This Report is based on the many and varying viewpoints presented to the OHRC in the course of its public consultation on accessible public transportation in Ontario. As well, in the summer of 2001, the OHRC updated its 1999 transit survey, gathering current information on the status of conventional transit and paratransit systems, as well as planned initiatives to increase accessibility.
The Report begins with a brief outline of the status of accessible transit in Ontario today, based on the transit surveys conducted in 1999 and 2001, as well as information received through the consultation process. This section also identifies some best practices among transit providers. Conventional and paratransit systems are then examined in depth, in terms of the human rights principles that apply, the issues raised, and the impact on older persons, persons with disabilities, and families with young children.
Three key issues raised throughout the consultation were funding, standards, and roles and responsibilities. These issues are examined in depth.
Throughout, there has been an attempt to allow transit users, providers, and other stakeholders in the system to speak for themselves. Discussions of public transportation can seem mired in technical details and process issues. These seemingly technical decisions have, however, a powerful daily impact on thousands of lives in this province. The effect of decisions about transportation on the dignity, independence and opportunities of thousands of Ontarians is profound, as the submissions to this consultation make abundantly clear.
Beyond simply identifying issues surrounding accessible public transportation, and the human rights principles that apply, this Report suggests ways to move the issue of accessible public transportation forward, making recommendations for transit providers, municipalities, and senior levels of government, as well as commitments for the OHRC’s own actions. The Report is intended to assist all parties in identifying constructive ways to work together to improve the public transit system.