From: Francois Khouri
Kelly Paleczny, General Manager – London Transit Commission
Ward 6 Councillor Phil Squire, Commissioner for London Transit Commission
Ward 13 (Downtown) Councillor Arielle Kayabaga
Avril Rinn, Member – Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee (APTSAC)
Monday, October 07, 2019
RE: Barriers for Visually Disabled Riders on LTC Buses
To whom it may concern
My name is Francois Khouri. I am a lifelong London resident, and I am a person with a visual disability. I have been using London Transit buses as one of my main forms of transportation around the city for several years. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the various accessibility barriers experienced by visually disabled riders that exist on London Transit buses.
Visually disabled riders rely on the two different audible announcements on the buses. The audible announcement that occurs when the bus door opens and announces the bus route number is rarely working properly. Also, the audible announcements on the bus that announce the different stop locations, such as King at Richmond are rarely functioning properly. In September 2019, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff Miller (Manager of the Operators) twice, and Cathleen (I think that she was the Manager of Customer Service). On all 3 calls, the improperly functioning audible announcements were discussed. Mr. Miller said that after speaking to their software vendor the fix for the audible announcements will take three days to deploy, as it has to be done to all buses at once. However, the problems still persist.
Another major barrier for visually disabled riders from being on an equal footing as sighted riders is when buses pull away from a bus stop when they are located behind another bus in the second or third position. A low vision rider may not be aware that they have pulled into the stop and subsequently pulled away without approaching the low vision rider. The London Transit policy used to be that the bus in the second or third position could not pull away into traffic without clearing the stop first; that is, the bus had to stay in that lane of traffic and pass the bus stop sign before pulling away back into traffic.
On my phone call with Jeff Miller, we were able to get to the heart of the matter. Apparently The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the operators has changed since the implementation of Dundas Place; the buses are now allowed to pull back into traffic from behind another bus without clearing the stop first. I told Mr. Miller that this fundamental change in the SOP for operators treats visually disabled riders unfairly by excluding them from being able to safely and effectively ride on London Transit. It treats us differently than sighted riders, because we are not able to see the buses pull into the stop and subsequently pull away from the stop while we wait for our bus.
I have identified for you some important accessibility barriers that visually disabled riders encounter daily while attempting to navigate around the city on London Transit which puts their safety at risk. Primarily, improperly functioning audible announcements that occur when the bus door opens should announce the bus route number, improperly functioning audible announcements on the bus should announce the different stop locations, and the operator’s ability to now pull into traffic from behind another waiting bus without clearing the stop first. My hope is that these barriers can be immediately removed in order to put visually disabled riders on an equal footing as sighted riders, and allow us to safely ride on London Transit buses.
Yours Very Sincerely
FRANCOIS KHOURI DATE