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5 highlights from the 2014 TTC customer charter

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 15, 2014

TTC customer charterThe TTC Valentine's Day message to riders: "I promise to change, please don't leave." Yesterday, the transit operator released its 2014 customer charter, a list of 39 promises to be delivered by December that it says will improve service and overall reliability.

"All 39 of these promises are over and above the basic service offering," says TTC spokesman Brad Ross. "What we hear from our customers time and time again is reliability and punctuality, and that's our first bullet point in the promises: that streetcars, buses, subway will be reliable and on time."

In addition, if all goes to plan, there will be more ways to pay for a ticket, new subway and surface vehicles, and an improved overall look for TTC signage. Here's a quick breakdown of what's in the pipes for 2014.

NEW VEHICLES

toronto streetcarThe Yonge line - or Line 1, as the TTC is now branding it - will be serviced by serviced entirely by new Toronto Rocket trains by the end of the year, meaning the remainder of the older trains with the red interior will be shifted over to the Bloor-Danforth line in 2015. More of the oldest trains, the ones with orange doors, will be retired.

The 510 Spadina will be the first route to get new streetcars on Aug. 31 this year. Bathurst and Harbourfront will arrive going in to 2015. Articulated buses will be on seven routes - 7 Bathurst, 29 Dufferin, 36 Finch West, 63 Ossington, 6 Bay, 85 Sheppard East and 53 Steeles East - by December.

FARE TWEAKS

ttc tokensSubway stations will accept credit and debit cards for more fares - likely larger denominations of tokens plus weekly passes, and Metropasses - starting in Spring, though it's not yet clear what the minimum sale will be, says spokesman Brad Ross. That means fewer trips to the ATM but perhaps a longer wait at the fare booth. Pass vending machines will also start accepting credit cards, the TTC says.

Presto readers will be added at just three new stations, continuing the interminably slow rollout of the province's electronic fare card. That said, the new streetcars come with readers as standard, so that's something. "The big push will be through 2015 in terms of stations," says Ross.

"There's an old joke, not so much any more, but three years ago, that there's only two organizations that operate in cash - organized crime and the TTC. We've moved away from that, and that's something people have demanded."

INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS

ttc constructionThe TTC will start work on second exits at Wellesley and Woodbine stations in 2014. St. Clair West and Lawrence West will get new elevators, accessible fare gates and automatic sliding doors at the entrances to the stations. Currently fewer than half of the subway and RT stations are wheelchair accessible.

The Union station second platform project that has resulted in a giant hole in Front Street will be finished in the Fall. When it opens, University and Yonge line trains will each have a dedicated platform, reducing pressure on the narrow area between the two tracks.

"The rest of Union station, the mezzanine level, and we're just talking about the subway station only, is in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015," Ross says.

The charter also promises to fix broken wall tiles in four stations and upgrade the speakers in five in an attempt to make customer announcements audible over background noise.

APPEARANCE

ttc subway numbersBloor-Yonge and St. George stations will get new signage in March that will officially begin the process of numbering to the subway and future LRT lines and implementing a raft of other visual changes. If feedback is positive, the TTC will roll out the designs across the system.

Also, the tweaked bus poles and system map on the Wellesley bus route will be evaluated and possibly expanded during 2014, depending on the results of a customer survey.

Staff, including janitors, will be dressed in the long-awaited new uniforms by Summer. In August, staff complained preliminary versions of the polo shirts and baseball caps looked too much like the Montreal Canadiens uniform.

Stations will be given a good blast with a pressure washer every Spring and Fall. Graffiti, gum and other detritus built up during the Winter and Summer will be given special attention.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

ttc ticket boothThe TTC will continue to publish daily and monthly scorecards, rating actual bus, streetcar, and subway service against what is expected. "We won't hide from our mistakes. If there are problems with our service, we will be clear about what happened - and what we are doing to fix it," the charter reads.

The customer service department also pledges to answer the phone in under two minutes. "99 per cent of complaints filed with us will be addressed within five days and reviewed and responded to within 15 business days."

