Skip to main content Skip to main menu

Accessible Seating on Public Transit

The first review of the AODA’s Transportation Standards became public in 2018. In this review, the AODA Transportation Standards Development Committee recommends changes to the existing Transportation Standards. In addition, the Committee also recommends action from other sectors of the province, to remove accessibility barriers that impact transportation. This article will discuss the Committee’s recommendations for accessible seating on public transit.

Accessible Seating on Public Transit

Under the current Transportation Standards, each public transit vehicle must have two types of accessible seating:

For example, public transit vehicles that must have space for passengers using assistive devices and courtesy seats include:

  • Buses
  • Motor coaches
  • Streetcars
  • Subways
  • Light rail
  • Commuter rail
  • Inner-city rail

Vehicles must have at least two (2) spaces for passengers using assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or scooters. In addition, vehicles must also have courtesy seating near doors available for passengers with disabilities. Signs should clearly indicate which seats on a vehicle are courtesy seats. Signs should also alert non-disabled passengers in assistive-device spaces or courtesy seats to vacate them if passengers with disabilities need them.

However, the Committee states that members of the public do not always recognize the need to vacate assistive-device spaces and courtesy seats. Therefore, the Committee recommends more education and outreach to make the public aware that these spaces are designed specifically for passengers with disabilities. Reminders for drivers and other transit personnel could also help them enforce this mandate of the Transportation Standards.

Moreover, the Committee notes that courtesy-seat signs, identifying them visually by colour or other markings, are not accessible for some passengers with visual disabilities. Therefore, the Committee recommends that transit providers and community agencies should work together to create training materials that will inform these passengers where courtesy seats are located.

Finally, the Committee recommends a change to the Transportation Standards, to create more assistive-device spaces and courtesy seats on trains and subways. The Standards should require transit providers buying or retrofitting railcars to consult with their accessibility advisory committees about layout. This consultation would help transit providers learn how many assistive-device spaces and courtesy seats vehicles should have, and how to arrange them.