Staff Report #3
November 7, 2019
To All Members of the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee
Re: Conventional Transit Service – Accessibility Issues Update
That the Report be NOTED and FILED
Over the summer period, a number of concerns were raised about the accessibility of the new transit stops in the core, primarily those at Queens/Richmond and Wellington/Dundas. The concerns stem from the number of buses utilizing these stops at the same time, resulting in difficulties including:
- buses at the end of the queue don’t always wait for the buses in front to clear the stop before leaving
- the number of buses at the stop coupled with the ambient noise in the core makes the external announcements difficult to hear the further they are from the stop
- passengers with visual impairments have missed a bus due to being unaware it was in the queue but not directly at the stop
- difficulties reaching the last bus in the queue for individuals with mobility issues
The procedures that are in place for multi-use stops are set out below.
- It is the responsibility of the Operator to pull ahead to the stop after other buses have departed and ensure that a customer has not been missed.
- Operators must not pass a bus that is stopped and loading customers without stopping to ensure whether customers wish to board their bus.
- Customers are not obligated to step forward at stops or wave at a bus to stop. In large bus bays, pull completely forward to allow other buses in behind you.
- Operators must open the doors at all multiple route stops so that the stop announcements are audible to customers at the stop.
- If a visually-impaired customer approaches the lead bus in a multiple-route stop, it is expected that the Operator will assist the rider in locating the appropriate bus.
Further investigation into these contacts confirmed the issues identified. In the cases where a bus at the back of the queue left without serving the stop, it was after some customers at the stop had already boarded the bus, resulting in the Operator assuming there were no other customers waiting. While it is recognized this is not in keeping with the procedure set out above, the intent by the Operator to either keep or get their bus back on schedule versus sitting and waiting for all other buses to clear the stop is understandable given the major delays and schedule-adherence issues that were experienced throughout the summer in the core related to the construction projects.
In addition to the issues indicated above, a software issue associated with the September service changes resulted in the external announcement volumes being reduced so low they were barely audible. Administration began working on this issue in cooperation with our software provider as soon as it was discovered. Investigation into the problem found that the audible announcement files that were created to align with the September service changes were corrupt and had to be re-recorded and downloaded to all buses. The issue with the external announcements was rectified, and all buses in the fleet had the new announcement files loaded by October 8. During the period that the external announcements were not functioning in the manner expected, LTC Operators were instructed to call out their route/destination to customers waiting at stops.
In recognition of the issues identified, a number of steps have been taken in an effort to mitigate same, resulting in a better customer experience, each of which is detailed below.
- The Queens/Richmond and Wellington/Dundas northbound stops are being split into two separate stop locations, each of which would be served by two buses simultaneously versus the current situation. While this will not eliminate the multi-use stop, it will reduce the number of buses servicing the stop at the same time.
- The Planning department will make every effort going forward to avoid multi-use stop locations that serve more than two buses simultaneously.
- The stop announcement software has been adjusted to provide for a louder audible announcement at all stop locations in the downtown core and along busy corridors given the higher ambient noise in the area.
- In addition to the aforementioned actions, all Operators have been reminded of the current procedures with respect to servicing multi-use stops.
The effectiveness of these strategies will be assessed once in place to determine whether they have mitigated customer and Operator concerns.
New Stop Location Issues
The launch of the September service changes resulted in concerns from customers and Operators with regard to the placement of some new stops, most specifically along Wharncliffe Road for Route 93 and Wellington Road for Route 10.
Concerns with respect to the new Route 93 stops on Wharncliffe Road are specifically related to the stops at Tecumseh (northbound and southbound) that are not located at a signalized intersection, resulting in an unsafe crossing for pedestrians. This location was originally selected as it had the highest ridership of the stops in the area and also resulted in stop spacing within the guidelines for Express Routes. Upon further review of the stop it was determined that more appropriate stop locations would be at Emery and Elmwood as both locations have signalized intersections. Two stops have been installed to replace the stop at Tecumseh in order to avoid excessive stop spacing.
A new stop for Route 10 was installed on Wellington Road south of Southdale as part of the September service changes. Concerns have been raised by Operators with regard to the stop being too close to the intersection to be able to service the stop and then cross over multiple lanes of traffic to make the left-hand turn onto Southdale. The stop location was assessed and it was determined that the best solution would be to remove the northbound stop on Wellington at Southdale, noting there is a stop on Southdale west of Wellington to continue to be able to provide access to transfers for Routes 13 and 90. This stop location has been removed.
Many of the contacts with respect to issues related to the service changes are received via formal contacts, which are responded to individually. Additionally, commentary included on social media is monitored and forwarded to the appropriate department for follow-up; however, responding via social media is problematic given the timing between the message being posted and the completion of the assessment. The changes set out in this report are examples of the manner in which customer concerns are responded to, but not necessarily well communicated to the broader public. Better methods of communicating this type of information will be included going forward, as part of the corporate communications improvements program included in the 2019-2022 Business Plan and related annual work programs.
Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager