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?
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
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.