Since starting this inquiry, the Commission has received feedback indicating that stop call-outs are standard practice in many parts of the world. We have heard that stop announcements provide improved service for many community members, such as persons with visual or cognitive disabilities, people who find it hard to read street signs, tourists and others visiting unfamiliar areas, and passengers who are distracted or unable to see outside due to bad weather or full vehicles. We have also heard, from some transit organizations and vehicle operators, as well as from transit riders both with and without disabilities, that announcing all stops simply makes sense.
The Commission wishes to extend its thanks to the OPTA and to all the service providers that cooperated with our inquiry. A significant majority of the transit organizations province-wide reacted in a positive way to the information provided by the Commission, and to our request for action on their part. Their willingness to quickly increase accessibility by ensuring announcement of all stops, even where they have not yet received customer complaints, are good examples of a proactive approach to inclusivity through barrier removal.
The Commission continues to encourage those transit providers who have not yet begun announcing all stops to do so before June 30, 2008. The transit sector has been aware of the issue for a number of months, and, as many other transit providers have shown, manual call-out can be implemented in short time-frames, even in large organizations. Those who have delayed in their response therefore leave themselves vulnerable to human rights complaints. Ideally, organizations will use their resources to immediately implement manual stop announcements, rather than defending delays and barriers to accessibility.
For many Ontarians, particularly people who cannot drive due to visual impairment, transit is essential to their full and equal participation in society, allowing them to get to work and appointments, do their shopping, visit friends and family, and attend events. Announcement of all stops provides more dignified and reliable access to persons with disabilities, and makes sure that they and other transit users benefit from more consistent and user-friendly service throughout the province.