By Matthew Bingley Global News
Posted October 21, 2023
The TTC was given two decades to make all of its subway stations accessible, but two years ahead of the deadline, its CEO admitted recently it will be unable to reach the target. Now a prominent disability advocate is calling on the province to hold the transit commission accountable.
When the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was passed in 2005, the TTC was given until 2025 to make all of its subway stations accessible. At a board meeting in late September, TTC CEO Rick Leary expressed disappointment about being unable to reach the target.
“We have to be realistic, we are not going to meet that mandate,” he said.
Of the TTC’s 70 subway stations, only 54 are currently accessible. Spokesperson Stuart Green said out of the 16 remaining stations, work is currently underway on 15 of them and an additional three stations will meet the 2025 deadline.
While other targets will be reached in the following years, the blown target is being given a massive thumbs down by accessibility advocate David Lepofsky. He noted the transit commission had touted in the past that it was on track to reach the deadline and said the sudden change is unacceptable for transit users who have been waiting decades to see standards improved.
“When you’re given 20 years to do something, the first thing you should be planning to do is get in under the schedule, not wait until the last minute for some of these stations and say, ‘Oh my gosh, we can’t do it,'” Lepofsky said.
He wants to see the city step up efforts to get the TTC back on track, but said the provincial government also has a responsibility to hold it to account.
“The Ford government is responsible for leading Ontario to become accessible by 2025,” Lepofsky said. “They are responsible for enforcing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Where are they on this?”
A spokesperson from the provincial Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility didn’t directly respond to a question from Global News regarding whether the Ford government would take action on any missed timelines. In an email, spokesperson Wallace Pidgeon only referenced previous funding commitments the province had made to the city for transit operations.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Mayor Olivia Chow said while progress had been made, more work needs to be done.
“The Mayor, the TTC and the City of Toronto will continue to work towards greater accessibility to ensure everyone has the transit system they need and deserve,” Arianne Robinson said.