Staff Report #1
June 21, 2022
To All Members of the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee
Re: Accessibility Plan Initiatives
The report be NOTED and FILED.
In addition to ensuring compliance with current accessibility legislation, the 2020-2025 Accessibility Plan includes two initiatives for 2022 relating specifically to the specialized service. The initiatives include an assessment of the current booking window parameters and the booking window options for the specialized service.
Given the impacts of the pandemic continue to affect the demand for specialized services, the timing of reaching out to riders to gather feedback is not ideal. However, administration was recently advised that the scheduling software utilized for the specialized service is being retired by the new owner. While the software will continue to be supported, it will no longer be subject to any upgrades or requests for modifications by end users. This status has resulted in the need to identify a replacement system, and requirements with respect to booking windows and booking options will be a key part of the system design specifications. As such, administration will be moving forward with an industry review of the various booking window parameters and options that are currently in use across the country, and will bring this information back to the Committee at a future meeting for further discussion.
The following provides an overview of the current practices in place for the specialized service in London which will be used to benchmark against other services in the country.
Booking Window Parameters
The current booking window parameters for the specialized service allow for demand booking trips to made three days in advance of the day of travel. In the event a booking can’t be secured at that time, customers have the ability to call back each day leading up to the desired trip date to attempt to secure a booking. Additionally, same day booking requests are accepted, which can often be accommodated due to trip cancellations that occur on the day of travel.
In addition to demand bookings, subscription bookings are also accepted for customers who travel on a regular pre-determined basis to and/or from a destination. The minimum duration for a subscription booking is four weeks.
As indicated earlier in this report, administration will undertake an industry scan in an effort to determine the various practices in place with respect to booking windows for specialized services.
The current practice in place with respect to trip booking requires all trips to be booked via telephone where the customer is connected to a booking agent who works with them to secure their desired trip. The only variance to this practice occurs in the event of an accommodation that would apply to a specific individual relating to their disability. The wait time on booking lines has continued to be a complaint from customers notwithstanding phone system upgrades and increases in call takers.
Interest has been expressed in allowing trips to be booked online by the customer, without the need to interact with a booking agent. While this would significantly streamline the booking process, it has the potential to put those customers without access to a computer at a disadvantage when booking trips as this process is slower and could result in the service already being booked by online bookings by the time they get through.
As part of the outreach administration will undertake with the industry scan, other systems will be asked to comment on any conflicts they have experienced if they offer different booking methods, and how they resolved them in a manner that ensured fair and equal access to all registrants of the service.
Of interest, throughout the pandemic when trip demand for the specialized service has been low, and virtually all trips have been able to be accommodated, there have not been any complaints with respect to the booking window or the manner in which trips are booked. This observation supports the longstanding belief that customers are more frustrated with their inability to secure the trip they desire than with the manner in which it is secured.
The findings from the industry outreach will be shared with the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee and used as a starting point for discussion relating to possible changes to the current booking window parameters. Following that discussion, administration will undertake outreach to the specialized service customers to gather their feedback.
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager