Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Fighting with the TTC.

Isaiah and I recently learned that in January, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commision), brought in a program where people with a disability can have a support person accompany them for no extra cost on the bus/subway as long as they require assistance during the transit or at the destination. Awesome right? Yes.

The person with a disability just needs to apply for a 'I have a disability and need a support person with me or at my destination' card and since no one knew about the program, they are letting people use the honor system until March 30th to give everyone time to have their medical people fill out the paperwork, get passport pictures taken, and have the cards processed. 
Ever better right? Who doesn't love the honor system?

Bus drivers, that's who!

This morning, Isaiah and I decided we should take start taking advantage of this program since the only reason he is taking the bus is because he is my support person at physio (and let's face it, people with disabilities have to take advantage of the few perks they can get). Plus I took my oxygen in my wheely cart again today and he can carry it up and down the stairs a lot easier than me. I would think that I am the prime target audience of this new program as I require a support person at my destination but do not have a disability which requires the wheelchair bus service and once I get my transplant, I will continue to be a paying customer of the TTC. 

Great! Except the bus driver this morning had no idea what we were talking about. Isaiah got on the bus after me and told the driver that "I'm her support person, she just hasn't gotten the card yet." The bus driver replied with a "What are you talking about? You still have to pay. What is this program? Where did you get the idea that you could ride for free?"

After a lengthy discussion trying to explain the program to the TTC driver and describing how all the information is available on their website saying the honor system can be used until March, the bus driver finally agreed to let Isaiah on but was obviously not happy with it. He said he never heard of the program and that he would have to look into it further. I'm pretty sure he thought we were trying to scam the system.

Arggggghhhh. This pisses me off on so many levels.

Level 1: The TTC brought in this great program but obviously neglected to inform their drivers.

Level 2: Because drivers are not informed, in order to use the system, a person with a disability or their support person will have to fight every single time they want to take advantage of the program. Not because bus drivers are bad at their jobs, because they are not informed and therefore skeptical about people trying to get a free ride. That is exhausting to both the bus driver and the person with disability.

Level 3: Isaiah and I are the most non-confrontational people in the world so having to argue with the bus driver every time we travel to the hospital is a nightmare to me. I would rather drive than go through that three times a week.

Level 4: Because of our experience using the system the one time, after physio Isaiah ended up just paying because we were both too tired to argue with another TTC worker. I know that as an educated person with a disability, I have to stand up for my rights because no one else is more qualified than me. However, arguing is exhausting and I spent an hour and half exhausting myself at physio so I had no more energy for it today.

After the bad experience today, I am off tomorrow get my passport pictures done for the ID card. Even with the card, I'm sure the bus drivers won't have any idea what I'm talking about as they obviously weren't informed about the program. I still think we will have to argue every time we use the card and I'm not looking forward to it. I can only imagine the arguments that will take place post-transplant when I still require support but no longer need oxygen so I won't look like I have a disability. Argh!

Seriously TTC admin people, how hard is it to send a email to your bus drivers to tell them about your new program? If you are too understaffed to write a email, I will give you an example you can use.

"TTC employees: A new program has been implemented to allow people with disabilities to have a support person accompany them on the transit system. Only one fare will be required for both the person with a disability and the support person. Because we suck at PR and no one knew about this program until now, we are letting people use the honor system until March 30th. Don't worry about people trying to scam the system because if the people with disabilities don't know about the program, the general public definitely won't be informed. Take people at their word and remember that young people can have disabilities too. Don't be a asshole. Thank you."


NB said...

I LOVE you email example! It takes people like YOU to change the system - exhausting, it may be, but think of all the others you are also helping! Keep @ it!

Anonymous said...

I agree ------keep on----positive people help lead the change!

Mark Pitman said...

Allie - you are awesome in the way you make your voice heard!! I am sure that TTC will wholeheartedly endorse your proposed communication strategy!! LOL!! (...but it IS awesome!!)

David VanSlyke said...

Alley, did you attempt to contact the TTC and ask if (or how) their font line staff were informed about the "support person" program? I have experience the frustration of dealing with an organization when there is a disconnect between what the "corporate" side said and what was understood by those in the trenches. It's very frustrating. Perhaps it would be better to limit the angst and touch base with TTC head office to point out the "fail" you experienced.

By the way, I love reading your blog! Hang in there and all the best towards a speedy resolve.

Alley said...

So after venting my frustrations on here, I did send the TTC a message through their 'complaint' channels and explained my experience and requested that they inform their drivers about the new program. I requested a response from the appropriate parties so hopefully I will hear something in the next few days.