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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.”

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