What do you think of the new details in the customer charter? Are you optimistic for 2014?

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

Images: Chris Bateman, Tom Ryaboi/blogTO, Jeff Jefferson, Greg Heo, Scott Snider/blogTO Flickr pool, TTC

Discussion

37 Comments

Grizzly87 / February 15, 2014 at 01:28 am
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"99 per cent of complaints filed with us will be addressed within five days and reviewed and responded to within 15 business days."

I hope this is true. Maybe then the super racist/grumpy/ terrible toll booth collector at Sherbourne will finally get canned!!
Joey replying to a comment from Grizzly87 / February 15, 2014 at 02:30 am
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"racist/grumpy/ terrible toll booth collector"

Sounds more like a *troll* booth collector.
W. K. Lis / February 15, 2014 at 08:04 am
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Cutting the number of employees only results in reducing service. Each bus needs a driver. A bus only carries so much passengers. If passengers are left at a bus stop, that means more buses are needed. More buses mean more drivers.

Increase service levels by hiring more drivers to drive the additional buses.
Canterbury Tail / February 15, 2014 at 09:18 am
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What, no promises to run transit south of King street? What about finishing the work at the bottom of Spadina that was originally supposed to be done by May last year?
TheRealTTC / February 15, 2014 at 09:20 am
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The TTC is a joke of an organization. I've personally seen how much tax payer money is wasted everyday. Not to mention the leisurely strolls everyone goes on to the lunch room every half an hour.
Rob replying to a comment from Grizzly87 / February 15, 2014 at 09:20 am
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Don't for a second think that any of the customer service initiatives will have any direct impact on unionized employees. Publishing scorecards and taking action based on those scorecards are two different things.

Your favourite booth collector, who has the potential to make over $100,000 sitting in a booth doing a job that a 15 year old can do, will still be there and will still be an asshole.
useless / February 15, 2014 at 11:35 am
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If they made transit cheap, then I'd use it.
AR / February 15, 2014 at 11:47 am
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As Canterbury mentioned, if you want to know if the TTC keeps it's promises, just look at how long it's taken to complete the Spadina streetcar loop. They've pushed back that deadline so many times I think it's now until June 2014 for completion. All I see is either no construction taking place, or individuals standing around looking for something to do. Instead of focusing on cosmetic changes, how about you actually finish the work that you start (Trust me, that'll go over a lot better than a new uniform)
Derek / February 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm
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"All 39 of these promises are over and above the basic service offering" ... WTF?! Answering phone calls, providing reliable rides, punctual rides, having clean station floors, functional lighting are NOT part of basic service offering?
Spike replying to a comment from TheRealTTC / February 15, 2014 at 01:18 pm
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The TTC is only a joke to overprivileged assholes like you who think that a public transit system is like a teleporter that can get you anywhere lightening quick. Newsflash V, asshole; it can't, because it's not a teleporter, but a public transit system. Wake up early, use the route maps, and plan your trips accordingly, and you'll get where you want to go a lot better. Either that, or get the frack out of Toronto and live elsewhere you think has a more effective transit system.
b / February 15, 2014 at 01:24 pm
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what the system lacks is common sense. I wait daily for a westbound st Clair streetcar at st Clair station. lineup so long there's nowhere to stand. yet 5 cars I. a row come I to the station and are going eastbound, with 2 people waiting in line. sometimes no one. all it takes is a human being with half a brain to take everyone off 4 streetcars and put them on one streetcar. and send the rest in the other direction. I am so perplexed how the system is so incredibly inefficient, yet the solves are so so simple.
Qaz / February 15, 2014 at 03:09 pm
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510 getting the first streetcars in September? Maybe the line will actually go to Union by then!!

