toronto streetcars

What should the TTC include on its passenger charter?

For the first time in its history, the TTC plans to join GO and numerous other transit agencies around the world by publishing a customer charter, a clear statement of principles, customer commitments, and long term goals, in early 2013.

The move is part of CEO Andy Byford's attempt to improve the Commission's sometimes fraught relationship with its customers. PR disasters like Rob Ford's commandeering of a packed bus for his football team haven't exactly helped his cause, but the plan includes adding group station managers, people whose task it will be to manage the daily affairs of several subway stations, and a fleet of new articulated busses for some of the busiest surface routes without streetcar service.

The official document will likely include clear punctuality expectations for trains and streetcars, precise numbers of new vehicles set to enter service each year, and details of town hall or "meet the managers" meetings held by the TTC where customers can publicly have their views heard. There could also be a section on customer rights and explanations of TTC by-laws.

Though the customer charters of other cities often detail how to claim refunds, Chris Upfold, the TTC's chief customer officer, says that information won't be included in the paperwork, which will likely be distributed in poster form at transit stops and online.

"There's no money back guarantee, there's no promise relating to how long a trip takes. At the end of the day, since we are a taxpayer funded organization, it simply means we either reduce service to pay for that, so actually you deliver a worse service by paying [money] back, or it has to come from somebody. To pay for a [refund] promise you have to raise fares."

The TTC does offer refunds on a case-by-case basis — for example if a turnstile eats a token — but only if customers write in. For now it doesn't seem like there's going to be any new money-back promises enshrined in the charter.

What would you like to see included in the document? Would you like to see a money back guarantee put in place, even if it ends up costing the Commission money? Do you think having a charter is a positive step toward better customer service?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "Spadina streetcars on parade" by Kiril Strax from the blogTO Flickr pool.


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