The Transportation Standard is the third standard under part IV of the Proposed Integrated Accessibility Regulation (PIAR) under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This standard will require transportation services to prevent and remove barriers so that people with disabilities can more easily access transportation services across the province. Requirements for accessible transportation apply to persons and/or organizations that offer transportation services to the public or employees, and that are responsible for or provide the following types of services:
- Conventional transportation
- Specialized transportation
- Public school transportation
- Other transportation services
Requirements do not apply to the following transportation services:
- Voluntary or faith-based transportation
- Federally regulated transportation
- Emergency response vehicles
- Amusement park rides
Conventional transportation service providers and specialized transportation service providers must start meeting the requirements of the transportation standards beginning July 1, 2011. Certain requirements have various other effective dates depending on the requirement and/or type of transportation covered under the standard.
The proposed standard is extensive and sets out detailed transportation-specific operational practices and procedures that address the following topics. Note that under each transportation-specific operational practice and procedure listed below, written policies will be required to include how services and/or equipment and other will be provided in an accessible manner.
Accessibility plans will indicate how:
- Accessibility is being achieved with respect to conventional and specialized services, where applicable
- Municipalities are making progress to meet the accessible taxi needs of their community
- Municipalities are making progress to increase the number of accessible bus stops/shelters
- Prior to publicly releasing accessibility plans, conventional transportation providers (including those that provide specialized transportation services) will be required to consult the public.
Emergency and public safety information:
Persons or organizations providing passenger transportation services will be required to establish, implement, maintain, and document emergency preparedness and response policy and procedures that provides for the safety of passengers with various abilities.
Persons or organizations providing passenger transportation services will be required to establish, implement, maintain, and document policies and procedures which require conveyance operators to perform duties such as:
- Provide assistance to persons with disabilities
- Use lifting devices
- Assist persons with boarding
- Provide route/destination information
Persons or organizations providing passenger transportation services will be required to establish, implement, maintain, and document employee/volunteer accessibility training policies and procedures that are specific to transportation-related duties and developed in consultation with persons with disabilities.
Availability of accessibility equipment and features
Conventional transportation providers will be required to make available current information on accessibility-related equipment and features of their conveyances, routes and services.
Maintenance of equipment
Conventional transportation providers will be required to establish, implement, maintain, and document procedures to:
- Maintain accessibility-related equipment in good working order
- Ensure operators report any accessibility-related equipment failure to the transportation provider
If the accessibility equipment on a vehicle is not functioning, another vehicle with working accessibility features will be required to be dispatched.
Equal fares and fees
Where fares and fees are charged, persons or organizations providing conventional passenger transportation services cannot charge passengers with a disability:
- A higher fare than passengers without a disability, for the same trip at the same time of day
- A fee for the stowage of assistive devices
Treatment of support persons
- Transportation providers cannot charge a fare to a support person accompanying a passenger with a disability on conventional or specialized transit.
- Designation of a support person is placed on the person with a disability, not the support person.
- No reapplication process is required for people with permanent disabilities who require support persons.
Fare parity for conventional and specialized transportation
Within a jurisdiction, the transportation provider will be required to apply the same:
- Base fare structure (e.g. for general passengers, students, seniors, etc.) to all conventional and specialized transportation services. This does not include promotional fares or charter rates that a service provider may employ from time to time
- Fare options (e.g. tickets, tokens, passes) to all conventional transit services
Transportation providers cannot charge a higher rate for specialized services than what is charged for conventional services in the same jurisdiction.
Conventional transportation providers will be required to ensure operators allow persons with disabilities to enter or exit the vehicle at the closest available safe location (as determined by the operator) that is not an official stop, if the official stop is not yet accessible or if there is a temporary barrier and the safe location is along the same route.
In determining where a safe stop location may be situated, the operator will give consideration to the preference of the passenger with a disability.
Operators will be required to report to the appropriate authority transit stops that are temporarily inaccessible or have a temporary barrier.
Storage of assistive devices
Conventional transportation providers will be required to ensure operators transport assistive devices in the passenger compartment within reach of the passenger, if safe stowage is possible.
If not possible, the operator may stow assistive devices in the baggage compartment of the conveyance on which the person is traveling. In these cases, the operator will store, secure and return assistive devices in a manner that does not adversely affect the safety of any passenger on the conveyance, including persons with disabilities, and does not cause damage to the assistive device.
