On behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”), I would like to thank you for the commitment you have made to announce stops in your transit services. I am pleased to report that all 38 of Ontario’s public transit providers have now committed to announcement of all transit stops by the end of this year.
In our first communication with Ontario’s transit providers on this issue, in October 2007, we requested that, if not currently doing so, transit services immediately take steps toward audible announcement of all stops. This request for immediate action reflected the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario decision in Lepofsky v. TTC, in which the transit provider was given 30 days to commence announcement of all stops. We look forward to December 31, 2008 as the deadline by which all transit providers will have stop announcement systems in place.
In the space of a year, Ontario’s transit services and their respective municipalities have taken a range of actions in support of this initiative. For example, they have developed policies, training and guides for drivers; purchased and installed PA equipment for manual announcement; made alterations to vehicles; and, in some cases, found funding and sourcing for automated stop announcement systems, and completed or begun their installation. Many have worked with each other, and with unions, accessibility advisory committees, government agencies, community members or advocacy organizations in order to address concerns and develop appropriate training, procedures, and monitoring systems.
We are therefore optimistic that, by the end of this year, organizations will be able to meet their commitments to implement stop announcements, whether through manual or automated means.
This is excellent news for Ontarians with visual impairment, and means that, wherever they travel in the province, they will find consistent, more accessible public transit, that they can use with dignity and confidence. This improved service will also benefit many other transit users, such as tourists, newcomers, and riders who can’t see their location due to inclement weather or crowding.
We are happy to have been able to work cooperatively with transit providers to resolve this issue, rather than having to resort to the complaint process. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation, and to work with transit providers and the community to address concerns. We will contact all transit providers again in early January 2009, for confirmation that all stops are consistently being announced, and to ensure that this important accessibility measure is available province-wide.
Once again, thank you for your support on this issue.
Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)