pretty easy to use because many of them have low floors that fold out. The TTC says all bus routes will be designated accessible in 2011. Streetcars, however, are a different matter. The new fleet of accessible vehicles will be phased in starting in 2012, but unfortunately isn't expected to be completed until 2018!
It's not only people with disabilities who benefit from accessibility. People with strollers, people carrying heavy loads and people who are just tired would all benefit from a more accessible TTC.
While it is on the right track, it is time for the TTC to do even better by making more funding available so that the city can fully accessible and inclusive as soon as possible.