Customer Comments and Staff Responses
Below is a summary of the accessibility issues and suggestions for improvement raised by customers at the 2022 Public Forum on Accessible Transit. Customer comments are accompanied by a summary of the current status of each issue.
Response to COVID-19 pandemic
“It's optional to wear a mask on TTC conventional vehicles so why is mask wearing mandatory and not optional on Wheel-Trans.”
“When can I stop wearing a mask on Wheel-Trans vehicles?”
“Due to my height, the front seat in taxis is easier to enter and exit. When can we sit in the front seats again? Some drivers say yes and some say no saying TTC rules.”
“When will Wheel-Trans open the front seat in Wheel-Trans taxis?”
Wheel-Trans provides transportation for customers that have a variety of health concerns, including dialysis and cancer patients that may have immune systems that are more vulnerable. The interaction between Operators and customers on Wheel-Trans service can be closer than that on conventional transit as well. Wheel-Trans will continue to prioritize the safety of customers and Operators, and complete ongoing reviews to ensure our policies are aligned with public health guidelines.
The front passenger seat is not an option for use due to COVID safety protocols. This option will be considered for reinstatement in the future.
We are working with our partners at Toronto Public Health and TTC Safety to determine when changes to these policies may be appropriate.
Conventional vehicle design
“Is it possible to widen the ramps on buses? Because my small wheelchair wheels went off the edge on the bus when I used it. Streetcar is ok except the ramp is very steep when using it.”
“When are you going to turn off the blue lights on Not in Service buses and streetcars? Not everyone can read the messaging on the front of the vehicles.”
“Are the new streetcars going to have more stop request buttons?”
Thank you for your feedback on bus ramp width. TTC already specifies the widest possible ramp available and the ramp width is ultimately limited by the entrance door size which typically is smaller than the exit doors. We will continue to keep an eye out for options that may be available in the future.
Unfortunately, TTC vehicles are not designed to turn off the blue lights when the vehicles are not in service. We will review to determine if this is possible for future vehicle orders.
There are no plans to add additional stop request buttons on streetcars, however, please note that the door open and ramp request buttons also function as stop request buttons.
Subway station design
“The gap between the train and platform is quite large to the point where I hesitate at times wondering if my wheelchair will get stuck in between. It hasn't happened yet.”
“Can you please put washrooms in subway stations which don't have one?”
“I must rely on Wheel-Trans even though I live across from Islington Station. Because I can’t manage the stairs to get into subway with a walker. I don’t understand why when Islington Station is such a hub that there is no elevator.”
TTC is working to minimize platform gaps to the extent possible across the system. However, a minimum gap of approximately 70mm or 3 inches must remain to account for the safe operation of trains through stations. Tips on boarding subway trains and minding the gap are available in the Riding the Subway section: https://www.ttc.ca/accessibility/Easier-access-on-the-TTC/Riding-the-Subway
Incorporation of public washrooms at existing in-line subway stations cannot be accommodated given high retrofit costs due to limited space availability and required services (water, heating, climate control), cost of security and maintenance, etc. Customers may wish to take advantage of the two-hour transfer which enables customers to exit the subway system to use nearby facilities and re-enter again without paying another fare.
Construction at Islington Station is planned to begin in 2023 to add two new elevators, a new main entrance, and new accessible bus terminal as part of TTC's Easier Access program. The current schedule for Easier Access improvements is posted online at: https://www.ttc.ca/accessibility/easier-access-program-schedule
“Operators do not want to help me obtain priority seating when I board the bus.”
Please refer to the Priority Seating frequently asked questions: https://www.ttc.ca/riding-the-ttc/Service-Information-FAQs/Priority-Seating-FAQs
“How do I know which stops on the subway system have elevators?”
Stations marked with the blue International Symbol of Access on TTC maps, signage, and the website indicate that they are equipped with elevators and other accessibility features.
“Can you make the Support Person Assistance Card photo and application process easier?”
“How about creating a photo Presto card that can double as a Support Person Assistance Card as well as holding the Fair Pass discount plan? This should have been done province-wide.”
“Who's picture should be on the on the card? Support person or the person with the disability?”
“Open fare payments: how will special rates, such as Fair Pass be applied?”
“More Presto Card readers on vehicles would help speed up boarding.”
Thank you for your feedback. TTC will be reviewing the Support Person Assistance Card (SPAC) program in 2023 to simplify it for our customers and we will take this feedback into account. The person with the disability should always be the one who's photo is displayed on the SPAC. They will be the one applying for the card, and they will have the flexibility of bringing a person of their choice on trips. It can be a different person each time, or they can choose not to bring a support person for any given trip.
Open Payments (payments with Credit and Debit cards) will initially be launched for adult customers. At the same time, will also be launching PRESTO virtual cards (your PRESTO card on your mobile device) so that all customers can access modernized ways to pay. Open Payments will be expanded to other groups in the coming years.
TTC currently has PRESTO readers at all bus and streetcar doors. PRESTO and the TTC continue to work together on expanding PRESTO to all customers.
TTC needs to do better with Operator announcements on vehicles and customer information in advance so that I can better plan travel during TIFF. I paid full fare but wasn’t able to get close to my destination and could have walked there faster instead.
The 504 King route was unable to operate on King during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). We will analyze how we could have done better in terms of customer communication for future events.
Training for Bus, Streetcar and Subway Operators
“Do you regularly review the driver's performance to address the Operators who are driving like they were in a car? If passengers are being jerked around when the bus or streetcar is in motion, the Operator needs more training.”
“Why are streetcar Operators not watching the boarding process to ensure that the doors stay open when people are still trying to board so that people don't get hit?”
When you press the ramp request button some streetcars don't stop.”
“Why do TTC bus operators ask why you need the ramp when you request it?”
“Sometimes bus Operators do not pull the bus close enough to the curb for walkers to board.”
“Yesterday in the subway bound to Kennedy, there was an elderly gentleman who was using a walker. He wanted to get off the subway but was too slow that his walker was caught in the door when it closed. Perhaps there should be cameras to allow TTC to check the reason why the doors would not close.”
TTC has audits that are performed for all modes: bus, subway and streetcar. With regards to braking, if there are any concerns, we do follow up plainclothes rides. We conduct annual assessments of defensive driving rides as well. If any irregularities are noted, we follow-up with additional training.
Operators are required to stop at all stops for customers who are waiting to board. Bus Operators are trained to wait for customers with unsure footing, canes or walkers to be seated before moving off, and they should not be asking why any customer requires the ramp after it has been requested.
Streetcars should always stop at the next stop when the ramp request button is pressed. Streetcar doors close automatically once the engagement buttons are pressed. If there is an obstruction, they are meant to re-open. Operators are trained to observe the cameras and be cognizant of passengers boarding and alighting. This is something we do audit frequently.
Line 1 has recently transitioned to using cameras as suggested to enable the train operator to monitor doors along the platform.
To report any issues regarding the above, please contact TTC Customer Service with as much information as possible including the date, time of day, route and 4-digit vehicle number so that we can look into the matter and get back to you.
Safety and Security
“I used the Sheppard and Meadowvale loop and a lot of riders that I have spoken to don't feel safe there at anytime of the day as it is in a rough neighborhood and also there is no washroom close by and the sit in area smells unpleasant. Is there anyway the transfer point can go back to the restaurant location at Highway 2 and Port Union Road.”
The transfer point between Toronto and Durham Region, located in the Meadowvale Loop, is a large, fully accessible shelter with ample seating which can accommodate multiple customers using mobility devices. It is also equipped with heaters and lighting. The former location is no longer an option for either Wheel-Trans or Durham Regional Transit. We are in the process of reviewing the Meadowvale Access Hub to determine if further improvements for customer convenience can be made.
Wheel-Trans Vehicle Design
“Why do van taxis labelled as accessible not have ramps?”
This is likely a sedan taxi. Sedan Contractors are permitted to use regular minivans for sedan service, however, if a vehicle is too difficult for a customer to enter/exit then the Sedan contractor must send a regular sedan vehicle and we will place a note on your file and vehicle exceptions where we can set up certain vehicles that cannot be scheduled to certain customers. If a sedan taxi is not for you, please contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service.
Wheel-Trans cross-boundary travel
“I had to go to Mississauga at Dixie and Mississauga Road. I had to transfer from one to another all the way to Kipling. This was not acceptable for my husband who uses a wheelchair. Is it possible that the services can be extended as far as Trillium Hospital at Highway 10 and Hurontario/Queensway?”
