Mayor says $41M to be invested in new buses and access hubs for Wheel-Trans
3 levels of government contributing funds for transit system for people with disabilities, Tory says
Mayor John Tory says $41 million from three levels of government will be invested in new buses, access hubs and IT upgrades for the transit system for people with disabilities known as Wheel-Trans.
The funds from federal, provincial and municipal coffers will be used to buy 120 accessible buses, create 18 new access hubs and make upgrades to the IT, telecommunications and booking systems of Wheel-Trans, according to the TTC in a news release on Tuesday.
Tory said that the money has been made available through the public transit infrastructure fund, a federal-provincial funding agreement with the city aimed at expanding and modernizing the city's transit system.
"I think as you well know, this funding does not fall from sky," Tory told reporters at the TTC Lakeshore Wheel-Trans Garage. "It takes hard work. It takes lots of advocacy."
The mayor said the city has repeatedly made the argument to federal and provincial officials that investments in public transit are needed to help make Toronto a functioning, accessible city. "And the governments have responded," he said.
"Today's investment in the new buses, fully accessible access hubs and upgraded technology will help to ensure that our customers will continue to enjoy safe, respectful and accessible Wheel-Trans service."
Tory said the federal government, in particular, provided "substantial amounts of money" that the city matched.
1 access hub already open
According to the TTC, the new Wheel-Trans buses will replace buses that have reached retirement age and the investment will ensure Wheel-Trans vehicles are reliable and meet new legislative requirements for emissions.
The new buses are more fuel efficient and less expensive to operate than older vehicles, the TTC added.
As for the access hubs, the TTC said they will provide customers with comfortable, well-lit and dry places to wait when transferring between Wheel-Trans and other TTC vehicles.
Stuart Green, spokesperson for the TTC, said the access hubs are brand new. One has been opened at Meadowvale Road and Sheppard Avenue East in Scarborough, he said.
The TTC said the investment in the Wheel-Trans telecommunications system will improve how customers book and contact its operations centre.
The upgrades will mean that Wheel-Trans will be better able to manage customer information and ride reservations. The funds will also allow the service to set up a new scheduling and dispatch system, with such communication channels as e-chat and mobile technologies, the TTC said.
'Lots of new changes coming up'
According to the TTC, $21.47 million will be spent on the new buses, while $19.55 million will be spent on the access hubs and IT systems.
Julie Dabrusin, Liberal MP for Toronto-Danforth, said the improvements to Wheel-Trans infrastructure will help "to get people moving around more quickly" in the city.
"Lots of new changes coming up and it really is because of the great partnership we have," she said.
In total, Toronto will receive up to $1.8 billion from the public transit infrastructure fund, launched two years ago.