Customer Information and Customer Service
Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2016 Public Forum regarding Customer Information and Customer Service. These suggestions were submitted during the meeting, on comment forms, and in comments to TTC Customer Service. Customer comments are accompanied by a summary of the current status of each issue.
Customer Education on Accessibility
"TTC needs to educate the public on proper seat etiquette, getting up from seats, knapsacks hitting people, etc."
"Is TTC going to create an advertising campaign to teach the general public about TTC etiquette and letting people with mobility devices on first?"
"The 'Handbook for Accessible Travel' is out of date and requires revision."
"Please provide badges to people who are pregnant or have invisible disabilities: look to London."
We agree that more education for our customers is needed, and an etiquette campaign is planned for 2017 to raise specific behaviours such as these.
Regarding the Handbook for Accessible Travel, it will be revised to reflect the most current information, and a new version is expected to be made available in 2017.
With respect to badges, ACAT is currently advising TTC on means to allow customers to convey that they have invisible disabilities. We hope to have more information available in the near future.
Better Information At Stops
"It would be extremely useful to have the streetcar platform marked in a way that indicates an approximation as to where the ramp will be. Perhaps paint the area blue and add the wheelchair symbol."
"Place directional arrows on the streetcar platforms indicating which way to exit the platform. If the mobility vehicle turned in the incorrect direction, it is very difficult to turn the vehicle 180 degrees into the correct direction."
"TTC does great job with large crowds during rerouting but it'd be best to have ASL interpreters on site, at least at busiest spots."
"At the Union Station streetcar boarding area, there is a sign indicating the arrival times of 509 and 510 streetcars. It would be very beneficial if the new streetcar were identified on that sign. For example, if a new streetcar is arriving, place the letter "L" next to the number - 509L - 9 minutes. I would be able to better able to plan my trip if I know when the new streetcar is arriving at Union."
Thank you for the feedback; we will assess the possibility of making these changes in 2017.
It is not practical to have ASL interpreters readily available for subway closures or surface route diversions; however, starting in late 2017, Station Attendants will be introduced at subway stations. These staff will be equipped with tablets and able to type information to communicate if needed.
We will look into making streetcar accessibility information more readily available using passenger information displays.
Better Information On Vehicles
"I'm hard of hearing, and one of my biggest concerns is that on the TTC, especially the subway system, we have all kinds of announcements going on within the train. However, the LED screens that are in the new cars only say to listen to the announcements. I'm hoping you can appreciate the irony of a sign that says listen to the announcements."
"The communication announcements in the subway are very bad. We don't understand what is being said."
"Today I got on an Exhibition streetcar, but was not told I would have to get off and take a shuttle bus."
"The Priority Seating signs on TTC buses are at eye level are placed for someone sitting. They need to be at eye level for someone standing."
"Why did the TTC install new 'Doors will open on the left/right' audible announcements on the new Toronto Rocket trains? Some people sit facing the rear, so which side the doors open on differ."
"Door opening side announcements should be made earlier as I need the maximum amount of time to maneuver and ask people to move out of my way to get out of the train."
"When there is a problem on the subway, it would be nice if the communication department from the TTC could inform the bus drivers ahead of time so they can inform us, the passengers, that there's a problem with the subways so we can make quick decisions on how to take other routes to get to where we are going."
We are working toward being able to provide announcement text on passenger information displays wherever possible and are pursuing the technological changes required to do so. We do check subway cars when they are taken out of service so that nobody is left behind. We have also been working to improve the audibility of platform announcements by replacing speakers and simplifying messaging. We also hope to upgrade the public address system in the near future.
Supervisor staff have been reminded of informing to our operators the importance of the shuttle service and accommodation.
Each bus design is slightly different and only has so many places for Priority Seating decals; however, staff will assess opportunities to make changes going forward.
Door opening side announcements are provided so that seniors and others with limited mobility can prepare in advance to exit the train. "Left" and "right" directional information is provided in relation to the direction of travel of the train. This information is provided in audible format to meet our corporate commitment under the AODA to provide information in audible and visual formats. That said, we will be reviewing all on board announcements with customers to make sure that they are as effective as possible.
We are currently upgrading technology on buses to allow us to communicate service alert information to customers using bus and streetcar routes as appropriate.
Customer information by mail
"Is there a newsletter that sends out updates about consultations, developments, and other items?"
There is a newsletter for Wheel-Trans customers, however, due to budget constraints, we are unable to send hard copy newsletters to TTC conventional transit customers about items of general interest.
Customer information by phone
"Suppose I have a doctor's appointment, or want to be at a particular at a particular time, who do I phone? I am 80+ years old and I have no internet."
"There should be no way a person should sit by their phone waiting for at least 15 minutes or more, listening to music (the on-hold music), just to find out the best route, for a bus, or to find out when are the next 3 scheduled buses. Sometimes the representatives are rude and they raise their voices."
Self-serve, automated information regarding routes is available to our customers by calling 416-393-4636 (INFO). Schedules can also be found online on our website at www.ttc.ca. You can also pick up a TTC Ride Guide at any subway Collector booth.
For customers who would like to speak with a Customer Information agent, the average wait time is between 30-60 seconds. It would be extremely unusual for someone to have to wait 15 minutes before reaching an agent. That said, on days when there may be a service disruption, or at the beginning of a board period where there have been significant routing changes announced, customers may have to wait longer to connect with us. Wait times are generally shortest if you call us outside of our peak periods, after 10 a.m. or before 3 p.m.
All of our Customer Information agents are trained and should provide you with friendly and helpful service. We monitor our calls for coaching purposes and provide our agents with regular feedback to recognize them for their good work, and to point out any opportunities for improvement. We hope you will accept our apologies for your past experience and hope your next experience calling our Customer Information centre is more positive.
Better Information in Subway Stations
"Tell us well ahead if train/bus is going out of service, so riders can plan options before it is too late."
"It is a major problem when elevators and escalators stop functioning. Information is critical in these instances."
"When the subways are down, posters should be placed at subway stations quickly so that we can see them visibly."
We will soon be providing information about the destination of next subway train(s) on passenger information displays and pre-boarding announcements. All buses and streetcars are now equipped with external route announcement system in addition to the existing destination signs. Although unanticipated short turns can happen, we are attempting to minimize them and will provide as much notice as possible.
We are working on ensuring digital signs (Station Information Signs) are placed at as many station entrances as possible to provide service information before you pay your fare. Elevator status is now posted at the bottom of passenger information displays using a distinctive blue banner. We are implementing an information system that will relay elevator status in real time.
Better Information on the TTC Website
"Make it easier to navigate the TTC website (e.g. interactive subway map) so that I can easily locate where on the platform the elevator or escalator is located at the station I am getting off at (e.g. next to subway car number 3)."
We are in the process of a complete redesign of ttc.ca which uses a very old and limited content management tool. The new site should launch by the end of 2017. However, please note that elevator and escalator location information is currently available online for each accessible subway station. Find your station at Schedules and Maps, search for your station, and then click on the Station Description tab.
Better information for Wheel-Trans Customers
"When is GPS tracking for Wheel-Trans coming for customers?"
"Make it mandatory that new clients (and any no shows) take part in a class on do's and don'ts of Wheel-Trans system."
"At hospitals, please provide literature to patients to inform them about applying for Wheel-Trans. No one told me until after I had surgery that I qualified"
As part of the Wheel-Trans 10-Year Strategy, TTC will be exploring various technology improvements that may enhance the customer experience and improve communications between customers and Wheel-Trans.
The Wheel-Trans team is also exploring what information (i.e. the do's and don'ts) do we need to communicate to our new customers, and will be producing a revised customer handbook in 2017.
Wheel-Trans has recently sent out communication to our major health care partners on how to apply for service when they have a patient in hospital, whether for emergency purposes or planned procedures.
Better customer service
"Bus drivers should pick up passengers using wheelchairs first at the bus stop."
"Buses get filled while driver lets everyone else on first. No room to go in with walker/canes."
"If I want to board a 506 streetcar at any designated 506 streetcar stop, can I expect the operator to help me in boarding and alighting?"
"When I came to Canada in the 1960s, if more than one bus was at an intersection, the buses would wait for passengers to transfer. What's one minute to spare? Why do bus drivers leave when they see a passenger running for a bus and are right there?"
Operators will ask customers to allow customers using mobility devices to board the bus first. However, Operators will not ask customers already on the bus to get off the bus to provide room for a customer with a mobility device who wants to board. We are constantly working to address crowding issues through changes to the schedule which may include adding additional service to meet the demand. We recently communicated with all Operators and Supervisors on the use of accessible stops and deployment of the ramp. We will continue to reinforce the requirements and educate on the needs of customers using mobility devices.
Our policy and procedures allow for streetcar Operators discretion to assist where possible, however, the Operator may also have physical constraints which may not allow for assistance to be provided to the customer.
Bus Operators are trained to accommodate any customer who is intending to use the service. There may be some cases where an Operator does not see an intending customer but this should not be the norm. However, depending on the time of day or frequency of service, this practice may not be in the best interests of other users of the road.
Better training: bus / streetcar / subway
"If all TTC buses are kneeling or have ramps, why are passengers using buses along Eglinton Ave having to actually jump off the bus. It can be very painful for some of us."
"Bus drivers have to be asked to kneel bus even when disability is clear to see."
"If using assisted walking devices, have buses stop at same location each stop."
"Bus drivers are moving off when seniors are not yet seated."
"Drivers should have knowledge of specific disabilities and treat customers accordingly."
"TTC should put an anti-ableism policy in place that would look at attitudinal training, interacting with consumers, and dealing with people, disabled people whether that's on the telephone, whether that's at the station, the cashiers, etc."
"Are able-bodied individuals obligated to give up their seat if they are seated in priority seating? How is this enforced?"
"I pushed the blue wheelchair ramp button on a low-floor streetcar, but the driver was unable to get the ramp to open."
Operators are trained to lower the bus at all times, however, the ramp should be lowered for any customers who requests it. Operators are trained to align both the front and rear doors with the curb when servicing a stop on the street or when parking on a platform at a station. Operators are trained to be aware of the risk to safety that results when a customer is forced to step too far from the bus to reach the curb or vice versa. They are also educated on the difficulty some customers experience when forced to step up or down too great a distance to enter or exit the vehicle. In situations when aligning with the curb is impossible (e.g., cars parked too close to the stops, snow banks, construction). Operators are instructed to proceed to the first available, safe location for boarding and alighting customers. Operators are trained to ensure they maneuver their bus, whether braking, accelerating or turning, in a manner that keeps their customers safe. Operators are trained to wait for all customers who appear to be unsteady on their feet to be seated or standing firmly and holding a stanchion before putting the bus in motion. Bus Operators should be waiting for all customers including seniors and people using mobility devices to be in place before moving the vehicle. If this is not the case, please report the bus number, date and time to TTC Customer Service and we will address the issue directly with the Operator.
All Operators are trained to accommodate customers with disabilities; however, sometimes a disability is not visible to an Operator. That being said, the training centre spends time during initial training and recertification classes to address these types of concerns.
The blue seats are intended for customers with a disability, which could be visible or not. Operators are required to ask customers occupying the blue seats if they would be kind enough to make a seat available. However, a customer already occupying a blue seat is not obliged to vacate the seat. In fact, this customer may have a disability which is not visible and, therefore, they also may require a blue seat. When someone declines to vacate a seat, Operators cannot make them comply.
It is a requirement that all low-floor streetcar operators are trained in ramp procedures. Unfortunately, it is possible that the ramp was not functioning due to mechanical difficulties on this occasion.
Better training: Wheel-Trans
"Partnering taxi organizations drivers do not always assist customers. I am not happy with service."
"I'm blind. A lot of drivers still do not announce themselves as Wheel-Trans for me. They will just say hi or are you ready to go or they might use my name, but I still don't know for sure that it's Wheel-Trans there or if it's somebody just passing by."
"I also would like to see something done about identification because I have encountered a number of unpleasant situations with the some of the drivers of the contracted vehicles."
"When the drivers rock our chairs back and forth, or any mobility aids, if they do it too hard and lock it too tight, that can wreck the device."
"When boarding Wheel-Trans, driver should assist us by pushing our chairs "front-facing" and "in reverse" to exit bus (not front facing) as it is dangerous."
We work with the taxi contractors to ensure training is conducted and service is identical across all providers. ACAT will be auditing and monitoring the training being delivered. We will deal with specific cases as they are identified.
We will also remind and send out a notice that Drivers must follow the procedures at pick-ups, must announce their arrival, customer name and registration number and confirm destination.
We will send a reminder to all operators regarding proper procedures for boarding and de-boarding our customers who use mobility devices as well as securement procedures. Please report to Wheel-Trans any specific concerns with your trips so that we can investigate.
Fares for people with disabilities
"A senior or student has a Metropass discount but not a person with a disability."
Toronto City Council and the TTC Board have recently approved a low income transit pass program as part of the Transit Fare Equity initiative. More information will be available in 2017. The program is expected to start in 2018.
"I am scooter-bound. Adjustments need to be made to fare turnstiles in subway stations. The wide gate lane entrance does not allow for senior tickets to be used, only tokens and Metropass. Because of this, I need to pay through the fare booth, back out with the scooter, and use the wide gate lane. Very inconvenient."
"How can I top up a PRESTO card if I have no computer and cannot get to a subway station?"
"I think that looking at communication, some people can't communicate readily with the cashier, so it be would good to have something visual that could say X number of tokens could be purchased for so much money, and that you could point, you could do something that was visual as opposed to having auditory communication only for the cashiers when buying purchasing passes or tokens."
TTC will be phasing out seniors tickets, tokens and TTC passes and customers will eventually be required to purchase a PRESTO card. The timing for eliminating tickets, tokens and TTC passes from the TTC is still being worked on and will be communicated when it is available. If you regularly use a TTC subway station that has PRESTO or ride a bus route that has PRESTO, than you may want to consider switching to a PRESTO card with a senior concession on it. Concessions can be applied at the TTC's Customer Service Centre at Davisville Station. There are a limited number of pre-loaded senior PRESTO cards for sale at select Gateway Newstands outlets in various TTC subway stations.
View information on how and where to reload a PRESTO card.
Adding additional visual communication options is a great idea and we will look into implementing this. It should be noted that starting in 2017, Collectors (cashiers) will no longer be in a booth and behind glass. Fares will be purchased from a PRESTO machine at the station or on a website. Also, TTC staff will have computer tablets which will allow them to type information to a customer instead of auditory communication.
Support Person Assistance Card
"How will the Support Person Assistance Card work with PRESTO?"
"How can I get a Support Person Assistance Card?"
View information on how to obtain a Support Person Assistance Card, or call our customer service centre at 416-393-3030. The current Support Person Assistance Card will be accepted until a solution is available on the PRESTO card. Those details are still being worked on and will be communicated when they are available.
Purchasing fares - PRESTO
"Can you give an update on the Presto card installation for Wheel-Trans contract minivans and Wheel-Trans buses?"
"PRESTO card is difficult to use as a one-handed person. Electronic machines not accessible."
PRESTO will be available on all buses in 2016, Wheel-Trans vehicles and accessible taxis by the end of 2016. Wheel-Trans sedan taxis will have PRESTO in 2017. The rollout plan for sedan taxis is still being finalized and information will be shared when its ready. View more information on PRESTO.
The PRESTO card reader on Wheel-Trans vehicles and accessible taxis is a hand held device that operators will bring to the customer. If you need help tapping your card, the Operator or your support person can tap the card for you.
Safety and Security
"What is being done to ensure safety of activity of passengers leaving trains? Long exit from the subway cars. Use video to monitor door opening."
"Shouldn't safety belts be mandatory?"
TTC is moving to One Person Train Operation (OPTO), which will function exactly as described. New video cameras will be positioned on each subway platform and the train Operator will have a view of the entire train from three cameras so that they can determine when it safe to close the doors, and to move the train.
While TTC recommends that customers use the securements available on buses, these are not mandatory, except for customers travelling on Wheel-Trans.