SCIO Writes TTC’s CEO Letter of Concern Regarding Recent Wheel-Trans Changes
The recent changes announced by TTC’s Wheel-Trans are a cause for concern in our community, with hundreds of people having to re-apply for the service, thereby having to prove their disabilities and their severity. There have been recent media reports, highlighting the fact that people are losing full access to door-to-door service and being forced into the hybrid system, which includes conventional subways, buses and streetcars.
In a recent letter to the TTC’s CEO, SCIO addressed the concerns of our community, urging the TTC to pause these changes and consider the need for equitable transportation across the City of Toronto. In response to this letter, we received an immediate response from TTC’s CEO Richard Leary, who spoke to SCIO’s CEO, Stuart Howe and stated that the TTC has no intention of getting rid of door-to-door service for people who need it.
The Chair of The Accessibility Advisory Committee from the City of Toronto also connected with our CEO and will be addressing this issue at upcoming meetings. You can find our communication to the TTC here:
Spinal Cord Injury Ontario serves people, in almost all cases, living with permanent disabilities. We are reaching out to voice our concerns about the recent changes to TTC’s Wheel-Trans, which are requiring thousands of customers to re-apply for the service if they have been using it prior to 2017.
There is a growing apprehension in the disability community about the potential loss of access to transportation. I wish to bring to your attention some of these concerns, in light of recent news.
- The mandatory re-registration process has been deemed by many to be burdensome, time consuming and anxiety invoking as people are having to,once again, prove their disabilities and their severity.
- The implementation of Family of Services as a hybrid service is making it difficult for people to navigate their city. Despite the changes to make public transportation more accessible, our community members face challenges that cannot simply be eliminated through basic accessibility measures including elevators and ramps -many have limited arm and hand function, making it difficult or impossible to navigate bus ramps and subway gaps independently. This creates potentially dangerous scenarios, where people with disabilities can injure themselves and/or other passengers.
- There are thousands of customers who are fearful of losing door to door transportation and being forced to use conventional methods of public transportation for at least part of their trips. This is creating unnecessary burdens. In a recent article published in The Toronto Star, several stories are highlighted that speak to the difficulties and stresses that people are being subjected to.
Equitable transportation in the city of Toronto should be available for every resident, regardless of physical ability. I strongly encourage the TTC to reconsider these changes to Wheel-Trans services.
I would be pleased to further discuss this matter with you and look forward to your response.
Dr. Stuart Howe