“I do a regional trip to Ajax from my home which is in the Lawrence and Don Mills area. It takes me anywhere from 3 hours to 4 hours to get my destination and home.”
We have agreements in place with GTHA transit partners whereby any trips that are more than 1 km outside the Toronto border must be completed by the adjacent transit provider. Trips less than 1 km from the border can be completed by the TTC. We have a system in place on the Self-booking Website where you can book directly to that location in the adjacent region and they will supply you with the correct transfer location.
Wheel-Trans trips can take up-to 1.5 hours, depending on schedules, traffic and distance. Cross-boundary trips include a second trip from the other transit agency, which can add to the length of the trip. Customers are encouraged to call Wheel-Trans Customer Service to ensure their cross boundary trips are efficiently planned by offering the shortest travel time available.
Wheel-Trans Access Hubs
“Do Access Hubs have heaters and air conditioning”
The Access Hubs have heaters which turn on once the temperature drops to a defined level. There is no air conditioning but doors are left open to let air in when it is warm out.
“Why does Wheel-Trans get 45 minute windows to pick up people but us riders only get 5 minutes to be at a destination?”
“When I book my rides online the pick up time often goes from a 45 minute pick up to being picked up an hour and half in advance. I have found quite a few of the drivers already waiting for me in the vehicle with no one else inside.”
“On my first trip that I chose to use Family of Services for in June, the Wheel-Trans taxi driver picked me up. Near the drop off for Family of Services the driver attempted to drop me off at a plaza nearby even though not the destination. Eventually they did drop off at proper place.”
“I booked a pick-up from the CNE to Scarborough but the next day the Wheel-Trans bus arrived late and contained five persons & five devices. It did not feel safe while driving on a highway!”
Wheel-Trans gives customers exact times the night before the trip. Wheel-Trans will also wait 5 minutes past the pick-up time. The 5-minute window allows our service to run more efficiently so we have more vehicles available for customers and so we're able to meet our on-time performance.
Alternate times are offered only when there is no service available for the times requested by customers. If the alternate times do not work for the customer, an option is available to try and re-book the trips by modifying for the time required as service does become available due to cancellations.
If a driver attempts to drop customers off at the wrong location, we urge customers to contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service so we can review the trip and take immediate action with the Operator or contracted taxi provider. Operators should be dropping customers off at the correct location confirmed at the time of booking.
Service is adjusted when possible to minimize delays. Vehicle capacity is determined based on interior size of the vehicle and having proper securement devices to safety transport customers. Operators are instructed to contact our Dispatch Office when this cannot be achieved to re-schedule passengers onto other vehicles.
Wheel-Trans service reliability
“When a Wheel-Trans vehicle is running late for a scheduled pick-up time, having to wait a minimum of 30 minutes before being allowed to call in to the priority line to get assistance underway is very unhelpful. Is there a reason why we can’t start getting assistance earlier as assistance doesn’t come immediately and having to wait 30 minutes before even getting help is very poor service and aggravates physical and mental health conditions? What can be done to reduce this 30-minute wait that does not serve us?
Customers can report late vehicles through the Self-Booking website anytime the vehicle is late. Wheel-Trans is also developing an option to report late vehicles using the Wheel-Trans Mobile App. The 30-minute window is in place to ensure the Priority Line is preserved for priority calls only. Presently, 90% of all trips are picked up within 20 minutes. Reducing the 30-minute window would increase call volumes in the Priority Line, which will result in increased wait times for Priority calls. Customers can call the Reservations line between 5:30 am and 11:00 pm, 7 days a week, for immediate assistance with their trips.
Wheel-Trans trip length
“I took a Family of Services trip from Eglinton and Royal York to Main Street Station. The trip took over 2 hours, almost enough time to go to Parry Sound driving.”
The scheduled duration of a Family of Services trip is approximately the same as that of a trip taken completely on the conventional TTC. The total travel time will vary depending on the length of the trip and the time of the day that a customer is traveling. If a trip solution seems excessively long, or the suggested routing and connections don't seem logical, customers can contact Customer Service to review a future or past trip.
