Canadian Transit at the Forefront of Equitable Mobility

National AccessAbility Week is an important annual event that celebrates the progress we have made as a society to facilitate accessibility and promote inclusion throughout our communities and workplaces. This year, National AccessAbility Week took place from May 27 to June 2, marking a time to recognize the milestones that Canadian individuals, communities, and workplaces have undertaken in order to “actively remove barriers and give Canadians of all abilities a better chance to succeed,” as stated on the Government of Canada. “We need to change the way we think, talk and act about barriers to participation and accessibility, and we need to do it right from the start, not as an afterthought. An inclusive Canada is one where all Canadians can participate and have an equal opportunity to succeed in their workplaces and communities.”

York Region Transit’s manager of Mobility Plus, Sharon Doyle, puts is as such: “Our passengers always come first, and we are built on a foundation of inclusivity. Everyone should have opportunity for independent and spontaneous travel, no matter their circumstances. When people have access to transportation, individuals and communities thrive.”

At CUTA, our mission is to inspire and influence the evolution of integrated urban mobility, and that includes equal access to mobility for people with disabilities. For this reason, we have chosen to highlight three outstanding projects with a focus on accessibility from our transit members, showcasing excellence and innovation in making Canadian urban mobility more equitable and available to all.

  1. Regina Transit: Travel Training Program

Regina Transit is actively supporting people who experience disabilities by offering a program that shows participants how to use fixed-route transit service through its new travel training program. Paratransit typically does not allow people to travel with the utmost flexibility and spontaneity because trips must be booked in advance, and there are specific trip times to adhere to. 

Using fixed-route transit enables people currently using paratransit to have another travel option. Regina’s program is unique because it is a partnership between the City of Regina, Creative Options Regina (a community-based organization supporting people experiencing disabilities), and the University of Regina’s 4to40 program.

People experiencing disabilities are hired to deliver the training creating meaningful employment.  For more information go to the website and click on the travel training tab. 

  1. TransLink: RFID Hands-Free Access

Through Hyperlight System’s innovative solution research, TransLink was able to introduce hands-free access to its pre-existing disability-access gates. Initially, TransLink was considering adding new gates with RFID technology, which would have taken a lot longer to get out to the public. Instead, this new RFID technology mimics the tap of a Compass Card by using radio-frequency ID cards.

“The $9 million Universal Fare Gate Access Program, funded by the federal and provincial governments and TransLink, provides eligible customers a radio-frequency identification enabled card (RFID) to automatically open accessible fare gates when they move within range.” – CBC News

ATW Extra: Translink Accessible Fare Gates, Vancouver

Passengers with disabilities preventing them from physically tapping a card are now able to use all of TransLink’s disability-gates thanks to this world-leading system that guarantees equity in urban mobility.

  1. York Region Transit

With its Family of Services approach, York Region Transit was able to merge all of its transit options, whether it is a rapid transit vehicle, a conventional bus, a community bus, an on-demand vehicle or a para-transit vehicle to provide a trip, depending on the passenger’s ability or need.

Within one of its garages, York Region Transit has built the first transit travel training center, allowing seniors, students, new Canadians and people with disabilities the opportunity to familiarize themselves with bus travel.   

“Apprehension at how to plan a trip, board a bus, finding a seat and how to pay a fare with a smart card is a deterrent to taking public transit and we are determined to mitigate that apprehension,” says Sharon Doyle, Mobility Plus manager at YRT.

“In the next couple of months, Mobility Plus will launch an app allowing passengers to book, cancel and review their trip and will have the additional features of requesting a same day booking and receiving the drivers estimated arrival time.”

The second phase will be available in the fall and will allow any passenger to request on-demand service and gain the ability to book trips in advance. The app will automatically plan their entire multi-modal journey from point of origin to destination. 


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