TTC to fix dan­ger­ous plat­form gaps

Pas­sen­gers with mo­bil­ity de­vices can get caught in them

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - Toronto -

The TTC is plan­ning to make mod­i­fi­ca­tions to al­most all of its sub­way sta­tions in or­der to make train plat­forms safer for pas­sen­gers with mo­bil­ity is­sues.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port go­ing be­fore the tran­sit agency’s board on Mon­day, 62 of the net­work’s 69 sta­tions likely re­quire retrofits to nar­row the gaps be­tween trains and plat­forms.

Large spa­ces be­tween trains and plat­form edges, or ver­ti­cal mis­align­ments be­tween the ve­hi­cle floor and the plat­form sur­face, pose a po­ten­tial haz­ard for riders us­ing mo­bil­ity de­vices or strollers, as well as those with im­paired vi­sion.

The Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on Ac­ces­si­ble Tran­sit (ACAT) has warned the TTC that pas­sen­gers can get the wheels of mo­bil­ity de­vices caught in the gaps, “caus­ing panic, un­nec­es­sary wear/dam­age…and sys­tem de­lays which ul­ti­mately un­der­mine con­fi­dence that the sub­way is truly ac­ces­si­ble.”

In an in­ter­view, ACAT chair Deb­bie Gille­spie called the planned retrofits a “god­send.”

The size of the gaps varies from sta­tion to sta­tion, and even from dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions on the same plat­form. That kind of vari­a­tion in the phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment can cause stress and pose safety haz­ards for peo­ple with ac­ces­si­bil­ity chal­lenges.

“The big­gest thing is not know­ing,” said Gille­spie, who is vis­ually im­paired.

“Con­sis­tency is key when you talk about ac­ces­si­bil­ity.”

The Ac­ces­si­bil­ity for On­tar­i­ans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act (AODA) doesn’t set ac­cept­able gap sizes for pub­lic tran­sit agen­cies, but af­ter con­sult­ing with ACAT, TTC staff are rec­om­mend­ing a stan­dard of 89 mm or less for the hor­i­zon­tal gaps be­tween trains and plat­forms, and 38 mm for the dif­fer­ence be­tween the height of the train floor and the plat­form.

Jim Ross, deputy chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cers for the TTC, said there are mul­ti­ple rea­sons why the agency is plan­ning the retrofits.

The AODA has man­dated that the tran­sit net­work be fully ac­ces­si­ble by 2025, and the TTC has al­ready started the process of shift­ing some Wheel-trans cus­tomers onto its con­ven­tional sys­tem as part of what it calls its Fam­ily of Ser­vices model. In eight years, half of the cus­tomers who cur­rently qual­ify for Wheel-trans are ex­pected to use the con­ven­tional tran­sit net­work.

On top of the le­gal and pol­icy rea­sons, Ross said, “it’s just the right thing to do.”

The TTC used a train-mounted laser sys­tem called LIDAR (light de­tec­tion and rang­ing) to mea­sure the gaps at all its sta­tions over sev­eral months, and de­ter­mined 81 per cent of the por­tion of the plat­forms that lines up with trains when they’re stopped al­ready meets the pro­posed stan­dards.

How­ever, to en­sure that at least 90 per cent of the plat­form length at ev­ery sta­tion meets the stan­dard, retrofits will be re­quired at al­most all stops. Some of the work will be mi­nor, while in other cases more ex­ten­sive re­con­struc­tions could be re­quired.

Op­tions to ad­dress the gaps in­clude us­ing rub­ber gap fillers and build­ing ramps. The TTC has al­ready built a ramp at one end of Eglin­ton sta­tion, where the plat­form was con­structed un­usu­ally low. The agency also low­ered its en­tire fleet of new Toronto Rocket trains af­ter it dis­cov­ered they were too high.

The re­port asks the TTC board to en­dorse the new gap stan­dards, and to carry out fur­ther study to de­sign a plat­form retrofitting plan.

Torstar News ser­vice

Deb­bie Gille­spie, who heads the TTC’S Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on Ac­ces­si­ble Tran­sit, with her guide dog Crete at The York Mills sub­way.

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