Wheel-Trans customer service
“The worst thing Wheel-Trans did was contracting out the phone lines. They are extremely rude to deal with, especially Customer Service.”
“Why doesn't Customer Service work the same hours as the Reservation Desk?”
“The Wheel-Trans driver wouldn’t help me carry my bags.”
“The Wheel-Trans driver would not accommodate me to stop to use the washroom.”
“For people with medical conditions, can Wheel-Trans stop for the washroom when it is an emergency and then wait for the customer?”
“How can wait times be down to 1.7 minutes when there is three minutes of TTC/Wheel-Trans announcements on the call just to get started? And for the record never and I mean never have I had the pleasure of waiting 1.7 minutes to get a reservationist. Please advise how you’re getting these numbers because I can assure you everybody on this call waits longer than 1.7 minutes.”
Customer Service remains fully operated by Wheel-Trans while TELUS has an overflow contract for Reservations. The percentage of calls resulting in a customer complaint has improved since TELUS contract inception. We are sorry to hear of your negative experiences. We encourage you to file a report with Customer Service for any future incidences so Wheel-Trans can follow-up.
Reservationists can handle most calls and resolve the most issues and the Priority Line is available 24 hours a day. Customer Service is for less urgent matters and can always be reached by email.
Wheel-Trans Operators are not responsible for carrying bags or other personal belongings. Operators are required to secure mobility devices, but for bags and other personal belongings, customers should bring a companion for assistance if required. Customers can review our Carry-on Items policy on TTC.ca for more details or call Wheel-Trans Customer Service at 416-393-4111.
Operators are trained to accommodate washroom requests when it is safe to do so. If you feel the Operator is not being reasonable please contact Customer Service so we can follow up directly with the Operator.
We try to limit announcements at the front end of the phone lines to important messages only. With our customers' recent feedback, we have removed all of the non-urgent updates from our front end message. In terms of the calculation of average wait times, we have systems that report exact call wait times for each call that we receive. While wait times may fluctuate depending on the time or day, the 1.7 minutes is a computer calculated average wait time for that period which represents an average wait time for all the calls that we've received.
Wheel-Trans eligibility and policy
“I understand that for some people Family of Services trips are the only option. What about creating an option of using Door-to-Door when taking a trip when carrying items once or twice a year?”
“I know you have a rule that I have to wait 45 minutes for Wheel-Trans to pick me back up. For very quick stops could you not have the driver wait for me instead of me waiting 45 minutes for a new vehicle?”
A Family of Services trip is only offered to customers with conditional eligibility when none of the conditions that effect their travel on the conventional system are present. When these conditions are present, these customers would receive a door-to-door trip offer. If a customer receives a Family of Services trip and there are extenuating circumstances as to why they require a door-to-door trip; an exception can be made. At present, Family of Service travel is not mandatory for any customer, therefore, door-to-door travel can be requested at any time.
Wheel-Trans offers a public, shared ride service that is efficiently scheduled with every minute being accounted for. Stop-overs increase the likelihood that a vehicle will be running late for its scheduled pickups and drop-offs. The 45-minute layover gives customers adequate time at the location to complete their task while also accounting for possible delays in the service. Exceptions are available under our Layover and Multiple Stops Policy which can be viewed in the Wheel-Trans section of TTC.ca or more information can be gleaned by calling Wheel-Trans Customer Service at 416-393-4111.
Wheel-Trans Family of Services
“Could you review the process for customers to complete travel training?”
“Is conditional trip matching compulsory for Wheel-Trans vehicles?
“What is monitored dispatch Family of Services? Can you explain?”
“When i receive a Family of Service trip to Etobicoke from Don Mills, the trip has me transferring about six times by bus. For elderly people with disabilities this is too many changes with no guarantee of seating between stops. Standing is not possible. So I have to turn down this trip every time.”
Travel Training is a free program available to Wheel-Trans customers who want to learn how to use the TTC’s conventional system (bus, subway, and streetcar), which operates on fixed routes and schedules. The goal is to help you improve your travel skills, increase your comfort and confidence when travelling on the TTC, and teach you about all of your travel options. The Travel Training Program can be customized to meet your needs. To arrange for Travel Training with our Travel Training Specialist, please call 647-614-9396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Conditional trip matching refers to mandatory Family of Services. Family of Services is not compulsory at this time.
