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TTC Unveils Its First Customer Charter

Better information, improved responsiveness, and a cleaner system: some of the things the TTC is promising in its new customer charter.

Photo by PJMixer from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

Photo by PJMixer from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

Rightly or wrongly, Toronto loves to complain about its transit service. Its past reputation as one of the world’s finest system seems like a joke to regular users who deal with packed vehicles, service delays, and crusty staff. Through its first-ever customer charter, introduced today, the TTC aims to address some of these customer issues.

“We’re not going to accept second best,” TTC chief executive officer Andy Byford declared at a press conference unveiling the customer charter. “We’re going to challenge mediocrity. We are going to try harder. We recognize that you are the people who pay our wages, that we need to do better in terms of our customer service.”

The customer charter consists of 31 improvement targets to be completed by year end. These targets are divided among five themes: making the system cleaner, providing riders with better information, improving responsiveness, modernization and increasing accessibility, and renewing the vehicle fleet. Among the highlights:

  • New bus stop poles and shelter maps, along with an overhauled system map.
  • Testing Wi-Fi on two station platforms (Bloor-Yonge and St. George). This will not extend to service within trains.
  • Redesigning employee uniforms.
  • A “reinvigorat[ed] security model.”
  • Five “Meet the Managers” sessions to be held each quarter.
  • Testing exterior door chimes and low-ceiling hand holds on subway cars.
  • Receiving and testing prototype “bendy” (or articulated) buses.
  • Completion of eternal renovations at Pape station by the end of 2013. “That’s been a bit of a saga,” Byford admitted. Construction will begin on accessibility projects at Coxwell and Lawrence West stations.

The customer charter was inspired by similar documents in other transit systems, notably the ones Byford worked at in London and Sydney, and is intended to be revised annually. He believes that a charter signals to the public that TTC management expects to be held accountable for its actions, and displays a determination to deliver better customer service. At today’s press conference, Byford said that creating a more customer-centric culture within the TTC will take time, and that he hopes that other moves, like better management training and a review of hiring criteria, will bring improvements.

At the end of the press conference, Byford was also asked about comments Mayor Rob Ford made this morning about his desire to phase out streetcars entirely. “The man is entitled to his opinion,” Byford noted. “The fact is we do have 204 state-of-the-art, air-conditioned, low-floor streetcars on order.”


  • Brandon Leal

    Great to see Mr. Byford is getting serious about his customer service promises. Hopefully this initiative last longer than a year both in reality and in the light of riders and the ever-negative media.

    They should run the new streetcar for free promotionally for a day in the summer to build public momentum for the project and the system.

  • W. K. Lis

    This customer charter started under Webster back in 2010. See

  • Anonymous416

    Free suggestion for the TTC: Hire a co-op student or two to survey subway ticket booths, and photograph all the handwritten, illegible signs that have been improvised over two decades of neglect (“NO MORE TRAINS”). Choose the most popular/urgent, print up a set of properly formatted, legible, consistent, durable signs, and give the ticket booths a signage makeover. Cheap and a big improvement.

    Ticket collectors have tried their best to figure out how to communicate with riders, but they don’t have much to work with, and every one comes up with different answers.

  • Hollow Island

    This charter is fucking absurd. There is nothing about guaranteeing that the route is actually followed. This morning during rush hour, two 504 King streetcars in a row went east on Queen, meaning that the wait between streetcars following the proper route was 21 minutes.

    The schedule board indicating that the cars would be there in 7 minutes both referred to them as the King cars, yet they weren’t. In fact, at least half of the King cars between 9 and 10 am don’t follow King.

    Most cars between 6 and 7 pm short turn at some point, as do most during the day going west. A driver told me that he’d been driving the route for a month and had never made it to Dundas west, nor had he ever been given a reason.

    There is nowhere else where it is legal for a buisness to withold the service that has been paid for.

    Fuck the TTC. This bullshit charter isn’t going to change a fucking thing. It’s not going to improve service or lessen crowding. The only thing that will is a riders’ revolt.

    • dsmithhfx

      Transit in this city sucks, and we have no one to blame but ourselves and the moron politicians we elect. Random trash talk ain’t gonna change nothing.

      • Hollow Island

        This isn’t random trash talk, it’s a specific a complaint as you will find

        • dsmithhfx

          Well, I dunno. You hate the ttc, “the animal who use it”, and the “bullshit charter”, as you call it. Yet you have no insights on how we got to this point, or how we may realistically hope to get out of it. Maybe you should buy a bicycle. And good luck on those mean streets.

