Taking transit to the Tribunal

In July 2009, the OHRC filed applications at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against Hamilton, Sudbury and Thunder Bay transit providers, on behalf of transit riders with vision disabilities. We took this action because providers were not meeting their commitment to call out all stops for transit passengers. This meant that for people with visual disabilities, the simple act of taking a bus to work, to school or to meet friends instead became a barrier.

This was the next step in an ongoing effort to have transit providers across Ontario call out all stops, following the July 2007 Tribunal decision in Lepofsky v. Toronto Transit Commission. In this decision, the Tribunal ordered the TTC to announce all stops on buses and streetcars that summer. Shortly after this, the OHRC contacted public transit authorities across the province, to make sure they were aware of their obligations under Ontario’s Human Rights Code, OHRC policy and recent human rights case law.

In 2008, all 38 public transit providers in Ontario told us that plans to call all stops on all routes were well underway, and that the service would be in place by the end of the year. However, this year, we learned that several transit providers were not meeting their commitments.

The OHRC’s application asks the Tribunal to order Hamilton, Sudbury and Thunder Bay transit providers to begin calling all stops on all routes within 30 days. The OHRC also wants those transit providers to train their staff on the importance of making transit accessible, and to monitor progress and report publicly on measures they have taken.

These applications are currently in the mediation stage with the Tribunal, and the OHRC is continuing to monitor other transit providers to make sure that accessible transit is a reality for riders with vision disabilities across Ontario.