Conventional transportation providers will be required to ensure there is clearly marked courtesy seating for persons with disabilities, as close as practicable to the entrance door. Signage will be required to indicate that passengers other than persons with disabilities must vacate their seats if its use is required by person with a disability.
Operators will be required to ask passengers who are not using a transportable mobility aid device to vacate wheelchair securement locations, if that securement location is needed by a person using a transportable mobility aid device.
Where there is a disruption to a scheduled service, conventional transportation providers will be required to make available alternate accessible arrangements to transfer passengers with disabilities to their route destination where alternate arrangements for passengers without disabilities are inaccessible.
Information on alternate arrangements will be required to be communicated in a manner that takes into account the person’s disability.
Pre-boarding route or destination announcements
For all services that do not require pre-booking, conventional transportation operators will be required to announce, verbally or by electronic means, the route or direction, or the destination or next major stop of the conveyance at the boarding point prior to boarding, upon request.
Where vehicles for more than one route serve the same stop, the conventional transportation provider will be required to provide a means by which a person with a visual impairment or other disability can identify the proper vehicle to enter or be identified to the operator as a person seeking a ride on a particular route.
Within six years of enactment, the transportation provider will be required to ensure that, for services that do not require pre-booking, all pre-boarding announcements are:
- Announced through electronic means
- Legibly and visually displayed through electronic means
- Visual displays of stop information will conform to Route and Destination Signage requirements.
On-board announcements of stops and connections
Conventional transportation operators will be required to announce, through verbal or electronic means, all destination points or stops for services that do not require pre-booking.
In six years of enactment, the transportation provider will be required to ensure that, for services that do not require pre-booking, all destination points or stops are:
- Announced through electronic means
- Legibly and visually displayed through electronic means
- Visual displays of stop information will conform to Route and Destination Signage requirements.
Route or destination signage
On a go-forward basis, transportation providers will be required to ensure the legible display of the route or direction, or the destination or next major stop, visible at the boarding point. Signage may include pictograms or symbols but must
- Be consistently located
- Have a glare-free surface
- Be positioned to avoid shadow areas and glare
Signage, including electronic display monitors, when used to give the same type of information within the same type of conveyance will be required to be consistently shaped, coloured and positioned, with text that is high colour-contrasted with its background and achieves the appearance of solid characters.
Boarding/De-boarding lifting devices, ramps, portable bridge plates
On a go-forward basis, the transportation provider will be required to ensure lifting devices, ramps, or portable bridge plates have:
- A colour strip that runs its full width, and is high colour-contrasted with its background
- A platform surface that is slip resistant
- Safety wheel guards along all exposed edges
On a go-forward basis, the transportation provider will be required to ensure a visual amber warning lamp indicator be mounted on the exterior near the accessible entrance door(s).
The visual indicator shall be coupled with an audible warning alarm. The visual indicator and the warning alarm must function when the conveyance is kneeling, when the ramp is deployed or when the lift is in operation.
A door opening and closing visual indicator and audible alarm system will be required to be available.
On a go-forward basis, the transportation provider will be required to ensure the top outer edge of each step and all interior edges at raised floors be marked by a colour strip that is high colour-contrasted with its background, that runs the full width of the leading edge of the step and is readily apparent from both directions of travel.
Step surfaces will be required to be slip resistant and produce minimal glare. Steps will be required to have uniform, closed riser heights and tread depths, subject to the structural limitations of the conveyance.
Grab bars, handholds, handrails, stanchions
On a go-forward basis, the transportation providers will be required to ensure that grab bars, handholds, handrails, and stanchions:
- Are located in specific locations throughout the vehicle to support passengers with disabilities
- Do not interfere with the manoeuvring space required for transportable mobility aids
- Are high colour-contrasted with their backgrounds
- Are sturdy, permit easy grasping and have slip-resistant surfaces
On a go-forward basis, the transportation provider will be required to ensure floor surfaces of conveyances produce minimal glare and are slip resistant.
Carpeted surfaces will be required to have a low, firm and level pile or loop, and be securely fastened.
Allocated transportable mobility aid spaces
On a go-forward basis, the transportation provider will be required to:
- Provide a minimum of two allocated transportable mobility aid spaces on the vehicle, each with a minimum clear space of 1220 mm by 762 mm
- Provide, as appropriate, securement devices
An allocated space may be used for other passenger purposes, if it is not required for use by a passenger with a transportable mobility aid.
Stop request and emergency response controls
Where applicable, on a go-forward basis, the transportation provider will be required to ensure accessible stop-request and emergency response controls are available throughout vehicles, including within reach of allocated spaces and seated passengers.
