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What should the TTC include on its passenger charter?

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 6, 2012

toronto streetcarsFor 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.



Phil / December 6, 2012 at 02:33 pm
The TTC should put a clear emphasis on keeping the system moving smoothly and quickly. I know it seems obvious, but it is something they get wrong surprisingly often. Some examples:

- Streetcars on St. Clair stopping in the middle of the route for a chat with the driver going the opposite direction.
- Clusters of buses on Dufferin and other busy routes where there is one at the front picking up passengers and two behind just waiting, followed by a 15 minute wait for the next group of buses.
- Drivers on the Queen streetcar holding up traffic because one passenger has a transfer that isn't valid.
Khristopher / December 6, 2012 at 02:34 pm
They need to do something about the bunching and late streetcars. I'm so tired of it taking sometimes twice as long to get home, but still paying the same price. It took me 45 mins last night to get to Yonge and Dundas from Gerrard and Carlaw. I could have drove or biked that in 10 mins.
Picard102 / December 6, 2012 at 02:38 pm
Rob Ford didn't commandeer a bus.
Brad / December 6, 2012 at 02:44 pm
just get them to come on time
bob / December 6, 2012 at 02:50 pm
Buses need to drive the speed limit and not stop at green lights.
M?ichael / December 6, 2012 at 02:57 pm
Phil, are you suggesting should we let every invalid transfer pass through? Let everyone on that asks for a free ride? Your fare will soon be $5. I challenge customers because I feel I owe that much to you, the honest people already sitting behind me. That one person on your trip translates to about 25 or 30 on my shift. Fare evasion costs the Commission plenty,so let me do my part in trying to keep it to a minimum.
iSkyscraper / December 6, 2012 at 02:57 pm
None of the above make sense or are in the TTC's control. Bunching is a factor of cars blocking transit vehicles. Dragging heels when the light is green is an attempt to stay on schedule and avoid bunching. All the charter can speak to are things they actually control.

The TTC doesn't need a charter for transit users. The freaking country needs one, for big items like funding.
Todd / December 6, 2012 at 03:06 pm
How about a firing squad for passengers who don't remove their backpacks during rush hour?
joe replying to a comment from Picard102 / December 6, 2012 at 03:29 pm
STFU you dumb shit
cathy / December 6, 2012 at 03:33 pm
If a streetcar has a subway or street advertised as its destination point then it should actually go there. ESPECIALLY after passing the Yonge University subways. I hate hate hate being booted off of a streetcar that is supposed to go to Broadview 10 minutes after I get on at Yonge and Dundas.

I also like Todd's suggestion and would like to add door blockers on subways to that.
Shortturn no more / December 6, 2012 at 03:38 pm
I feel like short turns after a certain time shouldn't be allowed. The TTC has the request a stop after 9:00 PM but has no problem abandoning you on a street corner because they've decided the car needs to go back to the yard.

also...why do they send out 5 cars in a row at the same time if they are just going to short turn 3 of them?!
Welshgrrl replying to a comment from Todd / December 6, 2012 at 03:59 pm
I would also support summary executions for those who feel the urge to (a) blast shitty music at the rest of us through insubstantial ear buds/tinny mobile speakers, or (b) loudly share embarrassing details about mundane personal dramas via their surface vehicle phone conversations
Robert / December 6, 2012 at 03:59 pm
One thing the TTC needs to do is take advantage of the GPS tracking that's now on every bus and streetcar. If they paged drivers to tell them to hold at a timepoint, they could prevent buses from bunching together. The people on that bus would have a longer trip, but evenly spaced buses would mean more reliable service for everyone.
the lemur / December 6, 2012 at 04:15 pm
The TTC needs to redesign its complaints process so that customers no longer have to submit a copy of their complaint by fax (seriously, in this day and age?) in addition to an e-mail or online form, and provide customers with specific information on what happens as a result of the complaint.
W. K. Lis / December 6, 2012 at 04:34 pm
Ten minute headways should be the target for all routes. Timed transfers, to allow for stopovers.
M?ichael replying to a comment from Robert / December 6, 2012 at 04:37 pm
We don't have to be told to hold at a timing point, we all know them. During rush hours, buses bunch together simply because of traffic conditions. And although it can be frustrating, a vehicle gets short turned to get it back on schedule, to fill the gap of a missing vehicle, or because the operator's day is finished
Robert replying to a comment from M?ichael / December 6, 2012 at 04:43 pm
By using the GPS they could compensate for traffic conditions. It's unrealistic to expect all buses to stick to schedule during rush hour. There's too much traffic and too many people. It'd be a bit like the subway... since we know where every bus is on a route live, we could space them out better even if it means a few deviating from their published schedule
cathy replying to a comment from M?ichael / December 6, 2012 at 04:53 pm
People know why vehicles get short turned (we're not stupid), but it happens far too often and it's a sign of incredibly bad planning. If a streetcar passes a major loading point (ie a subway) then it should know the actual destination. Don't pick up 30-50 passengers and then dump them a few minutes later.

AsianChapter / December 6, 2012 at 04:57 pm
How about special subway cars, streetcars and buses Asians so that the rest of us can avoid the following common scenario:

- Line up at stop/station
- Get pushed aside by Asian
- Observe said Asian grab a seat and then instantaneously fall into REM sleep, thus removing any moral obligation they may have to give up a seat to the elderly or disabled
rek / December 6, 2012 at 06:24 pm
They need better maps, signage, and a wayfinding system. With non-English users in mind.
Khristopher replying to a comment from rek / December 6, 2012 at 06:34 pm
This is a bilingual country. English and/or French is fine, thanks.
Bob But Not Doug / December 6, 2012 at 07:50 pm
If the vehicles show up when they're supposed to, travel to where they're supposed to, and arrive when they're supposed to, little else matters to me
Rob R. / December 6, 2012 at 07:50 pm
No more 'short turns', reliable service, stop tearing up the Queen's Quay tracks every 2 years, and public floggings for rude staff.

Oh. And a total seconded for the firing squad for idiots that keep their backpacks on during rush hour. Jerks.
cathie / December 6, 2012 at 08:06 pm
How about less "Not in Service" buses on the roads during the height of rush hour that drive right by 50 people waiting at bus stop. We all know that "Not in Service" bus is going to the subway anyways, so why are they not "in service"? Very poor planning to drive an empty bus to a subway when they could very easily pick up passengers along the way. No bus should be out of service until it gets to the subway or the bus yard. I'm seeing this more and more of late.
Bubba / December 6, 2012 at 09:48 pm
TTC passenger charter.
HA! Thats funny!

I'll tell you what is gonna make a difference, MONEY and LOADS OF IT!

The so called passenger charter is PR BS!
Trying to Read / December 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm
How about cell phone jamming devices on streetcars and buses?
Dan replying to a comment from Rob R. / December 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm
You can't have reliable service without short turning. Why do you think they are being short-turned to begin with—to fix a gap in the service.
Genevieve replying to a comment from cathy / December 8, 2012 at 01:13 am
I took public transit for years in Montreal, and there never was the amount of short-turning nor the bus bunching I've observed in Toronto, and it's not like there isn't a lot of traffic in Montreal. A few weeks ago, I had to take 3 different #7 buses on Bathurst to get from Wilson St. to Bathurst Station because they kept short-turning buses. It's a little crazy.

And I agree that backpacks are a scourge at rush hour. I almost got knocked over twice this week by people wearing backpacks. When you point this out to the person, it's all, "Huh? What...?" It's a crowded bus and you've got a big thing protruding from your back, you do the math, genius.
Dave / December 9, 2012 at 01:35 am
I realize that short turning is often required for uninterrupted service, but sometimes it's just ridiculous and unnecessary. Tonight, I was taking the 504 king on route to Dundas station home and the a completely full car was kicked off to turn at bathurst. Two more cars did the same. Once we finally got on a car going to Dundas station, it short turned at queen. This happens more often than not. It really is frustrating.
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