Under the Transportation Standard of the AODA, specialized transportation providers must make their services accessible to passengers with disabilities. Here we will outline how people use specialized transportation in Ontario and describe some of the rules that make these services a valuable alternative to conventional transit.
Who can Use Specialized Transportation in Ontario?
Some people’s disabilities make it difficult for them to use conventional transit. In contrast, other people may be able to use conventional transit at certain times of the year but not others. They may also be able to access some places but not others using conventional transit, because of environmental or physical barriers.
For instance, some people may use specialized transit in winter but conventional transit in other seasons. Similarly, people may usually use the bus or subway but use specialized transit if they are going to a place without a nearby bus stop or subway station. In addition, people with temporary disabilities, such as injuries after an accident that they will recover from, may be eligible to use specialized transportation for a short time. Each provider decides how long people with temporary eligibility can use its services. Finally, visitors can use specialized transit if they are eligible for their local service or fulfill requirements for the service in the region they are visiting.
People who need or want to start using specialized transit can apply for their local service. Service providers must create an application process for people who wish to use the service permanently, temporarily, or conditionally. Providers must respond to applications in fourteen days or give the applicant temporary eligibility until they make a decision. Providers must also offer temporary services on emergency or compassionate grounds for people who need services during this fourteen-day period. Likewise, providers must create an independent appeal process for people whose applications are denied. If they do not reach an appeal decision in thirty days, they must give that applicant temporary eligibility. Moreover, providers must offer their application and appeal processes in accessible formats upon request. Both processes must be free of charge.
If a company operates both conventional and specialized transportation, it is required by law to:
- Charge fares that are less or equal to those of local conventional transportation providers
- Provide the same fare structure and payment options as local conventional transit, and additional payment options if passengers need to use them
- Provide the same hours and days of service as those offered by local conventional transportation.
Furthermore, if conventional and specialized transportation are offered by different companies in the same location, the specialized transportation company may charge no more than the highest cost of conventional transportation. These requirements are in place so that people who always use specialized transit do not pay more than they would have paid if they could use conventional transit. They may pay using all the options available through their local conventional transit service, such as cash, tickets, or passes. Additionally, specialized transportation providers must offer more payment options to passengers who cannot use the methods already available. However, if conventional providers offer temporary promotional deals or prices, specialized providers do not need to do the same.
Places to Go
Specialized Transportation in Ontario makes it possible for all people to go where they need to go. People use specialized transit to go to work, volunteer, go out with friends, play sports, or shop, among other pursuits. Conventional transit, and other forms of transportation such as driving, are not options for everyone. Specialized transportation is an essential way for people with disabilities to be fully engaged in their communities.