City debates merits of citizen advisory committee for TTC

The Toronto Transit Commission should create a permanent citizen advisory committee, executive council members recommended today.

The citizen advisory committee would consist of TTC riders interested in making recommendations on customer service issues. This committee would be separate from the recently-unveiled customer service panel led by hotelier Steve O’Brien.

Councillor Paul Ainslie made the motion to discuss the creation of a citizen advisory committee. He said he’s concerned that O’Brien’s customer service panel will focus on the big picture and ignore the everyday concerns of transit riders.

“I’m sure (O’Brien) will be able to give some input on general customer service, but in terms of actually riding a transit system, I don’t know how adequate his comments or suggestions might be,” Ainslie said. “I’m really looking for a panel made up of mostly people who ride the transit system.”

Ainslie made the motion in response to complaints he’s received about TTC customer service.

“Lack of service, buses clumping … The common thread through all of it is that people would like more input into the TTC. People feel that they want their voices heard,” Ainslie said.

Mayor David Miller agreed with Ainslie that a committee made up of transit riders would be helpful.

“Will it solve all of the structural issues? No,” he said. “But this will help address the front line issues and will help modernize the instincts of public transit and I think it’s worthy of support.”

Others weren’t convinced. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti voiced his concern that the committee wouldn’t be able to solve larger issues.

“Do we want to pretend that a group of advisory people are going to, at the end of the day, solve the problem? My personal opinion is no, that’s not going to happen,” Mammoliti said.

Ainslie said he hoped the TTC would seriously consider any recommendations made by the citizen advisory committee.

“I hope they’ll actually be taken seriously,” Ainslie said. “(I hope) they’ll be seen as a legitimate group that’s endorsed by Toronto City Council and the TTC will recognize that and accept and work on any suggestions that are put forward.”

The executive council members voted in favour of the motion. They have passed their recommendation on to the TTC, which will now decide whether or not to create the committee.