On January 27, the TTC announced a number of new programs and policies designed to substantially improve all aspects of customer service. I won’t go into all of the details, but for those who have not seen them, you can follow the links below.
This will probably be the last transit announcement by Adam Giambrone who is widely expected to announce his candidacy for Mayor of Toronto next Monday. Once that happens, he cannot maintain a high-profile position and use the TTC for electoral good news.
In his introduction of the new program, Giambrone talked about four essential parts of TTC customer service: courtesy, information, responsiveness and reliability. Some of these are “people skills”, some are technical, but many require changes to organizational culture. Just making the trains run on time isn’t enough (although I suspect many riders would be happy just for that small miracle).
The TTC will create an external panel of customers, employees, and others outside the TTC with a customer service background. The work plan sounds depressingly like so much public consultation. First there will be a terms of reference, then the panel will review current plans, consult the public and draft a “bill of rights” for transit customers. This process is hoped to wrap up by June 30 — an unusually fast schedule for consultation and reporting.
For the record, I have neither applied for nor been invited to be a member of the panel.
The TTC plans a number of technology-related changes to improve information flow including screens showing information about service status at subway entrances, real-time vehicle information via SMS (text) messages, new microphones at collectors’ booths to improve conversational quality between staff and passengers, an internet trip planner, and completion of next vehicle information throughout the subway.
We know that the GPS-based line displays have been available internally for some time. The TTC included a view of one as part of a recent presentation, and real time trip information cannot work without the underlying data. Why are these not available to the public?
A significant omission in the vehicle tracking system is knowledge of the advertised destination of a vehicle. Like so much else in TTC operations, the only available information is the scehduled destination. However, this is meaningless on routes with frequent short-turns and ad-hoc service restructuring. Someone waiting for a car wants to know where it is really going, not where it is scheduled to be.
(One amusing note about the TTC presentation: If you scroll down to the “Backgrounder” section, there is a picture of a “next car” info sign saying that a car is now “due” and coming in 1 minute. The streetcar in the background is a 504 signed for Dufferin, a short turn. The information system has no way of knowing it is advertising the arrival of a car that may not go where the rider wants.)
The trip planner is still at a beta-testing stage (comment threads on other sites have talked about various peculiarities in early versions), but it will be released with the clear intent of getting customer feedback. This will be an early test of the TTC’s intentions because bug fixes and enhancements will be essential to having a really good product.
I will not discuss the relative merits of the TTC’s system and other available software, although one wonders why the TTC went down the “roll your own” path on this project. Once the TTC version has actually been up for a while and had some fine tuning, then we can get into comparative discussions about other products.
The TTC plans to add 50 new pass vending machines at locations in the system and to expand the use of debit/credit car transactions. I hope that, while they are rewiring stations, they take into account future needs for Presto so that they don’t have to tear everything apart in a few years’ time. Indeed, the idea of provisioning new equipment when we are close to a system-wide conversion to automated fare collection begs the question of how serious the TTC really is about the latter.
One big complaint about TTC information services is their availability during business hours only. The TTC hopes to incorporate a complaints line into the City’s 311 service so that customers can call in immediately when an incident occurs. The TTC should simply ditch its own info line and make transit information part of 311, transferring staff if necessary to the City operation.
Passengers expect cleaner stations. Report after report showing how Toronto’s mythical “station cleanliness index” is inching up year by year simply are not enough. There are now plans in the TTC budget to beef up the cleaning staff, but even this is a multi-year scheme. Don’t expect spotless stations soon.
Good customer service is to be an organizational goal. After several years’ focus on safety and absenteeism, the TTC will now look to its customers. They should never have looked away.
Particularly striking in the list of goals is “reliability”. This is the heart of good transit service, and it removes many of the annoyances that plague both riders and operators. The TTC must stop finding excuses for poorly managed and operated services.
If changes in scheduling rules are needed to substantially reduce short turns, then find out how to make this work.
