Funds sought to upgrade subways for disabled

  • May 18, 2008
  • Bruce Bromley

May 16, 2008 04:30 AM

12110928670102The transit system is on target to offer such service on all its underground and surface routes by 2020. But officials say that’s not good enough, given the growing demand.

They want the province to provide an extra $9.5 million annually to speed upgrades to subway stations to make them all accessible by 2017. Another $500,000 next year would allow the TTC to reduce by half the 2 per cent of Wheel-Trans requests that aren’t filled now because the service isn’t adequate.

Demand for paratransit trips is expected to increase 6.5 per cent this year.

Being able to use the regular system would be life-altering for riders like Penny Lamy, who uses a scooter and serves as chair of the TTC’s Advisory Committee on Accessible Transportation.

Although 64 per cent of TTC customers use the subway, only 28 of 69 stations are fully accessible with elevators, accessible fare gates and textured flooring that helps visually impaired people find their way.

The TTC is expected to award a contract in the fall for 204 fully accessible, low-floor streetcars, but they won’t be fully operational until at least 2017. Meanwhile, streetcar riders must be able to climb steps.

The bus system should be fully accessible by 2010. An automated stop call and display system being installed on TTC buses should be complete next month.

For now, drivers are calling the stops, following an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling last year on the accommodation of disabled passengers.

Under the order, the TTC will hold its first annual public forum on disabilities issues at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind at 1929 Bayview Ave.