The LTC’s ‘Courtesy Seating’ Response

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photoIn response to my letter that was dated 2008/09/05 (see: LTC ‘Courtesy’ Seating), the Commissioners deflected it to Administration for response. Mr. John Ford (LTC Director of Transportation & Planning) replied on behalf of Administration in a letter dated 2008/09/30 (click on graphic icon to view the letter in it’s original entirety) which was finally received by me yesterday:

Courtesy seats are provided for those who could benefit from them on a first come first serve basis. While the operator can request passengers to vacate the seats to make room for others who may require these seats more pressingly, it is not mandatory for a person to do so – the ultimate decision to move lies with the passenger.

London Transit provides service to all customers including those that require strollers, wheelchairs and scooters, provided there is enough room on the bus to safely do so. On occasion, our operators may request that the passengers move to the back of the bus and that strollers be moved or folded to accomodate other passengers. Our operators take customer safety into consideration when making the decision as to whether there is enough room on the bus to allow more passengers on board.

Mr. Ford’s response completely ignores the contrary personal experience that I described in my submission to the Commission, ie the fact that I was ordered to change seats by an operator in order to accomodate a large non-collapsable buggy. He ignores my specific question about what recourse passengers have in such situations, ie “What procedure ought to be followed by a passenger when confronted by an operator in this situation?” LTC users deserve a clear response to the question.

Mr. Ford’s answer is also contrary to signage which has just recently appeared in some buses, which appears to accord priority to wheelchair users.

Mr. Ford makes no attempt to justify why large non-collapsable buggies are permitted onboard a bus during summer months, when smaller collapsable strollers could easily be used.

I asked a very specific, very understandable question with respect to carriers, ie “Does the LTC have an official policy with respect to child carriers (ie. size, type, etc?”

Mr. Ford’s response ignores that question. It fails to identify if there’s an official policy. It suggests that operators may have some discretionary power in this situation, but it doesn’t clearly say that either. Is Mr. Ford trying to be confusing? Is this an attempt at evasion? LTC users deserve better transparency than this.

Although Mr. Ford makes a passing reference to hierarchy of disabilities, he made no real attempt to answer the specific question which I put to the Commission, ie “Does the LTC have an official policy which clearly identifies a hierarchy of need with respect to the use of courtesy seats?”

My interpretation of his slippery response is that disabled LTC users are not accorded that respect. The LTC appears to want us to think that they’re caring and compassionate, but without actually having to be. Why not a straightforward answer, eg. ‘We’d rather not have to deal with the disabilities issue and so we let users figure it out for themselves’? or ‘Those people ought to all use Paratransit’?

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2 Responses to “The LTC’s ‘Courtesy Seating’ Response”

  1. Jesse Says:

    Did you have the opportunity at the LTC Doors Open to ask your questions? I did ask the tour guide (only with reference to strollers though I’m afraid) and her response – “there is no official policy but you have the right to bring whatever size stroller you want on the bus.” I’d rather see a policy so that I know, as a stroller-pushing-mother, just what’s what.

    I think your final paragraph is probably the case.

  2. fowgre Says:

    I publicized the Doors Open but couldn’t get there myself. However, in the past I’ve talked directly to various senior LTC administrators about many different public transit issues.

    I think it’s important to point out that something told to you in a private conversation should not give you any great amount of confidence. The only thing that you can count on are official policies. You can use those to make a case if you have to.

    Also, why should LTC users have to deal with these kind of issues one-on-one, either in private conversation or private correspondence with them? Isn’t it easier and more transparent for all of us to expect them to adopt/publish official policy?

    That’s why I’ll be following up with another written submission to the next meeting of the Executive.

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