Decision No. 460-AT-R-2005
July 19, 2005
File No. U3570/04-5
In its Decision No. 115-AT-R-2005 dated March 3, 2005 (hereinafter the Decision), the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) made a determination with respect to an application filed by Meenu Sikand regarding her travel in a VIA-1 car with VIA Rail Canada Inc. (hereinafter VIA) from Toronto to Ottawa, Ontario, on December 2, 2003.
The Agency determined that the unavailability of a reserved tie-down, the lack of access to the washroom and the carrier's meal distribution policy constituted undue obstacles to Ms. Sikand's mobility and, as such, directed VIA to undertake the following measures within thirty (30) days from the date of the Decision:
- Provide the Agency with a copy of the procedures that have been put in place to ensure compliance with its policy on the number of tie-downs that are to be available for sale.
- Issue a bulletin to VIA personnel who may be required to interact with the public and/or to make decisions in respect of the carriage of persons with disabilities during the boarding process, emphasizing the importance of awareness and sensitivity to the particular needs of persons who will be without their mobility aids during the trip. This bulletin shall reinforce the importance of carrier personnel informing a passenger who uses a wheelchair and who will be transferring to a regular seat, of the services provided by VIA personnel to assist the person in moving to and from the washroom, as well as initiating such discussions in situations such as that experienced by Ms. Sikand in order to alleviate concerns the person might have with respect to his/her loss of independent access. The bulletin should also summarize the Agency's Decision in Ms. Sikand's case, without mentioning her name, as an example of the negative outcomes that may arise when VIA's personnel do not adequately inform a passenger with a disability of the available services to persons who transfer from their mobility aid to a regular seat. VIA was required to provide a copy of the bulletin to the Agency.
- Provide the Agency with a copy of the procedures that have been put in place to allow persons with disabilities to select their meal of choice at the point of reservation.
In a submission dated March 31, 2005, VIA advised the Agency that it was seeking leave to appeal the portion of the Decision dealing with VIA's meal distribution policy, and that VIA would be carrying out the Agency order with respect to the tie-down and the lack of access to the washroom matters. In addition, VIA requested a 30-day extension to meet the requirements of the Decision as they apply to the first two corrective measures, as set out above. In Decision No. LET-AT-R-103-2005 dated April 7, 2005, the Agency granted the requested extension, and on May 2, 2005, VIA filed its response.
The issue to be addressed is whether the measures taken by VIA with respect to the Agency's findings regarding the unavailability of a reserved wheelchair tie-down and the lack of access to the washroom meet the requirements of the Decision.
POSITION OF VIA
With its response dated May 2, 2005, VIA filed copies of the following documents:
- The VIA procedure which has been put in place with respect to the tie-downs that are to be available for sale in VIA-1 cars. Specifically, when a second VIA-1 car is added to a consist to meet demand on Corridor trains, this extra VIA-1 car will be loaded in VIANet inventory using a unique seat map with no wheelchair tie-down designated. It is further noted that passengers who require the use of a tie-down will not be offered space in the second car when VIA cannot ensure the car will be properly marshalled due to the last-minute addition to the consist.
- A bulletin dated April 26, 2005, issued to VIA personnel who may be required to interact with the public and/or make decisions in respect of the carriage of persons with disabilities during the boarding process and which
- summarizes the difficulties experienced by the applicant (without identifying her);
- outlines the manner in which VIA personnel should interact with passengers who will be without their mobility aids during a trip; and
- reviews the ways in which VIA personnel can offer assistance to passengers who will be without their mobility aids during a trip; specifically that personnel explain the mobility options that are available during the trip if for example the person needs to go to the washroom.
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The Agency has reviewed the information filed in response to the Decision with respect to the unavailability of a reserved wheelchair tie-down and the lack of access to the washroom. The Agency finds that the bulletin issued by VIA meets the requirements as set out in the Decision. The Agency further finds that VIA has put procedures in place to ensure compliance with its policy on the number of tie-downs that are to be available for sale.
In light of the foregoing, the Agency finds that the measures undertaken by VIA should prevent the recurrence of a situation similar to that experienced by Ms. Sikand with respect to the unavailability of a reserved wheelchair tie-down and the lack of access to the washroom. As such, the Agency is satisfied that VIA has met the requirements of the Decision with respect to the unavailability of a reserved wheelchair tie-down and the lack of access to the washroom. Accordingly, the Agency does not contemplate any further action with respect to these two requirements of the Decision.