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An underground station on Vancouver's SkyTrain rapid transit system. It's rush hour, and a train approaches the station platform. In the centre of the image is a brushstroke overlay with the text: Get on Board!

Get on board with accessible public transit

Main Content

People with sight loss continue to loudly voice that transportation barriers are among the greatest they face, whether they live in rural or urban environments. The issue? Inaccessible transportation systems and built environment barriers put the community of people with sight loss in dangerous and stressful situations when travelling. That’s why CNIB has made Safe and Accessible Journeys a commitment under our 2023-2028 strategic plan, “The Way Forward”.  

Better transit = better quality of life. 

Public transit systems can create equal opportunities for everyone to travel within their community, but only when they are accessible and reliable. Without it, people who are blind, Deafblind, or have low vision are forced to rely on personal networks for assistance or risk using unsafe services to meet their needs, which may result in reduced independence, limited recreational and employment opportunities, and increased social isolation.  

People who are blind, Deafblind, or have low vision need safe and accessible transit options.

This is the right of all persons with disabilities under the federal Accessible Canada Act, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and provincial accessibility legislation across the country.

Get on Board transit campaign 

In the fall of 2023, CNIB launched the “Get on Board!” advocacy campaign as the first initiative under our new strategic plan. Targeting buses, light rail, and ferries across 13 transit authorities, the campaign involved a secret rider survey designed to help us learn more about the level of accessibility of these transit systems and culminated in regional Transit Town Halls bringing officials and community members together to discuss the survey results and what’s needed to make their local transit systems more accessible. 

Get on Board – phase two

This spring, we’re excited to launch phase two of the “Get on Board!” campaign, this time targeting 12 new municipalities in Canada. Like the fall campaign, phase two of “Get on Board” will involve a secret rider survey for people to provide feedback on the barriers they encounter while using public transit as well as organized transit ride-a-longs with community members and local public officials.

At present, the focus of this campaign will be limited to public fixed-route transit systems operating in the following 12 regions: 

  • Victoria, BC
  • Calgary, AB
  • Regina, SK
  • Brandon, MB
  • Thunder Bay, ON
  • Toronto, ON
  • Ottawa, ON
  • Quebec City, QC
  • Fredericton, NB
  • Yarmouth, NS
  • Goose Bay, NL
  • Summerside, PEI

Advocate with us 

Get involved

If you live in one of the 12 municipalities listed above, we hope you’ll join us in advocating for accessible public transit by participating in an undercover mission to improve public transit systems! Here’s how you can Get on Board:

  1. Ride public transit and share your insights. From now until June 6, ride public transit and share your opinions by participating in a survey about your transit experience. 
  2. Hear what other “secret riders” had to say and share your feedback at an in-person Town Hall. During the weeks of May 27 and June 3, join us for a local town hall where we’ll engage local decision-makers on regional transit accessibility issues, examine the early secret-rider survey findings, and discuss key findings and recommendations.

Requests for participants

  • While on your transit journey, try to have at least one interaction with a customer service representative of the transit authority. This might involve asking someone a question at the station, interacting with the driver, or calling the transit authority phone line to ask them a question. 
  • Before, during, or following your trip, try to review the transit authority’s website to evaluate the accessibility of the information provided. Even if you didn’t use the website to plan your trip, can you access transit information?  
  • If your transit authority has an app, how accessible is it? 

Get on Board!

Your involvement will help us grow the conversation around the lack of accessible public transit in many parts of Canada. By participating, you'll play a crucial role in creating accessible transit solutions for everyone, regardless of where they live.

We hope you’ll “Get on Board” and share your experiences and ideas on how we can improve the accessibility of local transit – because everyone should be able to rely on public transit to travel safely and independently, whether across town or the country.

If your region is not included, we still welcome your participation! To get involved in. the larger campaign, please email advocacy@cnib.ca, and we’ll keep you updated on future opportunities.