Doubt it.
MC / February 15, 2014 at 03:30 pm
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How about a 40th promise: don't be a colossal asshole to people who ask you where the bus/streetcar is going because you are too lazy to change the sign.
Annoyed Rider / February 15, 2014 at 04:19 pm
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So much personal gripe in the comments. Write your mp or buy a car. The TTC are doing the best they can with what they have. They are a public service. They aime to please you. If your not enjoying your expirence simply tell them in letter form. However expecting the impossible when your paying little to next to nothing is unrealistic. Why not donate your savings from gas and insurance to help speed up the process. You'd be doing us all a favour.
v79 / February 15, 2014 at 05:55 pm
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It's been two years and I'm still waiting for a reply and apology regarding as to why two+ hours worth of northbound Dufferin night buses never showed up in the freezing cold. Somehow I doubt their 15 day limit is attainable at that rate.
Al replying to a comment from b / February 15, 2014 at 07:38 pm
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Maybe you meant to say St. Clair West station because last I checked, streetcars don't travel east on St. Clair past Yonge...
Daniel Freedman / February 15, 2014 at 08:48 pm
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{Toronto Transit: Still Crazy After All These Years]

All well and good…

…but I can't believe Toronto is still arrested at the primitive, decades-old "token" stage for public transit. Tokens were phased out in New York and other major cities years ago.

Incredibly, Toronto still lacks smart cards that can be swiped at the turnstile or on busses.

Toronto customers still have to choose between paying in cash, paying with tokens, or flashing a staggeringly expensive monthly pass for unlimited use.

You can also buy surprisingly cheap day or weekly passes that sometimes include family members and/or can be used by others.

It's all very arcane and weird and incomprehensible. And stupid.

