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Metrolinx / GO Transit Accessible Customer Service Policy
for Implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA)

March 2010

1. Purpose and Background Information

  1. Purpose
    The purpose of this policy statement is to reinforce GO Transit’s commitment to provide safe, courteous and accessible public commuter rail and bus services in a manner that respects the dignity and independence of customers with disabilities and also supports the principles of integration and equal opportunity. On a broader level, and consistent with Metrolinx’s responsibility for GO Transit, this policy statement is also meant to reinforce Metrolinx’s commitment to providing transit services in an accessible manner.
  2. Background Information
    The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) is a Provincial Act with the purpose of developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility standards in order to achieve accessibility for persons with disabilities with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures and premises by 2025.
    Under the AODA, Ontario Regulation 429/07 entitled “Accessibility Standards for Customer Service,” came into force on January 1, 2008. That Regulation establishes accessibility standards specific to customer service for public sector organizations and other persons or organizations that provide goods and services to members of the public or other third parties.
    This policy is drafted in accordance with the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation 429/07) and addresses the following:
    • the provision of goods and services to customers with disabilities;
    • communication with customers with disabilities;
    • notice of temporary disruptions in services and facilities;
    • the use of assistive devices by customers with disabilities;
    • the use of service animals by customers with disabilities;
    • the use of support persons by customers with disabilities;
    • customer feedback regarding the provision of goods and services to customers with disabilities;
    • training; and
    • notice of availability and format of documents.

2. Application

This policy applies to all persons who interact with the public and those specifically designated, by contract to act, from time to time on behalf of Metrolinx. This includes persons who are employees (i.e., full time, part time and contracted Customer Service Ambassadors) and Members of Metrolinx’s and GO Transit’s Accessibility Advisory Committees.

3. Definitions

  1. Assistive (Appliance or) Device
    A device used to assist customers with disabilities in carrying out activities or in accessing the services of persons or organizations covered by the Customer Service Standard. Examples of these devices include, but are not necessarily limited to manual and powered wheelchairs, and scooters, wheeled and non-wheeled walkers, canes and crutches.
  2. Customer Service Ambassador (CSA)
    A member of the train crew, who, among other duties, operates the train doors, deploys the accessible bridge-plate and is responsible for on-board announcements and communication to customers.
  3. Disability
    Disability, defined to include:
    any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement that is caused by bodily injury, congenital disorder or illness and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, a brain injury, any degree of paralysis, amputation, lack of physical coordination, blindness or visual impediment, deafness or hearing impediment, muteness or speech impediment, or physical reliance on a guide dog or other animal or on a wheelchair or other assistive appliance or device;
    1. a condition of mental health or a developmental disability;
    2. a learning disability, or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in understanding or using symbols or spoken language;
    3. a mental health disorder; or
    4. an injury or disability for which benefits were claimed or received under the insurance plan established under the   Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.
  4. Front-Line Staff
    Front-line staff refers to GO employees (full-time, part-time, and contracted Customer Service Ambassadors) who have direct contact with GO customers. This includes station attendants, transit enforcement staff such as officers and customer attendants, and call centre staff such as telephone information guides and supervisors.
  5. Line Stations
    Rail stations on a rail line/corridor including terminus stations and excluding Union Station as it is a common terminus for all GO Rail services.
  6. Nurse
    A Registered Nurse or Registered Practical Nurse who is a registered member in good standing with the College of Nurses of Ontario.
  7. Physician
    A physician who is a registered member, in good standing, with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
  8. Service Animal
    Any animal used by a customer with a disability for reasons relating to the disability where it is readily apparent that the animal is used by the customer for reasons relating to his or her disability; or where the customer provides a letter from a physician or nurse confirming that he or she requires the animal for reasons relating to his or her disability; or a valid identification card signed by the Attorney General of Canada or a certificate of training from a recognized guide dog or service animal training school.
  9. Support Person
    A person who accompanies a customer with a disability in order to assist him or her with communication, mobility assistance, personal care, medical needs, or with access to goods or services.
  10. Wheeled Mobility Aid (WMA)
    A device used to assist customers with ambulatory disabilities in carrying out activities or in accessing the services of persons or organizations covered by the Customer Service Standard. Examples of these devices include, but are not necessarily limited to, manual and powered wheelchairs, scooters, and wheeled walkers.

4. Policy Statement

Metrolinx is committed to helping develop a coordinated, integrated, accessible transportation system that moves people and goods efficiently, economically and in an environmentally sustainable way. GO Transit, the operating division of Metrolinx, is committed to continuing to build and operate, for all customers, an effective, efficient fully accessible public commuter rail and bus service.

5. General Principles

  1. The Provision of Services to Customers with Disabilities
    Metrolinx and GO Transit will use reasonable efforts to ensure that its policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the following principles:
    • GO Transit’s services are provided in a manner that respects the dignity and independence of customers with disabilities;
    • the provision of GO Transit’s services to customers with disabilities are to be integrated with those provided to customers who do not have apparent disabilities, unless an alternative measure is necessary to enable a customer with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from GO Transit’s services; and
    • customers with disabilities are given opportunities equivalent to that of customers without disabilities to obtain, use or benefit from GO Transit’s services.
    A wheelchair or other assistive appliance or device of the customer with a disability will be permitted providing there is sufficient space to accommodate such articles in a safe manner.
  2. Communication with Customers with Disabilities
    Employees of Metrolinx and GO Transit will communicate with customers with disabilities in a manner that takes into account their disability(ies), applying the techniques set out in the corporate sensitivity training programs. GO Transit is committed to providing fully accessible customer service information via our website at www.gotransit.com, or by calling one of the phone numbers listed below;
    • (416) 869-3200, in the Toronto local calling area;
    • 1 (888) GET ON GO [438-6646], long distance toll free;
    • 1 (800) 387-3652 TTY teletypewriters.
    1. Route Destination Signs on GO Buses and at Train Stations
      All GO Buses are clearly marked with route destination signs. In addition, all stops are announced on both GO Trains and GO Buses, and station names are clearly marked at all train platforms.
      GO Transit is also in the process of developing bilingual signage that will consider the needs of customers with disabilities.
    2. Route Destination Signs on GO Buses and at Train Stations
      All GO Bus drivers and Customer Service Attendants on GO Transit are required to announce all stops:
      • prior to departure, including destination information and all connecting services;
      • at destination terminal locations informing passengers of all connecting buses, including the boarding platform number;
      • Upon arrival at all train stations and bus trip terminus points; and
      • Upon approaching every station, terminal bus stop.
    3. Corridor Timetables
      Printed corridor Timetables including information about accessible routes, accessible stations, and important contact telephone numbers is typically published five or six times per year. Also, to assist customers with disabilities in using GO Transit services, we have a guide for customers entitled “Discover GO Transit’s Accessible Services – A Guide for Customers.” Both are available on www.gotransit.com, through the above telephone numbers, and at GO Stations and Bus Terminals.
    4. Multilingual Information
      Multilingual information is available by calling:
      • (416) 869-3200, in the Toronto local calling area; or
      • 1 (888) GET ON GO (438-6646), long distance toll free.
  3. Notice of Temporary Disruptions in Services and Facilities
    GO Transit is aware that the operation of its services is of paramount importance to the public. However, temporary disruptions in GO Transit’s services and facilities (e.g., elevators) may occur due to reasons that may or may not be within GO Transit's control or knowledge. Reference to services includes both train and bus services, as well as supporting services.
    For the purpose of this policy statement, a “temporary disruption of service” is defined as a known or planned event that results in a deviation in regular service schedule and/or routing for an extended period of time, generally beyond one day. The known or planned nature of the event affords GO Transit the opportunity to implement a revised service routing and/or schedule and provide timely communication to its customers.
    The communication will include a reason for the disruption, the anticipated duration and a description of the alternative/amended routing and/or schedule as may be applicable. Such information will be provided from a menu of options, selected at the time as appropriate in the circumstances, giving consideration to time and duration. The options include:
    • various news media (radio, paper, television);
    • GO Transit E-news (on-line registration required);
    • GO Transit website;
    • GO Transit customer service staff;
    • Passenger Information System (PINS) screens at Union Station and on dynamic platform signage at most stations; and
    • Posting of the appropriate notice either at stations and affected stops, and/or on board the railcars/buses as appropriate (i.e., depending on the affected location(s), extent and/or mode of service).
    GO Train and Bus schedules are subject to rail/road traffic conditions and customers may have to make alternate travel arrangements in the event of major delays. Also, information about the availability of escalators and elevators is also available on the GO Transit website, or by calling GO Transit.

    For all other occurrences of service disruption, GO Transit, as considered appropriate in the circumstances, will make reasonable effort to advise the public of the disruption including information about the reason for the disruption, its anticipated duration, and a description of alternative/amended service if any, that may be available.
  4. Assistive Devices and other Measures that Assist with Accessibility
    A customer with a disability is to provide their own assistive device for the purpose of obtaining, using and benefiting from GO Transit’s services. Exceptions may occur in situations where GO Transit has determined that the assistive device (e.g., Segway) may pose a risk to the health and safety of a customer with a disability or the health and safety of others on the services and/or at the premises.
    In these situations and others, GO Transit may offer a customer with a disability other reasonable measures to assist him or her in obtaining, using and benefiting from GO Transit’s services, where GO Transit has such other measures available. This includes having the customer transfer from their assistive device to a seat in the vehicle.
    Customers with a disability are responsible to ensure their assistive device is operated in a safe and controlled manner at all times while accessing GO Transit services. This includes setting the brakes as appropriate on manual assistive devices (e.g., wheelchairs), or switching the power off for power assistive devices (e.g., wheelchairs or scooters).
    1. Boarding/Alighting
      1. Accessible GO Railcars
        When a train arrives or departs a designated accessible Train Station, a Customer Service Attendant (CSA) is required to place an accessible (folding) bridge-plate across the gap between the accessible railcar and the raised mini-platform. The bridge-plate is about 90 centimetres wide (3 feet) with a raised edge along its sides; it’s designed to hold a load no heavier than 270 kilograms (600 pounds).
        Customers are requested to wait until the bridge-plate is securely in place before crossing the bridge-plate in either direction. Customer Service Attendants (CSAs) or other train crew members cannot assist customers on or off the train. Customers requiring such assistance, should be accompanied by a support person (See Section 3 (f) for details).
      2. GO Buses
        All GO Buses are equipped with a lift/ramp to accommodate customers using wheeled mobility aids. Drivers are trained to deploy the lift/ramp and secure the wheeled mobility aid and the customer using a wheeled mobility aid. Customers with disabilities that require further assistance should be accompanied by a support person (See Section 3 (f) for details).
        Drivers are instructed to deploy the lift, upon request, at terminals and designated stops. Some express routes shall operate terminal to terminal only, while other interregional and local routes (with more frequent stops) shall service designated stops on route. See Driver’s Operating Timetable for more details.
    2. Securement
      1. Accessible GO Railcars
        Each of the eight (8) locations on the lower level of the accessible railcars, can accommodate customers who use mobility devices are equipped with a four-point belt securement system similar to that on GO Buses.
        Customers and/or their accompanying support person are responsible for ensuring that wheeled mobility devices are properly secured if use of this feature is desired.
        Wheeled mobility aid securement on accessible GO railcars is optional, as the discomfort and risk of injury to customers is considerably less than on buses.
      2. GO Buses
        Bus drivers are responsible for ensuring that wheeled mobility devices are properly secured, complete with the appropriate tie-downs and restraining devices and securely fastened before moving the bus. WMA securement on GO Buses is mandatory.
        Bus drivers are also responsible for ensuring that three-point personal securement (i.e., lap and shoulder belts) are securely fastened before moving the bus. The personal securement system on GO Buses is mandatory for customers using a WMA who are under 16 years of age and discretionary/optional for customers 16 years of age and older.
        In the event that a customer, traveling with a support person, who wishes to secure the mobility device, must have the driver check to ensure the devices have been properly secured.
        Should the customer object to having his or her mobility device secured, the driver will advise that it is mandatory for safety reasons. If the problem persists, the driver will contact dispatch and request assistance.
        Customers using scooters shall be offered and encouraged to transfer into a seat immediately in front of or behind their device (i.e., in the Priority Seating area). The final decision to move from the scooter shall be left to the discretion of the customer who is using the scooter. If the customer using a scooter decides to move into a seat, he/she should attempt to occupy a seat that is immediately in front of or behind their device, especially if the customer has an oxygen line or similar apparatus, so that the line doesn’t trail across the aisle of the bus.
        Drivers will be expected to perform all duties related to boarding/deboarding and securing customer using a wheeled mobility aid. This will include the preparation of the WMA area – folding of seats, safe lift operation and fully securing the wheeled mobility aid using the four point belt system, as well as the customer shoulder and lap belts, if requested. If the customer is younger than 16 years old, the lap and shoulder belt must be secured.
      3. Seating Options
        1. Priority Seating
          Priority Seating is available on GO Buses and on the lower level of the designated accessible railcar, which is the 5th railcar behind the locomotive.
          When a GO Train stops at an accessible station this railcar is positioned adjacent to the raised mini-platform and the on-board Customer Service Ambassador deploys the portable bridge-plate at this location.
          Also, signs are mounted on buses and railcars instructing passengers to make a seat available in the designated Priority Seating areas to a customer with a disability or a physical limitation. Other than the vestibule areas on the accessible railcar, these are the only areas that can accommodate customers using WMAs.
        2. Courtesy Seating
          Courtesy Seating is available on GO Buses and railcars (other than the designated accessible railcar). If a customer is on a non-accessible railcar and needs a seat due to mobility difficulties, pregnancy, illness, etc., they are encouraged to ask a non-disabled customer to voluntarily vacate a courtesy seat.
    3. Wayfinding Assistance
      Whenever a GO Transit employee is on duty at any GO Transit station and a customer with a disability who has arrived at least 15 minutes prior to his/her departure time requests assistance in finding a bus or train platform, the GO Transit employee will provide or arrange for such requested wayfinding assistance. If a customer with a disability arrives within 15 minutes of his/her departure time and requests wayfinding assistance, GO Transit employees will make reasonable efforts to provide assistance. In addition to assistance in locating the train or bus on departure, GO employees will provide assistance at transfer points when there is a station attendant on duty.
  5. Service Animals
    Service animals accompanying customers with disabilities are permitted on all GO Transit services and/or enter premises owned and operated, or operated by GO Transit at all times, noting such permission may be subject to presentation of the appropriate identification by the owner. A customer traveling with the aid of a seeing-eye, hearing ear or special skills dog can still travel with a support person on a “Party Ticket.”
    Pets are not permitted on the service or on the premises unless it is in an enclosed container that must be secured and does not inconvenience other customers with the exception of sight guide dogs, hearing-ear dogs or special-skills dogs with customers with disabilities, or a trainer of a skills dog. It is the responsibility of the customer with a disability to ensure that his or her service animal is kept in control at all times.
  6. Support Persons
    A customer with a disability may utilize the services and/or enter premises owned and operated, or operated, by GO Transit with a support person and have access to the support person while on the service and/or on the premises.
    Customers that require physical assistance during their use of GO Transit services (including physical assistance to board or alight from a bus or train) should be accompanied by a support person capable of aiding such customers on and off the bus or train and during their use of GO Transit services.
    1. Party Ticket
      If a customer has a disability that hinders his or her ability to travel alone, the customer may purchase a single ticket or day pass, at the rate for that support person as set out in the fare chart, and may have the ticket or pass endorsed by a proper authority as a Party Ticket for the carriage of both the customer and the support person accompanying him or her.
      Marking of “Party Ticket” - The regular form ticket or pass will be used and endorsed by a proper authority as a “Party Ticket” on the ticket or pass issued for the customer with a disability. This privilege permits the customer with a disability and support person to travel together on one “Party Ticket.” Once endorsed as a Party Ticket, the customer must be accompanied by the support person for the duration of the trip.
      Fare information is posted at station ticket sales locations and is available online at www.gotransit.com.
  7. Feedback
    GO Transit is committed to ensuring that its services and operations are as accessible as possible to all Ontarians. To meet these commitments, GO Transit will incorporate enhanced accessibility in all additions and improvements to GO Transit services and operations.
    Feedback from the public is welcomed as it may identify areas that require change and encourage continuous service improvements. Feedback about the delivery of goods and services to customers with disabilities may be given by telephone, in person, in writing, in electronic format or through other methods.
    Information about the feedback process will be readily available to the public and notice of the process will be posted on our website and/or in other appropriate locations.
    All feedback is taken seriously and each customer communication is directed to the responsible GO Transit Operating Division(s) or Department(s) for review and necessary action. Customers with complaints, compliments, or suggestions can submit their feedback online at www.gotransit.com, or by calling Customer Service at:
    • 416-869-3200 in the Toronto local calling area;
    • 1-888-GET ON GO (438-6646) long distance toll free;
    • 1-800-387-3652 TTY teletypewriters;
    • in person/by mail at GO Transit’s Head Office: 20 Bay Street, Suite #600, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2W3, or
    • at the Customer Service Centre at Union Station, which is staffed weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and weekends and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Customers are requested to call in advance to confirm hours of operation.
  8. Accessible Training Initiatives
    1. Sensitivity Training
      Metrolinx will ensure that all persons to whom this policy applies (i.e., employees who provide direct or indirect service) receive training as required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service. The amount and format of training given is tailored to suit each person’s interactions with the public and his or her involvement in the development of policies, procedures and practices pertaining to the provision of goods and services. This training includes:
      • An overview of the purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the requirements of the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation 429/07);
      • Successful completion of AODA Customer Service Standard on-line training module (available through “AccessON.ca”);
      • Instruction on GO Transit policies, procedures and practices pertaining to the provision of goods and services to customers with disabilities;
      • Instruction on how to interact with customers with disabilities who use assistive devices or who require the assistance of a support person or service animal;
      • Information about the equipment or devices available on GO Transit premises that may help with the provision of the services to customers with disabilities; and
      • Instruction on what to do if a customer with a particular type of disability is having difficulty accessing GO Transit services.
      All front-line employees receive this training prior to assuming the duties and responsibilities of their jobs and at least once every five years thereafter. All employees providing indirect service (i.e., those involved in the development of policies, procedures and practices pertaining to the provision of goods and services) will receive and have ongoing access to an online program which complies with AODA standards.
    2. Sensitivity Training - Train Conductors (Bombardier and CPR)
      Customer Service Ambassadors are trained on sensitivity through the P.L.E.A.S.E.* Customer Service program, which is GO Transit’s one-day customer service course customized for train conductors. Even though GO Transit rail service has been designed for customer self-service, this sensitivity component has been added to enhance interaction with the public. This training will be refreshed at least once every five years.
      NOTE: The acronym “P.L.E.A.S.E. refers to the following primary course components:
      Project a professional image
      Listen actively
      Establish Positive relationships
      Aim at the situation, not the person
      Service with a value-added touch
      End on a positive note
    3. Accessibility/Sensitivity Refresher Training for Bus Drivers and Other Front-Line Staff
      The accessibility refresher training program for all GO Transit bus drivers and route supervisors covers the same topics/content as the initial accessibility training program. This includes a review of accessible features, policies and procedures, such as the operation of the lifts on all types of lift-equipped buses, and the securement of customers using WMAs together with their devices. All existing drivers have completed the initial training session and ongoing refresher training will take place on a three-year cycle.
      Accessibility refresher training for all other front-line staff and supervisors takes place every three to five (3-5) years depending on the level of direct interaction with customers and/or employees with disabilities. This training program is also provided as individual training needs are identified.
    4. Refamiliarization Training for Bus Drivers
      Onsite accessibility refresher training is conducted several days prior to the launch of any new accessible bus route at the garage where the route originates. Training is conducted with the specific type(s) of lift-equipped bus(es) that will be used on the route.
      All accessibility-related procedures and equipment are reviewed with the drivers and route supervisors, with particular emphasis on customer boarding, deboarding and securement.
    5. Sign Language Training
      In September, 2006, GO Transit approved an enhancement to its continuing education program by fully subsidizing sign language training for any GO Transit employees who successfully completes an approved course.
    6. Timeline for Training
      The training requirements are addressed through a many programs and initiatives using a variety of training approaches. Training is provided as soon as reasonably possible, and is based upon an individual being assigned the applicable duties. It is also provided on an ongoing basis, as changes occur to the applicable corporate policies, procedures and practices governing the provision of services to customers with disabilities.
    7. Records of Training
      Metrolinx and GO Transit will keep records of the training, including the date on which training is provided and the number of individuals to whom it is provided. The names of individuals trained will be recorded for training administration purposes, subject to the Provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

6. Availability and Format of Documents Required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service (Ontario Regulation 429/07)

Recognizing its responsibility under various pieces of Federal and Provincial legislation, and Metrolinx’s intent to fulfill its mandate in an open and accessible manner, Metrolinx supports the principles with respect to freedom of access to information and protection of personal information, as defined in the National Standard of Canada Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information (Can/CSA 830-96). The principles cover the areas of:

  • Accountability;
  • Identifying purposes of collection;
  • Limiting collection to the purposes required;
  • Limiting use, disclosure and retention of personal information to that reasonably related to the stated purpose of collection;
  • Accuracy in collecting and maintaining records;
  • Safeguarding the information collected;
  • Providing individual access; and
  • Addressing challenges regarding compliance.

Further, GO Transit designates the Managing Director as being accountable on behalf of GO Transit for the implementation of these principles in all aspects of GO Transit’s functions.
All documents required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, including Metrolinx and GO Transit’s Accessible Customer Service policies, procedures and practices, notices of temporary disruptions, training records, and written feedback process are available upon request, subject to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
When providing a document to a customer with a disability, GO Transit will provide the document, or the information contained in the document, in a format that takes into account their disability.

7. Notice of the Availability of Documents

Notice of the availability of all documents required by the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service will be posted on the Metrolinx and GO Transit websites, and will be made available through the Managing Director’s office or the Vice-President of Customer Service, through our General Information telephone numbers at:

  • 1-888-GET-ON-GO (438-6646) or 416-869-3200.

This policy statement and any other service related document available to the public will be made available upon request to customers, in a format that takes into account their disability. The length of time it will take to produce information in alternative formats will depend on the format requested; however, every effort will be made to process requests in a timely fashion.

8. Training of Independent Contractors

Responsibility for training of independent ticket agencies that sell GO Transit’s fare media belongs to the individual agency, not GO Transit. This policy recognizes the independence of the agencies, noting the selling of fare media is not an integral or essential part of the agency’s business and as such GO Transit does not exercise control over such businesses, the manner in which they conduct their business, nor in the training and monitoring of employees.

9. Supporting or Linked Policy/Procedure Documents

  • Standing GO Rail and Bus Operating Procedures – Accessible Conventional Transit Services
  • GO Transit – Passenger Tariff
  • GO Transit – Freedom of Information and Right to Privacy Policy
  • GO Transit – Purchasing Policy
  • GO Transit – Policy Respecting Ontario Human Rights

10. Link to Other AODA Standards

The Customer Service Standard policy statement herein described is subject to review and amendment from time to time as other common and sector specific standards developed under the AODA come into force.

ACCESSIBILITY SERVICES

Metrolinx is committed to helping develop a coordinated, integrated, accessible transportation system that moves people and goods efficiently, economically and in an environmentally sustainable way. GO Transit, the operating division of Metrolinx, is committed to continuing to build and operate, for all customers, an effective, efficient fully accessible public commuter rail and bus service.

REFERENCES

Ontario Regulation 429/07 (Customer Service), Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

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