The TTC has to retrofit all old subway stations with elevators, ramps and automatic doors so that disabled people can use them, but it won’t be able to meet the provincial requirement for all of them because of a $240 million capital shortfall.
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the TTC is required to make its transit system fully accessible by 2025. The commission has fulfilled the provincial requirement for its buses and streetcars but can’t meet the 2025 timeline for every subway station.
Of the TTC’s 69 subway stations, 37 are currently not fully accessible, including 17 that haven’t yet received funding for the retrofit.
“We want to do this but we do not have the dollars to do this,” TTC chair Maria Augimeri said. “We need a quarter of a billion dollars that’s not forthcoming from the province.”
All the new stations, such as Spadina subway extension, are built fully accessible and so will the LRTs, she said.
It’s the older stations slated for a construction start of 2018-23 that won’t meet their completion dates from 2020-2025.
“So we find ourselves in a dilemma. What do we do for the community that’s in wheelchairs?” Augimeri said.
Tim Epple, who has had multiple sclerosis for 12 years and has used a wheelchair for the past five years, said he feels like a second-class citizen when using public transit.
Healthy people “can go wherever they want. We can’t – people that are disabled in wheelchairs, scooters, even with walkers. It’s very hard and it is frustrating.”
One transit mobility advocate called the TTC claim of lack of money a joke.
“There is no reason why TTC shouldn’t be able to ensure that all of its subway stations are accessible to people with disabilities,” David Lepofsky said.
The “TTC publicly announced at public forums for riders with disabilities that they would have those stations accessible by 2025, so why are they short now?” he said.
The TTC board recently voted to use an operating surplus of $47 million for a fare freeze but council could still decide to spend up to three-quarters of that toward capital projects.
Augimeri said Toronto is the only city that doesn’t get funding from the province for public housing and public transit and that needs to change.
“It’s unacceptable that upper level governments, the governments that have the money to fund state of good repair and upgrades to public transit, aren’t giving us the money,” she said.
She urged Toronto residents to contact their provincial MPPs, particularly now that there’s a Liberal majority government that have stressed the importance of public transit.
“Let them put their money where their mouth is,” she said.
With files from Adrian Ghobrial
Below is a chart of the TTC stations that need funding to make them wheelchair accessible and the amount needed for each station.