How will the TTC get a handle on distracted drivers?
The TTC's new CEO, Andy Byford, is currently dealing with the first public relations crisis on his watch, and monitoring how he deals with it will likely tell us more about his management prowess than the types of soundbites we've heard at events like the unveiling of new washrooms at Finch Station. Distracted TTC operators — whether it be on account of texting or reading the newspaper — aren't anything new, but they pose a particular problem when you're trying to sell an image of the TTC in which customer service is priority number one.
Although these incidents are exceedingly rare in the grand scheme of things, two in a week is probably enough to make people wonder if much has changed since that notorious snap of a sleeping fare collector went viral a couple of years back. Since that time the TTC has convened the Customer Service Panel and hired a Chief Customer Service Officer in Chris Upfold and held town hall meetings (amongst other things), but one suspects that none of these initiatives will mollify those who cite legitimate safety concerns related to distracted drivers.
So how does the TTC solve the problem?
We know that employees have been fired for similar behaviour in the past, which should have already sent a strong message to other operators. It seems like a deeper change has to happen throughout TTC management to get the point across that these incidents just can't happen — ever.
For his part, Byford has tried to lay down the law via a strongly worded internal memo that was made public earlier today. In it, he expresses frustration at the fact that the actions of a few employees can wreck the reputations of everyone at the TTC and makes it clear that the Commission won't stand behind those who are found in violation of basic safety protocols.
I'm not sure how much teeth this letter will ultimately have, but the harsh words and not so subtle threat pointed at those employees who make things worse for both passengers and other colleagues gesture to what might be the beginnings of a new culture at the TTC, where incompetence or just sheer stupidity is dealt with swiftly and without impunity.
Photo by Mariam Matti
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