Don’t tell us about all the added route supervision, show us the service evenly spaced out rather than running in packs. The operation of the St. Clair car since it reopened to Lansdowne is a disgrace. This was not even mentioned during the press conference.
The TTC did talk about the subway shutdown brought on by Enbridge Gas construction work. This incident revealed not only a problem with clear communications, but with emergency preparations in general. Certainly, buses can never replace the subway particularly at the peak time. However, the first thing that should happen in this type of situation is the closure of an affected street like Yonge to all non-essential traffic so that buses can move as quickly as possible. The TTC, City and Police do not appear to have a standard protocol for this type of situation, and it’s badly needed.
Without question, there are employees whose public manner leaves much to desire, but they are, in my experience, a minority. Both passengers and employees are made all the more sensitive and aggressive when they must deal with irregular service and an almost total lack of information. Fix those problems, and some of the contention between riders and staff will disappear. It won’t be perfect, but those employees who want to do a good job need to see that management is actively trying to improve their lot.
Many of these initiatives will take time to be implemented on the street, and a review committee must exist long enough to compare promises to reality. The TTC is not a credible evaluator of its own success, if only because it has ignored its problems far too long.
I tried the trip planner when it was let out “by accident” and it couldn’t find 100 Queen Street West, it gave me 100 Queensdale. I know I have been to City Hall countless times. I tried from home and work, and other destinations. Nothing. Oh it was so funny.
Why don’t they just incorporate myttc.ca? I mean they’ve done the work. Hire the two guys, buy myttc.ca off them, etc…
I am surprised (at the same time I am not) that they did not invited you. If I was the Chair you would have been the first person I would contact. Why hire all these experts who I seriously doubt their transit usage. What works for Air Canada might not work for the TTC. What works for…you get the idea right?
There is a ttc guy who is standing by the metal columns on the SB of bloor-yonge who was answering questions. Oh my god they finally figured it out.
I was taking the bus home which meant taking one night time streetcar to a bus then a second bus (3 transit vehicles). The bus that I took after the streetcar will change to the route of the second bus.
The bus driver said hello and asked me if I was going to continue after the route change, I said yes. I used to go home at 3-4 in the morning the same route for years. He actually remembered me. As usual many times I fall asleep from long hours at work. When the bus got to my stop (a minor stop, not like sheppard / finch / jane / bloor / etc…) he woke me up with an “excuse me sir isn’t this your stop?”. I said yes, I got up and left, before I could say thank you, he told me “have a good night”. I said thank you. I have rode this driver’s bus many many times.
TTC Customer Service doesn’t have to be like remembering every customer, I am sure he wouldn’t of remembered me if I went home during rush hour PM.
I always say thank you to the driver when I get out of the bus/streetcar and a simple “you are welcome” can do a lot.
How are you doing today?
Thank you (when depositing fare or showing pass)
are among the things they can do. I know during rush hour if they say thank you/hello to every customer that boards their bus/streetcar they will loose their voices.
Even if I get the worst service, I will still say thank you when I leave the bus/streetcar. I had at times in extreme cold the driver stop on the farside to pick me up or even wait on nearside (?) for me.
I remember one time on my way to get the 68 Warden bus, one of the last ones, I ran, as usual the bus bay floors are wet and I slipped. A TTC driver who was in the bus bay came up to me and asked me if I was ok.
Oh yeah, I have had my share of drivers who had a huge stick up their rears, the size of the CN Tower.
Yo Adam, since you take transit yourself and I seen you on the subway before and we took a streetcar together (with Steve), go talk to the people at a bus stop and ask them how Transit in the city can be improved.
Not to bash Vice-Chair Mihevc, he’s awesome, but so many articles/blog posts and comments from him and others are positive, but when I am on the 512 St. Clair stops people are so angry at him, I never see those being communicated.
All the commissioners should go on transit and ask what us riders would want to see improved. Specially in their own wards.
I do understand that Commissioners Hall Mylczin and Moeser being on the extreme ends would make it harder for them to go out outside their wards but the effort will count.
“How may I help you?”
“How may I be of service?”
I so want to hear that from the TTC drivers and commissioners.
I wonder how many commissioners outside Giambrone actually ride Transit frequently.
Oh yeah, on the info line thing – I have complained MANY times that it is horrible that it is 9-5 weekdays only.
I was going towards Kennedy and saw certain people trying to steal a subway map, this was 11:30pm, me I ain’t calling, hey no voicemail.
I saw at 11:30pm onwards the garbage cans thing being thrown over. Yes they were drunk. That time was pre-@bradttc but even if he was around I am sure he would have been sleeping. I wasn’t going to go all the way to mezzanine level out of my way around midnight to tell the booth collector.
Get an answering machine, they range from $9.95 to thousands of dollars. Many of them can be accessed from outside. I can check my answering machine from Cuba if I want.
I think the Chairman has just begun his mayoral campaign!
I’ll believe they really care about customer service when I see it. For starters, how about actually having a customer care/service department?
I strongly agree with incorporating the TTC into 311 service.
I wrote here about my bad experience with the Dufferin bus not showing up at Downsview station. All the passengers were left standing out in the cold for 30 minutes with no explanation, no nothing. There was nowhere to call and none of us wanted to go into the subway station to talk with the collector for fear of missing the bus when it did come.
In short, insanely bad, customer-hostile service. If I were to treat my customers that way, I would be instantly fired.
There are many, many people whose strong, burning anger at the TTC is because these people strive to provide superior service to their customers all day long. Then, when it is time to go home, they become TTC customers and get abusive, hostile service.
What is this grumbling I’m hearing about a “uniform review”? I sincerely hope it’s *not* about instituting a “casual Friday” approach, or dumbing down the uniform. Keep the dress shirts and ties, as it lends at least some degree of dignity and professionalism to the front-line staff. If anything, I think uniform requirements should be even more strictly enforced, as too many drivers either have the Louie De Palma look going from Taxi, or are covered in too much ATU 113 gear that they look like they’re going for a jog. Heck, as far as I’m concerned, bring back the forage caps as a requirement. I don’t see the point in trying to score customer service points if your staff look like slobs. It’s frustrating to see one driver look neat and professional, then see others like they just rolled out of bad. A “uniform” should be just that.
Steve: If a uniform dress code is part of larger package that include actions by management to improve the customers’ lot and hence reduce the reasons they might have to be upset with the TTC, then it makes sense. If it’s just an exercise in finger wagging and discipline for its own sake, it’s doomed. A rose by any other name …
Your second-last paragraph is very wise. There are lots of well-meaning TTC employees (including managers) who are trying to make things work. It’s the bad apples that cannot be disciplined or induced to retire, let alone be fired, that cause a disproportionate amount of the grief. The inspectors are a bad joke and a waste of everyone’s time and money. For all the talk of technological and systemic fixes, it may be as much a matter of demographics, like the petty crime rate. But it might also be a matter of cultivating (including judicious weeding) a culture of public service rather than one of entitlement and grievance. I’d love to hear Mr. Giambrone address that!
There are too many legalities to be worked out in this case. We’re dealing with something that is essentially intellectual property and even if the folks at myttc.ca gave the site to them with a bow on top, the TTC would still not take it.
I remember a situation a few days ago where one of the buses on route 14 got caught up by some accident situation, meaning that it was essentially out of service. None of us at Davisville station knew that, so we waited for 30 minutes for the next bus, when I’m sure that this information must have reached TTC hq right next door. It would be courteous for the driver of that bus to, say, have someone at the station get up and tell us that our bus wasn’t coming.
What would be the best form of customer service….Lesseee, hmmm….I know!
