Staff Report #1
August 8, 2023
To All Members of the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee
Re: Public Engagement Options
That the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee RECEIVE the report for information purposes.
At the June 13, 2023 meeting, the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee (APTSAC) heard a delegation with respect to a number of changes the presenters would like to see with respect to the manner in which the Specialized service is delivered. As was discussed at the meeting, the same presentation had previously been provided to the Commission, followed by a report back by administration outlining the actions currently underway to address each of the issues outlined in the presentation.
During the June 13, 2023 meeting, discussion was held between APTSAC members and delegation members with respect to the manner in which the Committee can consider feedback from members of the public regarding accessibility issues relating to the delivery of accessible public transit services. The Committee passed a motion requesting administration to bring back a report detailing options in which public feedback may be best communicated with the Committee.
The nature of public transit being a shared ride service results in the inability to meet the demands and expectations of every rider on their terms. Every policy, procedure or service change that is implemented has the potential to both address the issue raised by one customer while simultaneously creating a new issue for another. Given that public transit services need to balance the priorities of many, it is imperative to ensure that feedback is considered from a wide range of stakeholders prior to changes being implemented. It is also important to realize that notwithstanding consideration of this wide-ranging feedback, not everyone will see the new policy/practice or service change as an improvement.
The following provides a summary overview of the various mechanisms that have traditionally been utilized to gather feedback from customers and/or general public.
Customer contacts are collected daily and entered into a database which allows for trending by service category. Contacts that allege significant policy violation are investigated immediately, and in some cases, may result in the need for a policy/procedure to be revisited. In addition, contacts are collectively reviewed on a regular basis to identify any trends that could indicate the need for a review of a related policy or practice. Finally, contacts are summarized by category and reported on annually to both the Commission and APTSAC. Trends identified in this annual report can be identified as an area of focus in the Annual Work Program which will result in a comprehensive review and report back on the issue, including any recommended policy/procedure amendments that may be necessary to effect a positive change in the trend.
Voice of the Customer Surveys
The Voice of the Customer surveys have been utilized as a key piece of input into ensuring service improvements/changes are responding to the priorities of the customer base. Separate surveys are conducted with conventional and specialized ridership groups, and are done so in a manner that provides statistically valid indicators. These surveys are unique in that they ask respondents to prioritize aspects of the service that are most important to them and then ask them to rate their level of satisfaction with each of the prioritized items. The survey results provide valuable insight into what the ridership groups prioritizes when determining their satisfaction with the service. These insights have been incorporated as underlying objectives in subsequent annual service improvement plans in an effort to focus available resources on the service aspects that are most important to the rider.
Surveys can also be created to gather feedback on a specific topic(s), and have traditionally been utilized as part of the annual service planning process for the conventional transit service. Surveys of this nature are most effective when a small number of items have been identified for consideration and the questions are focussed in a manner that gauges feedback to identify the most popular option.
Transit System Scan
In the event that a policy or procedure change is being considered, administration will conduct an industry scan to determine the policies/practices in place in other transit systems. This information can often be used as a template for moving forward with a policy change, but it can also identify areas to avoid based on the experience of the comparator system. While this information is not directly tied to local customers, it provides insight into the general transit customer perspective on a specific issue.
Members of the public can speak directly to APTSAC by either appearing as a delegation at a meeting, or providing a written communication outlining their issues/requests etc. which the Committee will discuss as a communication.
Administration holds public feedback sessions set up at various locations throughout the City allowing members of the public to provide feedback with respect to public transit services. The Commission also holds an annual drop in session intended to allow members of the public and transit customers to speak directly to members of the Commission and/or staff about any issues or suggestions they may have (these sessions were placed on hold during the pandemic but are set to resume in 2023).
Direct Contact with APTSAC Member
Customers may reach out directly to a member of APTSAC who may then raise an issue on their behalf at a Committee meeting. In addition, APTSAC members may reach out to their networks to discuss items being considered as a means to gather feedback and share same with the Committee during discussions.
Once the committee has received feedback from the public/riders, there are a number of actions that can be taken as set out below:
- request the Commission to direct staff to collect additional information or prepare a report back with options to address the issue;
- recommend a policy/procedure change to the Commission for its consideration; or
- receive the information and forward same to the Commission for its review and consideration
In order to arrive at an agreed-upon action, the Committee typically discusses the issue at a meeting, providing all members the opportunity to share their perspectives. Depending on the nature and extent of the implications associated with the issue at hand, more than one meeting may be required to arrive at a consensus. Using the recent amendment to the Pets on Transit Policy as an example, the Committee initially met to discuss the options and impacts and a number of items were brought forward by Committee members that required further assessment. Administration brought a report to the subsequent meeting assessing the various issues raised and provided options for implementation. The Committee voted at the second meeting on a recommended path forward that was forwarded to the Commission and ultimately implemented.
In past years, when a large policy/procedure change has been under consideration, additional meetings have been scheduled between regular meetings to ensure adequate time to discuss all implications of the item being considered. The last time this approach was utilized was during the eligibility re-assessment for the Specialized service which took place in 2006 noting the recommended path forward would potentially impact every registrant of the service. Further, this was considered after extensive public consultation took place on this issue. Should APTSAC members feel that extended discussion on a specific item be required versus discussion at a regular meeting, a workshop or special meeting can be arranged. If the attendance at the special meeting does not include quorum of the Committee, any recommendations stemming from that meeting would require discussion at a full APTSAC meeting for approval. In this case, a member of the Committee that attended the special meeting would be asked to make a presentation to the full Committee providing an overview of the special meeting and resulting recommendations.
While feedback from the public is often part of the review process, there has never been an instance in the past when APTSAC members worked as a whole, or as a sub-Committee with members of the public directly. The APTSAC terms of reference is established to ensure membership makeup that represents a wide array of disability groups, and members are expected to reach out to their individual networks for feedback when significant policy revisions are being considered. As indicated earlier, the Voice of the Customer survey is scheduled to resume this fall. APTSAC members will be consulted prior to finalization of the survey with respect to any specific areas of questioning that should be included in order to gather customer feedback (e.g. booking window length).
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager