The sole elevator leading from street level to the concourse at Main Street subway station will be out of service until March 23, adding delays to the already complicated process of using the TTC for those with disabilities.
While the transit operator is working toward providing accessible service at all stations, the situation for disabled riders not using Wheel-Trans can be convoluted at the best of times. Current standards call for separate elevators for each platform, but some accessible stations, such as Main Street, have only a single elevator from the street to concourse level, where there are separate lifts to each train platform.
When, for example, one of the elevators to platform level is out of service, those who need the elevators are requested to ride a train in the wrong direction until reaching a station with two functioning lifts, ride up, cross over to the opposite platform then carry on in their original intended direction.
Signs were posted announcing the service disruption at Main Street, but some riders were not pleased with the short notice – not to mention the extra travel time that will be required to work around one of only five accessible subway stations in the East End being closed for several months.
Renee Knight says she is one of many who have moved to the Main and Danforth area in order to be near an accessible station. She suffers from pelvic and spinal issues, leaving her unable to climb or descend stairs.
She said the alternatives being offered by the TTC while the elevator is unavailable are not enough. Riders requiring elevators are instructed to take buses to Broadview or Kennedy stations from Main Street, or to use Pape or Victoria Park.
“The duty of care should fall on the service provider,” she said.
Knight teaches classes at several City of Toronto recreation centres, and travels an average of three and a half hours a day on TTC. She said rerouting using the TTC’s suggestions will add hours to her travel time.
Knight said the lack of practical alternatives during the shutdown indicates the TTC is not serious about providing accessible service.
“It’s not responsible to not have some kind of alternative available in the winter,” she said.
She believes a shuttle bus between Main Street and Victoria Park stations would be a reasonable option for the disabled community near Main Street station. However, the TTC has no such plans in the works.
“Essentially, no, the TTC will not be providing special service,” said TTC spokesperson Jessica Martin. “We apologize for the inconvenience, but these repairs are necessary.”
Martin said riders needing accessible options should visit the TTC’s website and use the trip planner, checking the ‘accessible routes’ option. As of press time, the trip planner did not provide routes avoiding Main Street station, so those with mobility issues will need to plan their own routes to and from the station using the 87 Cosburn bus route westbound to Broadview, or the 113 Danforth bus eastbound to Kennedy station.