How about: MORE SERVICE FREQUENCY?! Nah, they’d never go for that…
As for “rude” bus drivers: There may be more of them, but that’s because, for one thing, the system is bigger than a generation ago (but only just!), and, secondly, the job morale sucks. Drivers are caught between management and, at times, a surly public. Combine that with dodging a lot of bad driving, and you have a farily stressful job.
If Adam Giambrone has made this announcement near the beginning of his time as TTC Chair it might have been impressive. Doing it at the end makes him seem ineffectual.
He had success with Transit City and the Ridership Growth Strategy, both those both really only involved asking other politicians for money. Either they say yes or no.
The customer service improvements will require someone to go in a get management and employees act and think differently, which is a much bigger challenge, even if it doesn’t involve a lot of money.
Steve: I really must point out that Transit City was David Miller’s announcement, and flowed directly from his platform. Adam Giambrone inherited it, but without Miller, it would not have happened.
Although there are several problems, as Steve has noted, one of the biggest issues for me is the lack of cleanliness at stations and on vehicles. What is really irksome about this issue is that it should be very easy and relatively inexpensive to address.
I know the stations are getting older and it’s impossible for them to look as they did 40+ years ago, but cleaning them regulary would go a long way in improving their appearance. Picking up the litter is not enough. Clean the walls, stairs, handrails, etc.
As for vehicles, I find it embarrassing that on a recent trip to NYC, I found their subway cars and buses to be generally cleaner than ours, or at least they appeared to be cleaner. Maybe I got lucky, and others who have spent more time in New York can support or refute my claim, but it just seems odd to me that a system as large as the MTA can have cleaner, better kept vehicles than the TTC.
I remember well a comment that Howard Moscoe once made when he was the councilor in charge. Love him or hate him (and many did) I think he was bang on when he said, in addressing complaints about the attitudes of drivers, something to the effect of, “Given the choice between having a courteous driver and one with safe driving skills, the safety of passengers comes first.” The two need not be mutually exclusive, but the way some people drive in this city, given the choice between a good driver and a polite one, I know who I would pick in a heartbeat. That said, improvements can be made, and yes, improved customer attitudes would be a start. So would changing a union head that puts the members first, the Commission second and the customers last. Funding and service could be better.
If I had to identify one thing that I thought needed to be improved over anything else, it would be communication. There are phones and other devices in every vehicle, use them- if the subway is down, tell the surface drivers so that they may announce to their passengers before arriving at a station that can’t be used. If Bloor/Yonge is closed due to police investigation, and the inspectors tell you if going westbound, to walk to Bay and use your transfer there, call the guy in the booth at Bay – so he doesn’t freak out when a bunch of people show up with transfers with the same story, so that he doesn’t think you’re all ripping him off (this happened to me in the autumn one day, I thought he was going to call security on us). If the people on the front line are not kept informed, and get bombarded with complaints and can only say “I don’t know, they don’t tell me anything”, that’s also part of the perceived uselessness of the system – and if I was getting the brunt of things out of my control, I’d start resenting my customers as well.
“If your bus is late, should the agency pay?” There is an article on this at humantransit.
Steve: There is another excellent article linked from the first one on the concept that “on time” has more to do with headway than with schedules. Managing to a schedule, including some rather elastic idea of what “on time” actually means, is easy to measure and allows management to blame everything on congestion and other natural disasters. Managing to a headway requires actually doing something to regulate and improve service, to adapt to the conditions on the street whatever they may be.
For the life of me I cannot see how this is necessary. You need a review panel to learn that customers like to be treated politely and picked up promptly?
As for the supposed bill of rights, I don’t imagine we’re going to have any substantive (for example, legal) means of obtaining redress if one of those rights is violated. Or two or three, or twelve.
There seems to be more emphasis in this announcement on letting people at the bus/streetcar stops know how long it will be before the next vehicle comes rather than ensuring that that the time between vehicles is reasonable.
