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ThisAbility #41: We Need Some TLC from the TTC

aaron broverman

Find out how to fight back against the TTC.

Find out how to fight back against the TTC.

Last Wednesday, the following ‘letter to the editor’ appeared in Toronto’s Now Magazine:

Disabled stay home

I am a person with a disability who does not use Wheel-Trans, as others need it more and my needs have been better met by riding the subway, which is conveniently located half a block down my street. It’s the main reason I moved here.

The new fare increase (NOW, November 19-25) will limit my ability to access my city.

Those of us who are disabled do not get a fare rate reduction like seniors or students, and yet many of us live below the poverty line.

Adding insult to injury is the token freeze, which now means I either have to pay cash to get onto the subway or use up my precious energy going the extra distance to use another entrance. Merry Christmas to me!

How well Canadian politicians look out for the least among us. Hey, maybe this is their way of telling people like me to stay home?

Michelle Moore
Toronto

I feel Michelle’s pain. When I surveyed Canada’s public transportation systems for a 2006 article in Abilities Magazine, Toronto did much worse than anticipated for a major metropolitan centre with the highest disabled population in the country.  Since that article was written, a few more subway stations have become accessible, but there’s no visible progress on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, as the clock toward the fully-accessible deadline of 2024 keeps ticking down. The AODA Alliance continues to make transportation recommendations at the government’s request. Even the long overdue accessible streetcars, scheduled to begin appearing in 2011, will be implemented on a incremental basis. It remains to be seen how accessible the planned York University subway extension will be.

As Michelle points out, the token freeze further squeezes the already dwindled resources of the disabled population. People with disabilities occupy the highest segment of unemployed persons in the world.  (Full disclosure: I write this blog for free) However, the token freeze doesn’t just squeeze us financially, like the fare hike, it also squeezes us physically. At many stations, the token activates the gate automatically making it the most accessible and independent way to get to the platform. Relying on cash is much tougher because many of the lanes are too narrow to get an electric chair or scooter up to the window. Many of the counters are too high to place your money on by yourself, so even if you wanted to pay — you couldn’t.

Combine that with the fact Toronto has not followed most civilized cities in the world, and instituted a discount program for disabled people and I feel well within my rights to actively con the TTC every time I use their services.  Why support a system, so ill equipped to support me?

The “Bad Man” Broverman Guide to Riding the Rocket for Free

  1. “Friendlies” Get the right TTC employee at the counter and make like it’s a real struggle to pull out and count the change. Nine times out of ten they will wave you through, no questions asked, especially if your holding people up. **NOTE: Bus drivers will usually ask you to put your money away.
  2. “Slight of Hand” Sitting in a glass box all day can get tiring. Take advantage of laziness, slowed reaction-time and the lack of a sight-line (thanks to mobility devices being lower than the counter) and deposit whatever change you have on hand. Make sure you group the coins together, dropping them fast and all at once into the box with your palm facing towards you.  By the time they count it, you’ll be long gone.  **NOTE: also works with foreign currency denominations that, from a distance, look similar to Canadian quarters.
  3. “The Sneak” By far the most difficult technique, this one works best at rush hour. Find someone with a stroller (they will need to use the gate) and follow them close enough that when the attendant opens the gate you can sneak through before he can close it. You can also ask someone on the platform side to press the button for you. Most of them will assume you paid.

I can’t guarantee success, but these methods have worked for me and hopefully they’ll work for you. Remember, if you make a reasonable attempt to pay and can’t, there’s no harm in catching a break where you can.

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