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Travel Training for Passengers with Disabilities

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 recommended travel training for passengers with disabilities in Ontario.

Travel Training for Passengers with Disabilities in Ontario

Travel training means learning how to journey safely on public transit. For example, a passenger in travel training might learn:

  • What options for public transit their city has, such as:
    • Buses
    • Streetcars
    • Subways or other rail systems
    • Motor coaches or trains for travelling between cities
  • How to:
    • Find out which route to take to reach a specific destination
    • Deal with temporary disruptions to services, such as construction
    • Transfer from one vehicle or type of transit to another
    • Find out when and where a vehicle will arrive
  • About choosing the most appropriate payment option for them, such as:
    • Different types of transit passes
    • Various methods for buying bus or train tickets

Many passengers could benefit from travel training, including:

  • Young people
  • Newcomers
  • Seniors who formerly travelled by car

In addition, many passengers with disabilities could benefit from this training. For example, travellers who are blind or visually impaired receive some travel instruction during orientation and mobility (O and M) training, when they learn to safely use a white cane. However, there is now a shortage of O and M instructors in Ontario, and no program to train new ones. Therefore, many blind and visually-impaired travelers cannot access the training they need to ride public transit safely. When travellers with these and other disabilities lack training, they are limited to using specialized transit. Training to use public transit would give these travellers more choice and autonomy. For instance, public-transit passengers do not need to arrange the time and place of their travel days in advance, as specialized-transit passengers do.

Forms of Travel Training

Therefore, the Committee recommends that the Transportation Standards should require public transit companies to provide passengers with information about how to use their services. Furthermore, the Standards should also require companies to create and implement plans to assist travellers with disabilities to navigate in transit. This assistance may take the form of education or technology solutions. In addition, the Committee suggests that partnerships from other sectors could offer more direct forms of travel training. For example, practical lessons with a travel instructor, comparable to driving lessons, could provide further support to passengers.