Steve: Next car/bus signs are a technology project and require only money to install. Properly spacing the service requires abandoning all those claims it couldn’t be done because of “congestion”. An organization cannot fix a problem if it won’t admit that it exists.
My biggest concern is Presto: why is it not here already, and what are they doing to make it come faster?
I wanted to use the Subway at Yonge and Bloor on Thursday. There was only one booth open, and both token machines were empty. This meant that an enormous line built up because some insane woman did not know how to use the debit machine to buy tokens at the only functioning booth. The system fell apart because it hinged on the behaviour of a single person.
And – this is years ahead of what they need to fix now – the TTC needs to start really thinking about the two main types of TTC passengers, and making the TTC good for both: the commuter and the newbie. Commuters get frustrated when people jam up the system because they are confused and newbies get frustrated because they don’t know what’s going on. Presto machines and a customer service expert (rather than an injured bus driver squeezing a few years out before retirement) at an information booth would make the TTC experience so much better for both parties.
Steve: There are a few problems with Presto that have limited its usefulness to the TTC. First, and most important, is the need for Presto to support a more complex fare model and to provide some method of integration with the existing system. As a simple example, over half of all adult fares are now paid using a Metropass. What are monthly pass users supposed to do in a hybrid system with only a limited implementation of Presto? Also, Presto does not now handle “modern” forms of fare media such as the use of credit/debit cards or PDAs (cell phones, etc) for the identification of a passenger.
The cost of implementing Presto system-wide on the TTC is quite large, with recent estimates over $400-million. This cost needs to be verified so that we go into the project knowing, clearly, how much money it will take (up or down from that estimate) and with a clear understanding of the services it will provide. My understanding is that Queen’s Park has already spent well over $100-million to implement Presto as it is today on GO and a few small bus systems.
The issue of system cleanliness is not just something for maintenance staff to solve, but also one for riders and special constables to address.
It is apparent that there are many people in this city who think that simply dropping garbage on the ground is a legitimate way of going about your daily business. Many of these people may be too late in life to have their ignorance and inconsiderate attitude cured, but we sure can fine them heavily enough that dropping that coffee cup instead of holding onto it until you reach a garbage bin won’t seem like such a great idea anymore.
I was told by a TTC employee that a great deal of money is spent replacing window panes on subway cars because of the geniuses who decide to vandalize them. Obviously they think this sort of behaviour can go on with impunity.
Part of the solution has to be more presence from special constables on the system and a more pro-active ridership that will report vandalism when it is observed. Routinely handing out fines or even banning people from the system for repeated littering and/or vandalism would go a long way to keeping the system clean.
Rishi Maharaj says:
Hear Hear! The last/first car by the driver cabs are the worst for garbage and scrachitti. When it is the last car,the vandals get away with it most. Cameras should at least be installed in these 2 areas for now until cameras are installed system wide in the cars.
Steve: The TTC is installing anti-scratchitti covering on car windows. This is a peel-off plastic which is both difficult to mark, but if damaged can simply be pulled off and replaced. Of course they have to have “good”, unmarked windows underneath to start with.
In and of itself, I’m skeptical about this. But an apology five days before he launches a mayoral bid? Either he thinks people in this city are astonishingly stupid, or the unions are so in the tank for him, he’s banking on doing whatever he wants.
The patheticness and/or arrogance of this city and this transit system still amaze me.
Because of the incident with Graffiti in the new tunnel at Brampton Station that I mentioned and its quick removal as soon as the weather warmed up, I went to to every GO station on the Lake Shore West line and could not find any sign of Graffiti. I did find a couple of spots that looked like the had been well cleaned recently. It looks like GO has a policy to stay on top of any thing like this and it appears to be working. If the system looks clean and well maintained then is is more appealling. The TTC could take some lessons in presenting a good image from GO.
