Today, the TTC issued a Media Advisory containing a letter for all TTC staff from Chief General Manager Gary Webster.
Our Customers Deserve Better
February 6, 2010
I don’t know about you, but I am becoming increasingly tired of defending the reputation of the TTC; tired of explaining what is acceptable and what is not; and tired of stating the obvious: that much of the behaviour being reported is, indeed, unacceptable.
You have heard me say that I am proud of the TTC. I still am, but I am not proud of what we have been dealing with over the last several weeks.
Two weeks ago I said that the vast majority of TTC employees care about the organization and do a good job, but we can all do better. I asked everyone to respond well. Some of you did. Clearly, some of you did not.
We all have to accept responsibility for allowing the TTC to drift into a culture of unacceptable operating discipline. In other words, we have deemed it acceptable for some employees to not do all aspects of their jobs.
We have two choices. We can continue to react to issues, deal with individual employee problems, and hope that the rest of our employees get the message, behave themselves and not get caught doing something they should not be doing.
The other choice, and the one we are going to take, is a much broader approach. Expectations need to be clear, especially for frontline employees. And employees need to be held accountable for their poor performance.
We are in the customer service business, but some of the behaviour our customers have encountered recently would suggest otherwise. Our customers pay a fare and the City provides hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the TTC. This public transit agency belongs to the very people we serve.
As Chief General Manager, I am ultimately accountable to our customers. As employees, you – and you alone – are accountable for your actions. The culture of complacency and malaise that has seeped into our organization will end. I hold all of management responsible to make this happen. Reviews and plans are under way to address systemic issues regarding customer service, but real change starts with you.
Chief General Manager
On the same day, Joe Clark, who writes about many issues including transit, but from a design, signage and accessability perspective, was on a Queen car where the operator clearly was wearing earphones. When Joe challenged him, the situation escalated including calls for assistance to Transit Control, and officious behaviour from a TTC Supervisor. Both TTC staffers persisted in claiming that photography on the TTC is illegal (it isn’t, and there is a specific section both in the bylaw and on the TTC website on this subject).
TTC staff may feel under siege from the hordes of camera-bearing riders, but I have absolutely no sympathy. If they are doing their jobs properly, there will be nothing to photograph.
Joe Clark can be a pain in the butt, but his valid messages are too often ignored by the TTC. (Even I have been the target of his less than decorous comments. Some folks consider a mention on his site as almost a badge of honour.) His frequent letters and deputations to the monthly meetings are almost always “received” (thanks, now bugger off), and hardly anyone at the meeting table pays any attention while he speaks. That is precisely the sort of treatment that sends guerilla photographers out into the streets looking for the most embarrassing shot they can find.
Good manners start at the very top, even when the customers or deputants at TTC meetings have messages you don’t want to hear.