Better washrooms are the better way, TTC chief customer service officer says

Chris Upfold has a familiar complaint about the TTC: the public washrooms could be cleaner.

“I have a three-and-a-half-year-old son so sometimes we need the washrooms,” he said. “We did use them but they weren’t pleasant.

“It’s not that you expect gold gilt or anything. You expect it to be clean. … It was pretty clear that they weren’t up to the snuff that anybody would want to use.”

Luckily for Upfold and the TTC’s 1.5 million daily riders, he’s the transit commission’s chief customer service officer, and it’s his job to listen to commuter complaints and improve customer service.

OBSERVER RADIO NEWS: The TTC is in the midst of refurbishing all 10 of its public washrooms. The Observer’s Sarah Taguiam has more.

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After years of complaints, the TTC is cleaning up its act. All 10 of its rest stops will get a floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall makeover by June this year. The washrooms are getting new floor finishes, wall tiles, hand dryers, heaters, urinals, ventilation and lighting.

In addition to being made over, rest stops will be cleaned more frequently, including a power wash every night, up from every four days.

But some are skeptical.

Spacing Magazine senior editor Shawn Micallef said the only way the TTC can flush away the seedy image of its washrooms is by delivering on its promise of increased maintenance.

“The key part is, Will they clean them up?” Micallef said. “If they’re maintained then I think people will get in the habit of thinking that it’s a nice place to go to the washroom and not a creepy one.”

The TTC receives a few dozen weekly washroom complaints, Upfold said. But, he added, fewer complaints have come in since the recent refurbishment of the rest stops at Finch and Kipling stations.

Mary Jane Balisong says otherwise.

Balisong, who stops at Finch daily, said the washrooms were quickly going back to their previous state of uncleanliness.

“They tried to fix some of the washrooms, but it just lasted for a few days and it’s very dirty again,” she said. “Tissues are everywhere, water’s on the floor and sometimes toilets are not flushed.”

Upfold acknowledged the rest stops won’t always be in pristine condition, but he did promise increased effort in keeping the facilities clean and performing continual condition assessments.

Micallef, who usually avoids the TTC’s washrooms, said he hasn’t set foot in one of the refurbished rest stops yet.

“But I look forward to using one — as long as they’re kept up,” he said, chuckling.