Under the Transportation Standard of the AODA, companies that provide public transportation have to create and implement policies and plans to make their services accessible to passengers with disabilities. Since this law has been enacted, public transit has taken steps to make it easier for everyone to use their services.
Public transportation includes:
- City buses
In this article, we outline some of the mandated accessibility features for Ontario public transit. For instance, accessible features includes:
- Stops, shelters, stations, and platforms
- Audio and visual announcements
- Transit information
Accessible Stops, Shelters, Stations, and Platforms
AODA requires that all new and renovated:
- Bus stops
- Bus shelters
- Train platforms
- Train stations
are level or ramped for use by people with mobility devices.
Shelters, platforms, and stations should be wide enough so that people using mobility devices can turn around.
Also, transit users should find that signs have good colour contrast and have large print. Signs should be found in or at:
Buses should either have level entrances, ramps, or lifts. Emergency response and stop request buttons should be at a height that people using mobility devices can easily reach. There should also be seats near the front of the bus for riders using assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or scooters. Riders may also bring smaller devices, such as canes or walkers. Service animals are allowed on all buses and taxis. Notably, taxis that store mobility devices cannot charge an extra fee for doing so.
Audio and Visual Announcements
Buses have audio announcements that speak the name of each stop as they approach it. This system allows riders who are blind or visually impaired to know where they are and when they have reached their stop. Audio announcements also identify which bus is coming. Visual display of the same information is equally helpful for riders who are Deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing. Blind or visually impaired taxi riders should disclose their disability to dispatch when they call a cab so that drivers will know to identify themselves. If riders are blind or have very low vision, they can ask drivers to describe exactly where they are when they reach their stop or ask drivers to take them to a nearby landmark.
Accessible Transit Information
People with disabilities can go online to find out information, such as:
- Bus times and routes
- Delays and detours during winter and construction season
Additionally, any information not on the website should be available in accessible formats, such as Braille or large print, upon request.
Public Transit Benefits Everyone
Accessible public transit allows people with disabilities to get around cities and the province with more ease. Other groups of people will also benefit from accessible services and rides, including:
- Parents of children in strollers
- Older adults
- Travellers with luggage
- Shoppers with carts
Finally, accessible public transit allows people with disabilities to travel to work, to visit loved ones, and to community events. Accessibility ensures that every person can move around their city and throughout the province.