Metrolinx and TTC work to make accessibility gates Presto friendly

Metrolinx and the TTC are in the process of developing technology to make the Presto payment devices work with the accessibility gate in Toronto subway stations.

Brian Drew, a senior policy advisor assigned to Presto by the province of Ontario, lead the round table discussion at the Metrolinx annual accessibility public meeting.

This year’s meeting at Metro Hall on Nov. 12 had the largest turnout Metrolinx has had over the past three years they’ve had the meeting.

People crowded around tables covering transit topics including Go Transit, Union Pearson express and the busiest of the night, Presto.

The current Presto machines at various subways stations are only installed onto the turnstiles. Accessibility gates will be equipped as part of the next roll out later this year, starting with the streetcars and eventually heading to subway stations, Drew says.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act came into effect in 2005 and the legislation applies to public and private sector organizations, including the TTC. It works to meet and maintain accessibility standards by removing barriers for people with disabilities.

The current Presto machines do not meet the AODA standard.

“However, as we begin to roll out with the TTC this month we will be following the AODA regulations,” says Robert Hollis, vice-president of Presto.

Metrolinx works with transit agencies to recommend where the technology should be installed. According to Anne Marie Aikins, manager of strategic communications of Metrolinx, each agency has the final say on where the fare payment device is installed.

Where the machines end up is ultimately a decision for the TTC. It’s been five years since Presto’s introduction to the TTC and the implementation on the accessibility gates has yet to begin. The system in its entirety won’t be near completion until 2017.

Hollis says that this is because of how late the TTC got on board with Presto. Only select stations will be Presto-ready for the Pan Am games this year.

“The TTC looks forward to a system that meets the needs of all our customers,” says Susan Sperling, manager of corporate relations at the TTC.

Heather Willis, accessibility coordinator for the office of equity of diversity and inclusion at Ryerson, says she hopes the TTC improves soon.

“Make it accessible in the first place. At the very least don’t create new barriers,” says Willis. “If you can’t use it at the different subway stops then you’re faced with another barrier.”

Willis uses a wheelchair and says Presto is not the only situation she is concerned about when it comes to the TTC. Maneuvering around the city is difficult when most of the stations are inaccessible.

After visiting an event at the MAC, Willis had to wheel past College station to get on at Dundas. Only 32 TTC stations are accessible, the remaining 37 are set to be completed by 2025.  But with the $240 million shortfall in the budget, the deadline might not be met.

“We want to do this but we do not have the dollars to do this,” TTC chair Maria Augimeri told CTV News. “We need a quarter of a billion dollars that’s not forthcoming from the province.”

Other concerns brought up by participants at the meeting includes readability of presto cards, more noticeable tapping stations and better marketing of Presto policies and procedures.

The results will be included in Metrolinx’s multi-year accessibility plan available online next year.


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