Transit workers, commuters pessimistic about TTC vows to improve customer service

Last Wednesday the TTC announced another customer service panel, which will include eight members of the public who take the TTC regularly and top TTC officials.

They have also hired the first-ever customer service officer Chris Upfold, who has held a variety of customer service posts at the London Underground for more than seven years.

“These discussions to improve customer’s experiences have been going on for some time now,” TTC chair Karen Stintz said. “Customer service is a cultural mindset, we are committed to it even through fiscal challenges.”

Stintz said she’s received complaints from Scarborough residents, but stated that she could not remember any particular one off the top of her head.

Complaints such as fares are what concern commuters the most, Stintz said.

“It is possible that as part of the budget cuts, we would change the prices of fares.”

She insisted on keeping all bus routes while maintaining enough services for commuters.

Khyati Panee, a student at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus (UTSC) complained about buses being too crowded in Scarborough.

“Some stops are too far apart and commuters would have to walk huge distances to get to where they need to go,” Breanna Johnstone, a student at UTSC echoed.

“I have to wait for at least half an hour to get on bus 116 every day, I hate this route,” she said.

“I don’t think budget cuts are a good idea because services are already pretty bad.”

Johnstone does not have a choice because “the traffic is much worse if [I] were to drive to school instead”.

“I think the TTC understands what customers want, but it all boils down to the budget,” said Grace Mille, a UTSC student.

Anthony Hume, a regular bus driver of route 190 (Scarborough Centre Rocket Eastbound), thinks what makes public transit in Scarborough unique is its commuters.

“The socio-economic situation of Scarborough is different from other parts of Toronto,” he said.

“Usually when you’re further from the hub you deal with rougher people, you get the bad apples in the basket.”

Having written a two-page email about improving the TTC to Adam Giambrone, the previous chair of the TTC, Hume said he is a real advocate for good customer service.

His motto is “smiles are the best weapon. “

When asked what he thought should be the number one thing the TTC should improve on, he pointed out the technological aspect of public transit.

“ [The] TTC is still in its stone age,” he said.  “I’ve been to 28 different countries.

“In Europe, buses have three sets of doors, LED display panels.  It is like getting an iPhone; you’ll be like, now I don’t need a computer anymore!  Technology on Europe transit systems, especially in Turkey, is infinitely better than the TTC.”

A two-hour town hall meeting will be held at City Hall on Nov. 24.  Riders will be able to interact one-on-one with the staff in the first hour and the second hour will be opened up for questions.