Stop-request and emergency response controls will be required to:
- Provide auditory and visual indications that the request has been made
- Be mounted no higher than 1220 mm and no lower than 380 mm above the floor
- Be operable with one hand and not require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist
- Be colour contrasted with the equipment to which the control is mounted
- Provide tactile information on emergency controls
Lighting and colour contrasting
On a go-forward basis, the transportation provider will be required to incorporate colour contrasting and lighting features that promote independent boarding, on-board circulation and de-boarding for passengers with visual disabilities.
Any step well or doorway immediately adjacent to the driver will be required to have, when the door is open, an illuminance of at least 20 lux when measured on the step tread or lift platform.
Other step wells and doorways, including doorways in which lifts or ramps are installed, will be required to have, at all times, an illuminance of at least 20 lux when measured on the step tread, or lift or ramp, when deployed.
The vehicle doorways, including doorways in which lifts or ramps are installed, will be required to have outside light(s) which, when the door is open, provide an illuminance of at least 10 lux when measured on the street surface for a distance of 0.9 m perpendicular to the bottom step tread or lift outer edge. Such light(s) will be required to be shielded to protect the eyes of entering and exiting passengers.
Accessibility equipment and features will be required to have high colour-contrast with its background.
Light, commuter, and inter-city railcars
For applicable vehicles, on a go-forward basis, transportation providers will be required to:
- Provide a minimum of one transportable mobility aid accessible railcar per train
- Ensure that all passenger railcars are accessible to persons with disabilities other than those who use transportable mobility aids
- Accessible washroom(s) will be required on those cars where a washroom exists.
Alternative accessible method of transportation
Municipalities providing conventional transportation are not required to provide a dedicated specialized transportation system, but are required to provide an alternative accessible method of transportation for persons with disabilities who cannot use the conventional transportation services that meet the requirements of specialized transportation.
Categories of eligibility
Specialized transportation providers will be required to have three categories of eligibility: unconditional, temporary and conditional.
For the purposes of eligibility, categories are as follows:
- A person with a disability that prevents him/her from using conventional transportation (unconditional eligibility)
- A person with a disability that temporarily prevents him/her from using conventional transportation (temporary eligibility)
- A person with a disability where environmental or physical barriers limit their ability to consistently use conventional transportation (conditional eligibility)
- Make available, upon request, all specialized transit eligibility application and decision information in accessible formats
- Consider an applicant provisionally eligible if an eligibility determination has not been made within 14 calendar days following receipt of an application with complete information
- Make a decision on an appeal with respect to eligibility within 30 calendar days upon receipt of a complete appeal application, but if a final decision is not made within 30 days, the applicant will be grated temporary eligibility until a final decision is made.
- Make specialized transportation service available to visitors
- Consider as eligible, visitors who provide confirmation that they are eligible for specialized transportation in the jurisdiction in which they reside or who meet the eligibility requirements of the host jurisdiction
- Restricting the number of trips an eligible passenger is able to request
- Implementing any policy or operational practice that limits the availability of service, excluding the provision of subscription trips (e.g. trips that are booked in advance such as to/from work)
- Provide same-day service to the extent that service is available
- Accept booking requests up to at least three hours prior to the published end of the service period the previous day
- Provide an accessible means to accept reservations
- A higher fare rate than passengers without a disability for the same trip
- A user fee or special charge in addition to regular fares or rates for using accessible taxi service
- A fee for the stowage of assistive devices
Transportation providers may deny requests for specialized transportation services to persons who are categorized as having temporary or conditional eligibility if the route, vehicle and stops are accessible to the person, and the person has the ability to fully use the accessible route, vehicle and stop.
Eligibility application and process
The transportation provider will be required to:
Transportation providers may require a re-assessment of the eligibility of temporarily eligible registrants at reasonable intervals.
An applicant may only appeal a decision with respect to eligibility if the applicant has new information that was not presented with the original request.
Transportation providers will be required to develop a policy providing access to specialized transportation services earlier than 14 days in situations including, but not limited to. emergencies and compassionate grounds where there are no other accessible transportation services available to meet the passenger’s need.
People with disabilities, or who are considered eligible for specialized transportation services, will not be charged a registration fee to apply for specialized transportation services.
Every transportation provider that provides specialized transportation services will be required to:
Transportation providers will be required to develop criteria to determine who falls into the category of “visitor.”
