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King Street pilot project sparks accessibility issues

Last Updated Nov 17, 2017 at 11:26 am EST

Less than one week after the start of the King Street Pilot Project, one woman says she’s concerned the new rules are making transportation inaccessible for people who live with a disability.

Vicki Cal has been using Wheel-Trans for the last three years, getting picked up from her east-end home and getting dropped off in front of the Scotia Plaza on King St. between Yonge and Bay. But on Wednesday, she says a parking enforcement officer told her Wheel-Trans driver due to the new pilot rules, Cal would have to wait at one of the designated pick-up areas along King Street.

“There is a reason why people have Wheel-Trans service, it’s not like you’re waiting for a normal bus service,” Cal tells CityNews. “There was no notification that my waiting area was going to change, I never got any notification from Wheel-Trans that this was going to change.”

Though there is a designated area at the end of the block, Cal, who uses a walker to get around, says it raises several issues. She was able to wait inside her building until her Wheel-Trans bus arrived, and that’s been especially helpful, on days where she says there have been some weather or traffic delays. Now, it would mean braving the elements and waiting outside in the cold to get picked up, and using her walker on potentially snowy or slippery sidewalks.

“You add uneven pavement, then you add things like freezing rain so you have slippery sidewalks or snow,” she explains. “So then it becomes treacherous to even walk 200 yards or whatever it is to get to the end of the block.”

The King Street Pilot Project prioritizes streetcars, while vehicles get diverted from Bathurst to Jarvis. It was implemented as a means to improve transit and tackle congestion along one of the city’s most busiest streets.

The TTC says there are designated areas for Wheel-Trans drop offs along King Street to accommodate customers, like any other parts of the city.

“There are areas where it’s safe or more appropriate to do so, depending on time of day. This will allow for pick-up and drop-offs during peak hours on King St.,” said Brad Ross, Executive Director of Corporate Communications with the TTC.

“The pilot just started on Sunday, there are some wrinkles that we’ll need to work out and if there are some issues with something that happened this morning and some direction was given that was incorrect, we can work though all of that and we can get to the bottom of that and make sure we don’t have any repeats.”

It’s unknown why Cal was told she wouldn’t be able to get picked up from the front of the King St. building, but Ross tells CityNews the TTC is currently looking into that.

“We do everything we can to accommodate our customers, especially our Wheel-Trans customers, recognizing that they have mobility challenges,” Ross said. “If there’s some issues that needs to be resolved, we can look at that.”

The designated areas are usually marked, but Ross says there’s still some signage that needs to be added along King St.

Click here for a list of the designated stops or to contact the TTC with concerns about the pilot project.