  • Hollow Island

    Oh, and the worst thing about the TTC are the animal who use it. The ones who flood onto the subway before people get off. The people who lean against poles. The people who sit on the outer seat in a pair and refuse to let anyone sit beside them. The people who stand in front of the door. The people who think that when the driver says “move to back” he isn’t speaking to them. And so on.

  • Slurmulon

    Just please don’t make the ‘low-ceiling handholds’ those shrieking, overengineered monstrosities they have on the new trains. Please handout WD-40 or earplugs. Give the new design to someone with less testosterone.

    • the_lemur

      The low ceilings will have bars, I believe.

      WD-40 is for things that are stuck. Squeaks call for Jig-A-Loo.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Great, bars; so I can’t stand or walk through that end of the car without risking a knock to the head.

        • the_lemur

          How tall are you?

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            I can touch the low ceiling with the top of my head if I stand on my toes.

        • frank

          Life is hard

  • Roger B

    It’s not easy being the TTC (or by extension a TTC rider) today, with 10% yearly cutbacks in a rapidly growing city with ridership jumping. No surprise, improvements are things that don’t come with significant costs, like clean subway rest rooms, replaced stop poles and customer reps.
    Expanding frequency & coverage to meet growing ridership costs money so it’s put on the back-burner and has been masked by higher loading standards. Crowded vehicles in turn lead to slower service which on surface routes is compounded by lax line management.
    The service itself is the biggest component in customer service.

    • W. K. Lis

      With a mayor who considers streetcars and cyclists a waste because they get in his way as he drives his car, it is no surprise that public transit is considered “gravy” in his books, whence the 10% reduction requests. With no consideration for inflation nor the increases in population nor the increases in ridership, they are totally ignored by this city’s administration as barriers to better customer service on the TTC. How can the TTC improve its service, if they are not supplied with the proper funds for subsidies from the city, the province, and the federal government to operate.

  • Susanna

    Ironic that the day this is unveiled, I had my worst commute in weeks. 2 hours via bus and subway to get from Scarborough to North York.

    I notice that the “overall” charter commits to “reliable and punctual streetcar, bus and subway service”, with success “measured through our daily and monthly
    scorecards”. So when bus service is at 60% like it was yesterday (instead of 65%, the target, which seems like low-hanging fruit to me) then WHAT HAPPENS?

    I advise the TTC of my incredibly long wait times (based on NextBus/RocketMan app predictions) through Twitter, website, and calling in. (for example, 45 minutes on a route supposed to be every 11 minutes – or 55 minutes on a route scheduled to be every 15 minutes) and I’m told they will let the route supervisors know. What does a route supervisor DO if not watch the live GPS and see problems developing and try to fix them?

    And what is my ability to hold the TTC to account on this? I have none.

    Where are the info screens (next train information) at SHEPPARD, one of the busiest stations and York Mills (also busy due to many bus routes and the GO interchange)?

    As someone said on Twitter in response to Brad Ross’s post about this, I don’t care about the walls being power-washed — I just want my buses/streetcars/subways to COME ON TIME.

    • nevilleross

      I just want my buses/streetcars/subways to COME ON TIME.

      Then plan your trip better for next time.

      • Ralph

        in what way can planning the trip better make the buses run on time?

        • dsmithhfx

          What you seem to be asking for is a magic wand that will stop all other traffic while your bus is en route. And that is third on the mayor’s to do list, right after 1. Giant ferris wheel and 2. Downtown casino.

      • Susanna

        I plan it based on posted schedules, supplemented by GPS data from two apps. If the scheduled buses don’t show up, that’s my fault for not planning better? Should I leave an hour of extra time for each trip just in case the bus doesn’t come?

        I recognize that delays happen, probably most days/trips, but waiting 40 minutes for a bus scheduled every 11 minutes is just not acceptable!!!

  • Waiting for the 501

    So…where’s the mention of the new streetcars in the charter? Weren’t we supposed to have these by now? I’ll suppose I’ll just keep waiting for the streetcar to come.

    • TorontoistEditors

      They’re in testing right now, and scheduled to start running in regular service in 2014.

      • Waiting for the 501

        The TTC oughtta test the new streetcars by running them down actual streets, actually picking up the customers they claim to serve. Maybe with a few extra streetcars on the route, I might get to work on time.

        • dsmithhfx

          What if it turned out those untested streetcars were unsafe, and crushed a baby or a Don Bosco quarterback? What would you say then?

          • Waiting for the 501

            Well, I would retort that those babies and quarterbacks are, to borrow a phrase, swimming with sharks.

  • Moe

    New uniforms? Are they serious? This is a priority? Fix the system first, then we can talk uniforms. Money can be better spent somewhere else.

    • vistarox

      The contract for their uniform maker is up this year. They have to design new uniforms regardless.