Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, transit service providers have a legal responsibility to ensure that transit systems are accessible to all Ontarians.
Many older persons depend of public transit services to go to work, to get to medical appointments, to go to the grocery store, to participate in recreational activities and to visit family and friends. Transit services that are not accessible can cause isolation and prevent participation of older persons in our communities.
Older persons with disabilities, especially disabilities associated with aging such as respiratory problems, heart conditions and cognitive impairments, often do not meet eligibility criteria for paratransit systems.
As well, the Commission’s work on transit accessibility has revealed that more needs to be doe to improve the accessibility of regular transit systems. This would include adding or improving ramps, elevators and escalators, increasing the number of buses with low floors and lifts, using bright contrasting floor materials and making improvements to audio and written announcements. In some cases, all that is required to make a system more respectful of the needs of older persons is greater sensitivity, for example by ensuring that an older person is seated before a vehicle starts to move.
Transit services should be barrier free and should accommodate the needs of older users, persons with disabilities and families with young children. In a Consultation Report entitled Human Rights and Public Transit Services in Ontario, released in April 2002, the Commission recommends a number of measures to be undertaken by transit providers and government to help achieve this goal.