I also notice that GO does a good job informing its bus drivers regarding traffic conditions. When I have to go to Pickering for work, I often hear the supervisor calling in to each bus and asking about conditions, and would advise them alternate routes if there is trouble (e.g. take express vs collectors on the 401). I never hear the bus driver or the supervisor call each other except at termini. While I realize calling someone in heavy traffic is not a good idea (which can be fixed with bluetooth dongles), should the TTC look at improving bus driver-supervisor communications?
The biggest improvement the TTC can make is improving the quality of interactions between front-line employees and the public. No excuses. Just do it. I don’t want to hear about how much abuse they face from riders that excuses occassional rudeness. It’s not tolerable for anybody else in a CS position. If the TTC had the friendliest employees, people would let so many of their other failings slide.
And after that comes professionalism. No amount of LCDs in the station is going to make up for watching your streetcar operator get off and waste 7 minutes to do his banking or coming across a sleeping station collector. I can’t believe the ATU president is actually criticizing the riders who capture these misdeeds on camera. There is a coming crisis of confidence if these pictures keep coming in. The public wants action, not excuses. Get it done.
Regarding GO reporting traffic conditions constantly vs. TTC not, TTC buses cannot be re-routed on-the-fly just because traffic is bad. For GO buses, which have several kilometres between stops, re-routing is fine, as they won’t miss locations passengers want to get on and off. TTC doesn’t have that flexibility except for some very select few express bus services. Almost any re-routing of a TTC surface route warrants a service disruption notice, which is not the case for GO. If routes cannot be changed freely like GO’s, then there’s really no point for TTC drivers to constantly report traffic conditions beyond what’s typically recorded for determining average travel speeds.
The anti-scratchitti plastic measures aren’t as good now as when they were first used. Originally they were almost impossible to see, cut to the exact size of the window and well attached all over.
Recently I’ve seen several which were 1mm or more smaller than the window, and several which had bubbles under the plastic, often at the very edge. This allows someone to remove the plastic and damage the window, as well as being unsightly in itself.
Steve, You bang away at this theme all the time, and you are SO right. Keep on!
One right we apparently don’t have is to buy a pass on January 31 at St. Clair West station at 3 in the afternoon. They’d run out. And as usual there was no official sign, just a handwritten one. Posted in front of the ticket taker, so you had to get up to the window to see it. They do this every month. You’d think by now they’d have made provisions for things like this.
Steve: At least have a preprinted sign saying “Metropasses sold out”. I suspect this sort of thing will continue until we move to “smart cards” at which point we will have a whole new batch of excuses, variations on “the computer can’t do it”.
Yesterday at Dundas Station I watched a passenger – an ignorant boor – confront a TTC Collector at the “open gate” temporary ticket/pass location that is opened at busy times. This boor was screaming and in the face of the TTC Employee that was just doing his job. I believe that an “Assault” does not actually have to involve physical contact – just intimidation – and if that is the case the passenger should have been charged. He was beyond the pale.
Now, one might wonder, why was this passenger so out of control? It was because one of the three entrances at Dundas (Northbound) was closed while the collector counted his cash. The poor inconvenienced passenger was forced to actually walk 10 metres or so to the next open entrance while the “Civil Servants” in his opinion did nothing. The TTC employee was quite restrained, and when this boor moved on was very friendly – joking even – with the accumulated line up of passengers (including me).
Who is responsible for this state of affairs? Obviously one individual was lacking in the decorum and self control necessary to be a functioning and contributing member of society. But who put him up to it? I say the right wing press and media. Tabloids, Talk Radio, Blogs and sadly, the supposedly Liberal Star all feed the “politics of resentment”. Personally, I don’t think standing in a drafty subway station on a Sunday at the overflow ticket entrance is all that “cushy” a job. Rather it is a dignified contribution to the successful running of our City and a benefit to our lives as Citizens. While the “boor” should know better – and possibly be punished – the real blame lies with the fomenters who twist the truth and malign hard working TTC employees.
Steve: Yes, the media have to shoulder part of the blame for encouraging a confrontational attitude and playing to the “me” mentality that affects everything from demands for more road space to the lack of civility in any public realm.
I am somewhat wary of window coverings. Too often they are tinted (bluish/grey usually) and they often produce a blurry effect. We don’t want the cure to be worse than the crime.
I have heard (from a very credible source) that the TTC is going to be enforcing the dress code (yes – one does actually exist!) much more strictly for uniformed employees. Under the dress code, we are not permitted to wear non-issued clothing items. As for the wearing of forage caps, I hope not – they are uncomfortable and hot. As well, the high seat backs of the Recaro seats tend to knock them forward using them to fall into your line of vision. I agree with the comments about the appearance of some of my co-workers – I am ashamed by their appearance.
“….the real blame lies with the fomenters who twist the truth and malign hard working TTC employees.”
I am sure you guys by now have heard of the TTC streetcar operator on the Queen Route who, while with a whole bunch of passengers inside his streetcar, actually gets off his route to go to an ATM, line up behind an ATM to withdraw money.
And yes, it was the Toronto Sun who reported on this.
Why did the operator choose to stop his streetcar at that time? Couldn’t he have waited until the end of his route where he takes his break? Or maybe waited until after his shift to do that? Certainly any other employee is not allowed to leave his/her post to run personal errands?
Where is common sense these days anyway? Want to get cash? Wait until a proper time and not while you’re on shift. Need a coffee? Why not bring a thermos and have it filled with your favourite Tim Hortons or Starbucks? Why do people insist on stopping their vehicles in front of a McDonalds instead of preparing enough food to last you to the day? And again it is not the “minority” but almost every trip has something like this. The only “silver lining” is that these events are usually limited to non-peak periods.
Sorry, but the Toronto Sun’s aim is to ensure that taxpayers get the best possible treatment for the taxes they pay. And seeing some dude abandon his post for an ATM or some chap napping on the job does not do wonders for our expectations. Everyone at the TTC needs to get their priorities straight if they want to be an effective transit system.
As one person elsewhere stated: we don’t care if the average TTC operator about how much the transit operators make if the service is top notch. I will go on record and say that in the past I have wondered about cutting TTC employee salaries. Only because I have seen the declining quality of service, it makes you wonder if your tax dollars are being properly spent. And no amount of throwing the money at TTC operators is not going to change the attitudes of bad apples.
Steve: I have a completely different take on this arising from the Queen car split experiment. We were told that the reason passengers could not ride around the loop, despite TWO separate orders from head office that they should do so, was that ops didn’t want passengers on the car while they took their layover. Hmmm. It’s ok to leave a car full of people to run out to a store, but not while taking a layover.
As for picking up coffee, I have no problem with that. Many loops where the operator does have a scheduled layover have no fast food joints available at all. But the ATM is really beyond the pale. You don’t need loot to drive a streetcar.
I will reiterate again: THERMOS. Unionized construction workers also do not always have the benefit of a coffee truck/fast food joint outside where they are working. But they come well prepared. Why cannot unionized TTC workers do the same thing?
Steve: There are times that your slash and burn attitude to TTC workers really gets annoying. I am sure all the not so highly paid folks working in offices would love to take your advice, be chained to their desks, and never, ever have a coffee.
Transit vehicles unfortunately don’t have portapotties. If thermoses are to be encouraged, then washroom breaks would need to be allowed. One popular chain of public washrooms is called Tim Hortons.
I don’t usually agree with Stephen Cheung but he has a point on this one. Almost a month ago, I was on the westbound 39E Finch East bus, which stopped twice so the driver could get 2 coffees, the first at a Petro Canada at Victoria Park. Apparently the coffee he bought had was pretty bad as just before Leslie, he got off, chucked the coffee, and went into a Tim Hortons to get another one. This made a ride which was supposed to be a convenient express ride get delayed by over 5 minutes by my estimate. This is despite the fact that there is indeed a Tim Hortons establishment at the Finch Station itself. There were so many people on the “Express” bus wondering why we had to wait so he could get a proper cup of coffee.