Dispatchers will closely monitor any service delays or closures on the conventional TTC system, e.g. subway station closures, bus route diversions, elevators out of service, etc. and make the necessary adjustments to any Family of Services trip that might be impacted in order to minimize delays. Whenever possible, the customer will be contacted to advise them of any changes to their scheduled trip. Should system delays result in a missed connection or no show, dispatch can schedule a door-to-door trip.
The scheduled duration of a Family of Services trip is approximately the same as that of a trip taken completely on the conventional TTC. The total travel time will vary depending on the length of the trip and the time of the day that a customer is traveling. Family of Services trips will involve a maximum of two transfers on the TTC conventional service. If a trip solution seems excessively long, or the suggested routing and connections don't seem logical, customers can contact customer service to review a future or past trip.
Wheel-Trans smartphone app and website
“When will you release Wheel-Trans app?”
“How can I connect with your team to build the mobile app?”
“Online the request earlier pickup button never seems to be available.”
“Why is it that when you book your trip as a requested departure, in other words "I am not ready to be picked up until this time" that you allow the system to still book us a trip 15 minutes earlier than that time? In my honest opinion that is truly setting us up to fail and get no showed.”
“Wheel-Trans booking site can only track Wheel-Trans bus.”
“On the Wheel-Trans booking website, is it possible to have vision impairment assistance (contrasted colour fonts)?
“When booking a trip online, the default is A.M. ex. 3:00 A.M. Can an alert be added to the requested time to advise the person that they are requesting to be picked up or dropped off at 3:00 A.M. (just in case they intended to request P.M. but forgot to deselect the A.M.)? Alert example: are you sure you want to leave or return at 3:00 A.M?”
“The problem with putting AM or PM on the booking site can be fixed by creating an option for the user to set the option to 24-hour format. This is common on tablets, computers and phones.”
“Do you know when the booking system will be improved to provide the drivers with more precise information as to how to find me so their time and mine are not wasted? It is very frustrating when the system only allows mailing addresses when the entrance is different. I can tell them where to drop me but I need to be able to tell them where to find me to pick me up.”
“The booking system is not even close to adequate when it comes to giving drivers an easy way to find us. It wastes time that could be spent transporting more people if they can't find us right away.”
“Please advocate to make the booking system more accessible, too”
Release of the Wheel-Trans app is planned for spring/summer of 2023. If you are interested in helping us test the app, please email Wheel-Trans Customer Service at email@example.com and ask to be set up as a pilot user.
The request earlier feature is subject to vehicle availability and may not always be available.
The system is designed to offer alternate times if available at the time of booking. However, customers can refuse the alternate time offered and place their original requested time onto the waiting list.
Currently only Wheel-Buses are equipped with GPS as well as some Checkers Accessible Vehicles. All Accessible and Sedan Taxis will be equipped with GPS commencing in 2023 and will also be able to be tracked.
The Wheel-Trans self-booking website is designed to be accessible, text sizes can be changed on the computer. If any additional assistance is required, please contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service.
The booking system will be reviewed to see if AM and PM can be highlighted to ensure customers can clearly know that they have booked an AM or PM time. The option of 24-hour time will also be considered as a future enhancement.
Pick-up and Drop off instructions can be entered by customers through the Self-Booking Website when booking trips online or by a Reservationist when booking trips by phone. These instructions are provided to the Operators/Drivers as part of their runsheet information.
Better training: Wheel-Trans
“Some sedan operators and accessible operators are not polite.”
“Some accessible mini van operators don't display their City of Toronto municipality licensing photo ID.”
Our Operator training encompasses soft skills, acting in a professional manner at all times, respect and dignity. If you are experiencing negative interactions, we ask that you call our Customer Service line and our WT Contract Taxi Management group will address this with the Contractor and driver. When a complaint is filed, drivers must attend a refresher course prior to being re-instated in service.
Please contact Wheel-Trans Customer Service and advise of the trip that’s taken place where they are not displaying the MLS license. The Wheel-Trans Contract Taxi Management group will address this requirement with the accessible taxi contractors to rectify and send a reminder out to accessible taxi drivers. If you do encounter this issue again, please report it to Customer Service.