What's lacking is what's most needed: pre-loaded smart cards.
Dude / February 15, 2014 at 08:52 pm
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Ya theydo. Thats how they get to the staton
Simon replying to a comment from Annoyed Rider / February 16, 2014 at 12:52 am
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Savings from gas and insurance? How about they get in the real world and acknowledge that they're frequently competing against faster, cheaper, more flexible, more pleasant travel options? I can bike to work in 10 minutes, 8 if I really hustle, 12 if I have to pump up my tires. To school I can get there in 25 minutes, 20 if conditions work in my favour. Now alternately, I can take the Dufferin bus to work in 25 minutes if I trust the trip planner, which is rarely accurate. More realistically, I get to the stop and I could be waiting who knows how long, in the early morning up to half an hour, for a bus, because 1) the schedule is a joke and 2) they insist on running the same buses on theoretically the same frequency and despite traffic conditions it still manages to be a toss-up. In 2014 the next vehicle system should be on all routes, not just the streetcars. Why they can't have the brains to figure out that when I need to be at work at 5:30 in the goddamn morning I need a bus that runs on time not a big empty bus I'll never figure out. Save operating costs and run a short bus twice as often. Simple. A couple of months ago, I decided to try something out. I walked to work, like a fucking caveman, because I was sick of walking several blocks at both ends to the stop on what is supposed to be a direct route (why they haven't done like most "world-class" cities do and run a route every other block or so in densely populated areas I'll never know) and paying 6 fucking dollars, a week's worth of food, for the privilege of standing around in the cold for 20 minutes every time the streets are too icy to ride. On top of this I have to add on an hour or two of extra time and almost always extra fares to run whatever errands I have to run. I'll remind you that these errands are things that can be done in a quarter of the time, for free, when the streets are free of snow, which is rarely because the City cheaped out on snowplows. When I was a kid growing up every street, all streets, were plowed within a couple hours of any snowfall. So anyway, I walked to work, and it actually took me less time than it did to take one of the allegedly most frequent routes in the city with no transfers from my home to my workplace, with no uncertainty, no fucking about, no money wasted, and no asshole driver holding everybody up inspecting my transfer like I'm some criminal. So yeah, I guess if you live in the suburbs the TTC is some kind of luxury cheap-o service where you can go "you mean somebody else drives while I get to sit and read the paper?" (if only you could sit, let alone get a real newspaper, on most routes). But for proper Torontonians it's a kick in the teeth, because every time you think it'll be convenient and every time you're wrong. You pay through the nose like it's a cab only you get neither comfort nor speed, you wait around anxiously for a mysterious and often arbitrary amount of time, you jam in with all these surly shitheads blocking the seat with their fucking throwback backpacks that nobody who isn't Portuguese or Italian wore past high school or 2005, which is colourful and refreshing when you have the sweet luxury of time but more enraging than fucking Liberty Village types wearing sunglasses on their heads every other time, and there's always some kind of service disruption or construction no-one told you about, especially not on an electronic notice board at all stations that real transit services have. You do 15 minutes of walking and 15 minutes of waiting and and additional 10 minutes of buffer time for detours, driver-customer (because apparently we're not passengers anymore and getting about town is no different than going to Wal-Mart) arguments, traffic delays and general fuckery. On top of that you pay vast amounts of money and cram into a tiny space handling fiddly but very expensive little bits of metal loosely (because the idea of rolling them or putting them in dime bags or something other than just throwing a fistful of tokens small enough to slip through the space between your fingers never occured to them) in front of a long line of very impatient people a third of whom cannot physically squeeze past you, another third too timid to "butt in line" and drop a fare in, and a further third held up by this shit who in any other city would simply hop the turnstile because they pay taxes and vote and fuck if they're gonna deal with this exact-change-only wait-in-line costs-more-than-food bullshit. And the whole time, the whole time, you're realizing that you're a complete chump for doing any of this because you understand that a goddamn bicycle, one of the simplest of modern machines, could get you there right the fuck now, for free. Literally to the doorstep, not pull the cord and hope he hears it and then trudge 4 blocks and 2 traffic lights in addition to the 3 you took to get to the stop in the first place. You could get off, lock up and be through the door in 15 seconds otherwise. So no, people aren't saving money vs. the cost of gas and insurance. They're losing time and money and aggravation vs. the cost of fucking WALKING. That shit was supposed to be obsolete by now, remember? The TTC needs to step up their game. They need more information, more routes, lower fares, and more frequent service. If it wants to be seen as anything other than a service for chumps it needs to step up its game. For the TTC to be taken seriously I need to see 3 things happen. I need to be able to, in old city/inner suburbs/outer suburbs get on a vehicle within 10/15/20 minutes of my starting point and be at my destination within 10/15/20 minutes of my exiting a vehicle. I need a fare of $2 or less taken through any medium at any point to help me, within 3 hours' time period, get any errands I need done doing. I should not have to pay a whole day or week or month worth of fares for the few times I need to go several places in several neighbourhoods after work. TTC needs to find a way to make this work efficiently. The TTC needs to acknowledge the reality that a significant number of people are not their "typical" customer of either someone in outer Scarborough too poor to afford a car and grateful to get any way of going to work altogether or some douchebag yuppie guilty white liberal in a gentrified downtown neighbourhood breaking some of their wad of bills into change for the streetcar at the Starbucks every morning to feel good about their contribution to the environment, but people who are smart and resourceful and know how to make it work on a shoestring budget; that most of the time when they take the TTC they have some scam worked out with bus-only entrances or expired transfers or a fistful of nickels in a collection box that totals a dollar-something and when confronted with a choice of paying the full fare to do things the "proper" way and getting there for free on their own steam they'll take the latter, every time, and getting that significant minority of people, true city folk, on board requires a full effort to compete with other modes of travel.
David Gluckstein / February 16, 2014 at 06:23 am
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I once worked for the TTC. It is a culture of self-entitlement. Racism, bigotry and the glass-ceiling are still major internal problems. Those jobs the TTC advertises online have already been filled by children and friends of employees. No TTC employee can really get fired. Drug use is common and ways to beat the tests such as vinegar-cleansing are taught by the top brass. The hiring frenzy at the TTC is a backroom deal brokered by agencies and workers inside taking kickbacks. And those cameras on the buses do not always work, so assaults on a bus or delinwuent driversboften go unreported.
MARK / February 16, 2014 at 06:52 am
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Flat out, the TTC just sucks. It's inconvenient, slow, and it's expensive. If you need to go downtown, instead of paying a 6 dollar fare, you're better off just driving.
Mario Panacci / February 16, 2014 at 10:53 am
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I know Brad Ross from my years as a TTC supervisor. He's a caring, wonderful spokesperson for TTC. Sadly Brad and the many caring TTC employees (mostly employees) aren't empowered to transform TTC. As Lee Iacocca wrote in his book (Iacocca)about transforming Chrysler, Lee had to fire thirty three of the thirty five vice presidents over his first few years or as he said ---That's one a month! If the media looks into TTC upper management they'll find lifers. Folks that worked up the management chain by pretending everything was fine and balancing budgets by delaying critical infrastructure upgrades. This kept tax payers and riders happy because taxes/fares did no increase much. You know what they say - if it's too good to be true it probably isn't. The problem with this type of TTC leadership is that over many years the outdated system problem compound. Today TTC has critical tunnel and booth phones (life lines) connected to 50 + year old cabling that results in weeks of outages. Switching and RF communications systems (life lines) that run on 25 year old UHF radio/switching technology and old worn out cabling. TTC has subway switching systems that are 2 generations old and constantly failing. The system has been ignored for 20 years and like the Gardner now we're all shocked by the huge time and cost gaps needed to update it. TTC is like an old car the owner kept way too long hoping it would continue to run well everyday. What kind of TTC upper leadership lets this happen? And what about our three levels of politicians that only seem to care about "new" expansions and the votes they will bring? These leaders are forcing 2.5 million people to use a 20 year system while giving expansion areas "new" services. How is this fair to most Toronto voters? It's like the income splitting - these strategies only benefit a minority of voters at the expense of the majority. I used TTC everyday as an employee for 18 months (employees get free use as a silent benefit). It was an embarrassing ride not because of the people or the TTC employees operating the system but because the system was so old and neglected at every level. I felt like a 2nd class citizen using TTC. I'm sorry to all the hard working and caring TTC employees and the many friends I still have working at TTC but I just have to be honest and direct about the real problems TTC faces. I hope more Toronto tax payers and fare riders start pushing our elected and serving leaders at TTC to hire world class executives with outside transit expertise. They leaders will then hire best in class employees but even still it will take 10 to 15 years to catch up because it took 20 years of neglect to get to whwere we are now. That's how Iacocca turned Chryler around and that's in my opinion what needs to happen at TTC. Posted as a caring TTC user, past TTC supervisor and Canadian.
Spike replying to a comment from Daniel Freedman / February 16, 2014 at 02:04 pm
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I guess they weren't phased out (tokens) because many people in Toronto are of limited means and can't have fancy smart card ANYTHING?

Just a guess, and just sayin'.

BTW, about New York: http://gothamist.com/2014/01/09/farewell_metrocard_mta_plans_to_kil.php (check out the reactions from ordinary New Yorkers who are of limited means and may not be able to afford the changes in the system, let alone the MetroCards.)
Spike replying to a comment from Simon / February 16, 2014 at 02:06 pm
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Wow, you really know how to whine and to write...poorly.
Simon replying to a comment from Spike / February 16, 2014 at 03:12 pm
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Oh piss off. If I can get to where I need to go for free in a quarter of the travel time, why should I pay through the nose to stand around in the cold? Here's a good idea for the TTC: instead of posting signs everywhere reminding everyone that fare evasion is illegal, why not provide a service that justifies paying for it? If I need to use the TTC I almost always have a scam worked out involving borrowed Metropasses, expired transfers, blending into crowds, bus bay entrances, back doors, and random fistfuls of change that total decidedly less than $3. Most everyone I know has their own system worked out to circumvent paying the full price and be able to get from Point A to Point B and usually Points C and D and E using the infrastructure their goddamn taxes paid for.
C / February 16, 2014 at 04:55 pm
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The TTC sucks point blank period. Being one of the first cities to utilize the subway system in the world. We are the laughing stalk of all who use underground subways, LRT, and buses now. They have shown what can be done with proper organization, planning and management. Toronto has the potential to be such a great city but we have a lot of work to do to get it to where it can be with the transportation system being first on the list.
Yo Spike! / February 16, 2014 at 06:56 pm
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A Teleporter? Cool! Does it take tokens?
Randy / February 16, 2014 at 08:24 pm
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So the problem with the TTC fare collection is the paper transfers, which reduces the entire entrance of a subway station to one turnstile, so that the grumpy man in the glass box can verify transfers of the people jabbing you in the back trying to get past you as you buy your monthly pass or tokens. So the fact that that man can now accept credit cards as well as cash does not really fix the problem. In fact, I think it will make it worse.
Dan replying to a comment from Simon / February 16, 2014 at 11:52 pm
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@Simon and @Mario Panacci:

Both of you need to learn to use paragraphs, because I guarantee nobody read your rambling replies that just look like a wall of text.
Mario Panacci / February 17, 2014 at 09:10 am
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Oh here's an idea. If TTC employees paid for using the system like everyone else this would generate millions a year in revenue that could be put into long overdue critical infrastructure upgrades. Trust me as a past supervisor when I say TTC pays really well so I don't think it's too much to ask our serving public employees to pay for using the system we fund. Also if employees pay their perception of a "free" system goes away and more employees might join our chant for a better managed and operated TTC.
InjuryBoy replying to a comment from Mario Panacci / February 18, 2014 at 01:48 am
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Mario, Mario, Mario. If you were really a past supervisor at the TTC then you would remember a couple of things. Like how the TTC passes are included in the benefits portion of the worker's pay (over-valued at $2k). Also how the TTC requires drivers and collectors to take the system while on duty to get to relief points, stations, etc.
Yo Spike! / February 18, 2014 at 10:19 am
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Does the teleporter take Presto?
Mongo the Mongolian / February 18, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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I see Simon has diarrhea...word diarrhea, that is. Makes a mess.
Alex (Toronto) / February 19, 2014 at 07:31 pm
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TTC's brand new articulated (bend) buses are already in service, but so far its only running on the 7 Bathurst route is that correct anyone? I already took it a few weeks ago.
Mario Panacci replying to a comment from Dan / March 9, 2014 at 11:39 am
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Hey Dan - Thanks for your comments and while I do consider paragraphs important, I tend to form my assessments of a comment based on content. Since you read both our comments your assessment that no one will read our comments isn't accurate.
Mario Panacci replying to a comment from InjuryBoy / March 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm
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I was the TTC Supervisor of Voice Services from Feb 2009 until Sept 2010. I was hired from over 500 applicants and from 1996 to 2009 I was a trusted TTC consultant. Some of my other accounts included City of Toronto and Ontario Government. I think taking the tax payer and rider funded unlimited use pass benefit off employee wages and turning it into a new revenue line is something every tax payer and rider would love. I do agree TTC employees currently receiving this benefit would be unhappy but since most TTC riders don't receive this benefit from their employers it seems like the right thing to do. I'd love to hear from others. Maybe I'm wrong but my base pay as a TTC employee was $80k/year (my many benefits were above that). Just the $80k/year is probably $20k/year more than the overall industry standard for a voice services supervisor with 3 reports. In fact, most private companies these days have eliminated supervisor positions to reduce business expenses. Hey that's another way TTC might be able to reduce costs. Maybe some of the supervisor and management positions aren't needed and that money could be used for more drivers and collectors which are badly needed? I wonder why the TTC executives haven't considered these strategies? I remember Bell reduced it's management by 5000 employees some years back to focus on more front line skilled positions. That strategy seems to have worked really well for Bell.
Alex (Toronto) / March 24, 2014 at 09:20 am
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The H6 (orange door) series trains are becoming more of a rarity these days as people are suggesting there's only about 50 cars left in them meaning there are only about 6-7 of these trainsets left in the fleet, get your rides on them while they are still around.

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