I’m not trying to denigrate TTC employees, but I’ve noticed many riders getting annoyed whenever the driver stops to get a coffee. Not even an announcement saying “I’ll be just a few minutes”. And even if the whole thing takes less than sixty seconds. Society’s rush to “get things done quickly and efficiently” has pretty much taken over our lives.
And Stephen: shush, I think you’ve made your point already.
I’m sure by now that you have heard of the driver taking a lengthy break on the 310 route.
From The Star
Politi alleges that, after the driver again left riders shivering on the bus while he went into the doughnut shop, he confronted Politi on his return and dared him to complain. Politi said the operator gave his bus and badge numbers and told him that the union would protect his job. Politi alleges that the driver swore at him and noted that the video camera in the bus was recording the whole incident.
Ross has hit the nail on the head. While I can understand the necessary “call of nature” statement by Leo, there is a much more serious problem and that is that TTC workers have a lackadasial approach to their job. Taking smoke breaks, withdrawing from an ATM, taking seven minutes at a coffee shop when the bus is already late, blatant disregard for passengers, comments about “the union would protect him”. All of this does not add up positively towards the impression of the TTC. While one may say that he is in the minority, impressions matter and people will likely think of all the times their driver has been MIA while getting his coffee.
In this case however, it is good to know that the driver himself has been suspended pending an internal review. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he is still driving a bus after the review is over. The fact that the union is likely to step up to defend this delinquint shows that the union has its priorities all wrong. It should work with TTC management to make transit more beneficial to its patrons and not defending a long and growing list of bad apples.
As for Leo Petr’s comment, while you have a point, I should also point out that most routes have endpoints that end at TTC stations. And most TTC stations have a washroom for employee use only. Surely that could be a consideration. As for the other drivers whose routes do not end at a TTC stop (47, 501, 502, 503, etc) I would give those drivers a benefit of a doubt. But still, as indicated by the growing list of comments on that article, wouldn’t a thermos minimize the need to stop at a Timmys for whatever reason?
Like it or not, this is the reality. Everyone must get used to it, including the TTC.
Steve: Sounds like they need two thermoses. Getting things done quickly and efficiently has nothing to do with it. The night buses need to run as close to schedule as possible so that passengers can make connections. Of course, the TTC can’t even run reliable service past their own front door on Bathurst Street during the day time, but that’s another story.
It’s all very well that the TTC will be installing new pass vending machines, but they’ve had two at Bathurst station for over a month now: unplugged, cordoned off and with a laser-printed ‘out of service’ sign taped to each one from about the second day. The fare collectors know nothing about when they’ll be in service; the customer service line knows only that they don’t work yet – ‘maybe in a month or two’.
They were recently plugged in so that riders can see the screen telling us they’re out of service. It seems like the TTC is not in a particular hurry either to assist or inform its patrons.
Steve: I would not be the least bit surprised if different crews were responsible for installing the electrical services, physically installing the machines, setting up and testing the machines, etc.
I saw a followup article regarding that driver’s suspension stating that the guy had to use the washroom. Knowing this does blurs the lines quite a bit. I have a mild digestive disorder which makes me take extended trips to the loo of the really stinky, messy kind. And it comes on without warning, making an almost sudden emergency to use the loo. Thus, when this happens, an average trip for me thus takes about 5 minutes, depending on the severity of the um… problem. Maybe he simply couldn’t hold it anymore. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
Having said that, I do agree that the conduct of the driver was rather unacceptable. Had he stated beforehand or afterhand that he really had to go, then that would have placated his passengers. I do agree with your comment about the need to “minimize” these trips.
As for the coffee part: most establishments don’t simply allow walk-ins to use the washroom, you have to pay for something first.