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How many is too many complaints for the TTC?

Posted by Derek Flack / November 18, 2010

TTC complaint increaseTTC complaints are on the rise in 2010, despite the Commission's highly publicized re-commitment to customer service. According to numbers published in the Globe and Mail, through the beginning of the year to October, the TTC received a total of 28,360 complaints, which represents a 15 per cent increase over the same period in 2009.

On the surface that sounds pretty bad. But perhaps this is one of those statistics that requires a bit of context. A quick bit of math reveals that this number works out to a daily average of about 93. Although that's surely enough to keep the person fielding them pretty busy, it's not really the damning indictment of the TTC it could all too easily be made out to be. With over two million trips taken each day, the ride-to-complaint ratio is really quite low.

I'm not suggesting that the TTC doesn't have significant room to improve or that an increase in complaints should be disregarded altogether, but my sense is that the current daily average is well within the limits of reason. And, to be fair, this year's numbers also reveal an increased number of rider compliments to front-line staff (up 32 per cent from last year).

What do you think? Am I being too generous? What would a reasonable number of daily complaints be?

Photo by thru the night in the blogTO Flickr pool.



Ryan L. / November 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm
If the number seeks low, remember that the union requires written and signed and mailed complaints. Imagine how many more they'd get via phone or internet.
jay / November 18, 2010 at 11:12 pm
I completely disagree with this post. I believe that there are many people that want to make a complaint, but simply don't bother to do so. As Canadians were are very polite and simply don't make an issue out of things. This ofcourse makes businesses take advantage of us and give us mediocre service. Plus, myself I I have seen many others who have been very frustrated with the service, and pick up the phone to complain but you have to wait on the phone for a while sometimes, and they simply hang up the phone out of annoyance. If there was a simple and quick one process to lodge a complaint, the TTC lines will crash, believe me. Everyday single day I wait for the bus for 20 mins or longer, and then ee a cluster of 3 buses come together...that means a complaint everyday, I simply have become use to the bulshit dont bother complaining anymore.
Oliver / November 18, 2010 at 11:13 pm
It's also reasonable to add that they've recently added many ways to complain quickly and easily. Twitter to @brad, twitter in general, TTC notices, facebook, etc., all mean that people can grumble without effort. My guess is that that statistic doesn't represent an increase in grumbles, rather a vast increase in ease of venting (and given the amount of exposure to commentary that they've given themselves over the last year, it's much less than I would have expected, especially considering the growth of that media).
bob replying to a comment from jay / November 18, 2010 at 11:27 pm
Canadians polite? Sure.

Torontonians polite? No, I don't think so.
Derek replying to a comment from Ryan L. / November 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm
The stats above reflect complaints submitted via email, snail mail and phone.
TheWord replying to a comment from bob / November 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm
Now now, Bob. That's not very nice. You must either be a self-hating Torontonian or a Torontonian hating Canadian (which, I must add, is not very polite or Canadian of you).

As for the TTC. I think these numbers are promising. Even if we were to multiply the number of complaints by 100 - which some companies do to compensate for cumbersome complaint processes - the number is still relatively low when we consider how many daily riders there are.

Michael / November 18, 2010 at 11:58 pm
I love that picture.

Is there anything more frustrating than that sight?
Scott / November 19, 2010 at 12:46 am
I completely agree with a fellow commenter. I recently filed a complaint regarding me witnessing a subway driver talking to a customer while the the train was in motion for a good 30sec.

The complaints process required a signed complaint about a specific employee be faxed or mailed to the TTC. This might have been an acceptable requirement 10-15 years ago but now in the digital age where companies like airlines are fielding complaints from online forms, email, and even now twitter the ttc's method is outdated and biased to the advantage of the union.

Eliminate the barriers to the process and I think the TTC would see the honest and quantifiable issues riders have. No longer would it be general complaints they get in surveys but this employee on this day did something completely unacceptable. It would make it way easier for them to follow up with their 'bad apple's and reward the great employees with an avenue for easy employee recognition.
Thomas / November 19, 2010 at 02:11 am
how many dissatisfied customers call the number at the back of a package? exactly.
priyanka / November 19, 2010 at 04:42 am
how many dissatisfied customers call the number at the back of a package? exactly.
Trapas / November 19, 2010 at 08:31 am
Why should I write letters of complaint when it's easy to bitch about my irks here on BlogTO?

HUK replying to a comment from priyanka / November 19, 2010 at 09:02 am
Your package is disappointing. Who should I call?
Brad / November 19, 2010 at 09:38 am
The formal complaint process is too difficult.
I do complain with their online form whenever my bus is late, but it's frustrating since you will never get a response, what happens to those complaints? Do they go straight to the delete bin?
KL / November 19, 2010 at 09:39 am
I say we just go back to videotaping them and calling them out.

I wish I had a camera the other day. At a station, there was a collector at the gates and two inside the booth. The collector by the gates engaged in a LENGTHY chat with a FOURTH co-worker first and then with a customer she seemed friendly with (I was waiting for someone at the station) while customer after customer sneaked by her without paying. Meanwhile, I don't want to interrupt this collector from her deep thoughts, so I take a look at the two employees inside the booth. As expected, fully engaged in conversation, looking directly at their helpless co-worker fail to ASK CUSTOMERS TO PAY THEIR FLIPPING FARES.
Alex / November 19, 2010 at 09:47 am
I hate the TTC and probably have 8-10 complaints a year about drivers letting people on without paying, dawdling on my time, having 3-4 guys in a booth with only one of them "working" and on and on...

And I've never complained...what's the point? It's a horrible union that doesn't give a crap. Plus they make complaining, big shock, as hard as possible on purpose to dissuade people from doing it.
Foo / November 19, 2010 at 11:22 am
Way too generous. Most people just can't be bothered to complain for whatever reason. If there was a good way to calculate legitimate complaints from people who said "I'm going to complain when I get home" but never did, the number you quoted would probably increase by a significant order of magnitude.

It's amazing what people are willing to put up with. I've amazed myself waiting somewhat patiently for a sardine can College streetcar that takes 25 minutes to arrive at 5:30pm on a weekday.

In general, the service is abysmal sometimes and most people don't complain about it. Period.
Rob / November 19, 2010 at 11:50 am
The number also doesn't take into account the number of needless or over-dramatised complaints filed by customers who expect the world of the TTC. The number of people who "bitch" or moan because they have to wait 10 minutes longer for their bus because of weather, accidents, construction or other non-controllable events is asstounding! For every person unwilling to go through the process of filing a complaint, there is an equal number with nothing better to do then file one for every little inconvience that disrupts their lives, without taking into account the reason why!!
Tootsie / November 19, 2010 at 11:53 am
These comments should be printed off and sent to the TTC.
Displays / November 19, 2010 at 12:03 pm
Sometimes I don't really understand my fellows.
1) How difficult is it to fill an online form ?
2) How difficult is it to mail or fax the signed form if you are complaining about a "specific" employee ?

Their surveys are an another way of mesuring the customer satisfaction if people are too lazy to complain

Nerfgun / November 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm
Yeah. I actually think that is probably a super-high number of complaints considering the hoops you have to jump through.

And it'll stay the same for the next 4 years, if not go backwards - thanks 905ers.
Katia replying to a comment from bob / November 19, 2010 at 01:27 pm
bob said: Canadians polite? Sure. ... Torontonians polite? No, I don't think so.

bob, let me guess, you're from the midwest, where many residents seem to think toronto is home of the bogeyman. i've never understood that weird notion. it seems quite prevalent, yet based in ignorance.

torontonians are typically very considerate and polite. and, on average, less xenophobic that people from other regions.
I'm Just Saying... / November 19, 2010 at 04:45 pm
I take on average 3 trips a day on the TTC (and ride three vehicles per trip). The majority of these rides give me a reason to complain--but I don't.

Many people have complaints because a) they aren't complainers; b) they're too busy; or c) they don't who or where to complain too.

I think the writer is giving the TTC too much credit.
I'm Just Saying... replying to a comment from bob / November 19, 2010 at 04:47 pm
Funny you should say that. I went to Carleton University and I found the people in Ottawa far ruder than those in Toronto or even New York City.

That old stereotype does not hold true anymore.
Randy / November 19, 2010 at 07:31 pm
The fault with the TTC lies on both sides.

A good friend of mine has driven the streetcar for almost 30 years. I have sat behind him, watching the attitude of some passengers. Atrocious! In less than 15 minutes along Queen, he had people try to 1) pass off week-old transfers as "valid," then argue about it 2) some guy refusing to pay, saying "the last driver told me it was OK!" My friend handled the situations more calmly than I would havem with some screaming lunatic in his face trying to defend himself.

On the other side, I have seen drivers being insufferably rude, including one jerk who made fun of a Black man from Nairobi who asked where City Hall was (he mocked his accent), and started "flirting" with a girl who was no more than 14 or 15. Yes, I reported the driver.

It's not an issue of who's right and who's wrong, it comes down to professionalism and courtesy. I am sick of passengers treating the system like it is their filthy living room, spilling coffee on the seats, and leaving trash all over the place -- take your garbage with you!
bob replying to a comment from Katia / November 21, 2010 at 01:15 pm
Well, of course someone like you would know what polite is!
Mike / November 21, 2010 at 09:48 pm
You really think 100 complaints A DAY isn't much? I don't know if you're generous or retarded. I also bet the number of complaints is a VAST underrepresentation of the actual amount of dissatisfaction with the ttc. That's 100 people who are so pissed off that they actually held a grudge long enough to get to a phone or computer or a place to write a letter, and then actually took the time and effort to make a complaint. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Every time I go to Jane station to catch a bus I stand there waiting while 3 buses sit in the station while 3 drivers on the same route take their coffee breaks at the same time. This happens every single day. Imagining it only happened once a week, and I complained each time that would be 50 complaints a year. It would also increase the total number of complaints by 0.2%. Now imagine everyone else waiting for the bus with me complained, that's another 5000 a year, well all of a sudden complaints have gone up by 20% because people actually complain about 1 problem that happens on 1 bus route.
Victor replying to a comment from Mike / December 3, 2010 at 06:02 pm
TTC is a sorry excuse for a city public transit. Every single day, I wait for the 95 york mills bus from my school; and the shortest wait was 5 minutes. Usually, when one does come, it is jam packed, and then the bus driver gets pissed off for us trying to get on and says in a tiered voice "god! there's like 4 buses behind me! get on the next one! Well, can't these near-asleep bus drivers map out their time like bus 1 leaves the station at 3:00. Bus 2 leaves 5 minutes after. Bus 3 leaves 5 minutes after that. Instead of leaving at the SAME TIME!!. I've seen this bull shit all over the city too. Also, i was coming home from downtown, and i arrived from castle frank st. to pape st. waiting for the 25 don mills bus (i live in the don mills and Lawrence area). From cabbage town to pape, it took me 10 minutes. From pape to home:2 00 hours, when it is a 30-40 minute commute. RIDICULOUS! I waited 55 minutes for the bus, when it arrived the driver said: "OK PEOPLE HURRY UP, GET IN, I'M BEHIND SCHEDULE!!" -no shit you are, i whispered to myself. The worst thing was there was no bloody explanation for the delay!! And, while i was waiting, 6 other buses came (but they weren't the 25 and lead somewhere else) Now, When we finally got moving, it took me over an hour to get home, because there was construction on the Pape/Milwood bridge, so i thought ok, i guess this is the reason...but no! the construction was on the north flowing traffic side (north from pape st) not on the south flowing traffic, (going south to pape station)! which meant that traffic wasn't the reason for the hour delay! Utter bulshit! and now, being 14, i didn't bother going through the trouble of writing a complaint, and probably no one did from that jam packed bus. TTC pisses me off. I wish TTC staff could to to Europe and see the public transit system in germany: fricken amazing! The most a bus was late in Germany was 4 minutes!! That is how it is done. Also, the staff there actually have emotions; they say hi, good day, and have a smile on their face, unlike these idiots in Toronto, all in all, i hope it improves in the future, but i doubt it.
gash77 / February 28, 2011 at 06:16 pm
Today is February 28th 2011 and its actually my birthday and it was just about to be my last day of my life !! when i was crossing the street at Parliament and Gerrard at about 5:40 PM I had the pedistrian crossing signal and i strated to cross the street, Street Car number 4086 came by and started to make a right turn without lowering the speed or anything almost hit me i had to runn to get out of his way , i was really shocked and scared i started shouting at the TTC driver he just showed me his middle finger and drove away ,i tried calling the TTC complaints line i got the answering machine telling me to leave a mesage ...
whippinghand / May 24, 2011 at 09:07 pm
Torontonions are simply not inclined to complain. If someone is being harassed, TTC riders are not likely to pipe up. I've seen it regularly enough.

Regardless, the TTC just doesn't seem to care.
JoAnne / July 5, 2011 at 02:10 pm
How's this,
Shouldn't it be manditory that these new buses have their air conditioning turned on at all times when it's 30 degrees outside, exspecially when you can't open a window. I almost passed out from the lack of air on the bus this wonder you here about medical emergencies...thank god I'm not that old.
Kay / December 8, 2011 at 03:49 pm
Rob ford you have to resign you are not doing good to ttc running
LONNY PEARSON / February 20, 2013 at 08:56 am
Jason / August 31, 2014 at 01:09 am
My name is Jason . I want to compliant the guy who's working at fare collector . At around 19:50pm on August 30 ,2014 .I put $3 in and try to purchases a token from the token machine .When I put the money in I doesn't recognize the machine is out of service and the coin is stuck inside . And I go to the fare collector and try to asking about what can I do for that's happen, when I talk to the guy who working there and I think he will be the right guy can help me to solved this problem , but when I talk to him ,he not giving me an answer or hint , he say "why you put the money in if the machine is out of service?" I really want to know is it that is the right attitude that from a guy who working at the public transportation !i keep asking him what can I do and he keep saying to me "if that's a thousand of the people come to me for money that how can I pay to them , you want me to get you a money from the bank?i can't help you here !" And I told him that's is not a excuse to rush me away . And he has his responsibility to explain to every single customers what is the best way to solved all problem that happen in the station. / November 1, 2014 at 04:48 pm
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Dan / August 10, 2015 at 10:21 pm
I have yet to receive some acknowledgement, about an incident on the subway, from TTC Customer service (called twice in the space of 7 weeks) regarding the online form I filled out.

I take the Yonge Southbound train every morning and generally it's uncomfortable with the huge crowds pushing etc. At 8:06am today I thought I would be an enjoyable trouble-free ride to work as I noticed the train wasn’t overly crowded. Every other day the alcove that leads to the driver’s compartment has 1-2 people standing in it. I thought what a treat I have a tiny space to stand it for this ride. Within 5 seconds of standing there I feel someone push my back. I turn around and see an open door to the driver compartment and an angry TTC employee yelling at me and pointing at the floor and then the tiny glyph (among an assortment) indicating what appears like no people allowed here. I said “no need to push me” as he closed the door. TTC employee opens the driver door angry and told me “you can get off this train if you don’t like it”. This incident was witnessed by at least 20 people -one woman commented on how rude he was and that I should report this.

One would think that this TTC employee doesn’t have to put up with pushy passengers since he is in his own compartment so why does he find it necessary to assault innocent passengers? Should the TTC hold itself to better standards with common courtesy? One would like to think so.
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