Integration of transportation services
For the purposes of this section, integration of services refers to the overall family of services concept that allows a transportation provider to provide, in a flexible way, transportation services in a manner that best meets the needs of persons with disabilities, and includes door-to-door service, if required.
Integration of services will be provided within the transportation provider’s service area that accommodates the abilities of passengers and may include service on accessible conventional transportation.
Coordinated service between adjacent municipalities
Where specialized transportation services are provided in adjacent municipalities, transportation providers of both specialized services will be required to facilitate connections between respective services.
Hours of service
Each transportation provider that provides specialized transportation services will be required to ensure that it has, at a minimum, the same hours and days of service for specialized transportation services as are provided by conventional transportation in the same catchment service area.
Where specialized transportation services are split between upper and lower tier municipality, the transportation provider will be required to provide the same hours and days of specialized transportation service as provided by the conventional service in each tier.
Every transportation provider that provides specialized transportation services will not limit the availability of specialized transit services to eligible passengers by:
Every transportation provider that provides specialized transportation services where the specialized services require reservations will be required to:
Every transportation provider that provides specialized transportation services where the specialized service requires reservations will be required to provide information on the duration of pick-up delays to affected passengers by a method agreed to by the transportation provider and passenger.
A service delay is a delay of 30 minutes or more after the scheduled pick-up time.
Every transportation provider that provides specialized transportation services will be required to allow companions to travel with eligible passengers if space is available and will not result in the denial of service to other eligible persons.
Every transportation provider that provides specialized transportation services will be required to allow dependants to travel with an eligible passenger who is a parent or guardian of the dependent if appropriate child restraint securement systems and equipment are, when required, available.
Public school transportation services
Publicly funded school boards will be required to provide integrated school transportation for all students where transportation is normally provided.
Where integrated school transportation is not possible or is not the best option, appropriate alternative accessible transportation for students with disabilities will be required to be provided.
Other transportation services (such as school transportation)
Persons or organizations who are not primarily in the business of transportation services, will be required to provide accessible vehicles and equivalent service upon request, and may contract or co-ordinate with other transportation providers to provide equivalent services.
Only applicable to universities, hospitals and colleges.
The above provision does not apply to emergency transfer conveyances (e.g. ambulances and patient transfer services).
The transportation provider will be required to provide ferry vessels that conform to the Canadian Transportation Agency Code of Practice for Ferry Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (1999).
Ferry vessels will be required to be exempt from requirements in AODA accessibility standards that are addressed within the Ferry Code of Practice.
Taxis – Equal fares and fees
Persons or organizations responsible for providing taxi services cannot charge passengers with a disability:
Taxis – Taxi registration, company and vehicle identification
Independent operators, brokerages or dispatch services providing on-demand taxi services will be required to include taxi registration numbers, company and vehicle identification information on taxi bumpers.
Taxis – Proportion of on-demand accessible taxis
Municipalities will be required to work with persons with disabilities and the taxi industry to determine the proportion of on-demand accessible taxis required in their communities.
What else, and how practical is this standard?
In addition, the government is proposing to amend Ontario Regulation 629 to modernize the technical requirements for highway vehicles (e.g., buses, transit buses, motor coaches, taxis, physically-disabled-passenger vehicles, and school buses) as part of the ministry’s proposed standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. As mentioned, the ministry is proposing that the Transportation Standard be part of the Integrated Accessibility Regulation.
Many interested stakeholders who participated in the consultation process from February 1, 2011 to March 18, 2011 are very concerned about the timelines and a number of the requirements related to the implementation of the transportation standard. The cost implications for the transportation standard are believed to be significant. Provisional estimates, for certain smaller transit systems, would see the annual ongoing operating costs equate to upwards of 50 percent of the current operating costs.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) heard from its membership that in the absence of revised timelines or supportive funding to support the implementation of the transportation standard, many providers will not only be unable to meet current transit demands but also will be unable to meet requirements under the standard. Smaller transit providers will be faced with the possibility of service degradation.
AMO believes that in the absence of the above, many municipalities will, at best, meet only minimal requirements for accessibility or be in non-compliance. At the same time, the degradation of existing services is likely. What this could mean is that the government will be required to spend additional resources on enforcement while the situation for Ontarians with disabilities remains virtually unchanged from how things are today. In its full response to the proposed integrated regulation, AMO raises other concerns including the release of the regulation for public review during the municipal election cycle. AMO is requesting the opportunity to review and provide input on the final regulation.