On Thursday, November 20, 2014 the TTC held its sixth Customer Town Hall meeting in the Council Chamber at Toronto City Hall. Customers were given the opportunity to meet and greet senior management representatives from various departments. They were also provided with the opportunity to speak about their experiences, and to provide feedback, comments and other concerns to the Senior Management team. TTC staff distributed comment cards and promoted participation via Twitter.

View the November 20 Customer Town Hall on YouTube youTube Logo

Below is a summary of the various issues raised during the meeting, as well as the responses.

Customer Information

Issue:

Customers had concerns about the TTC’s communications and information sharing. They want to make sure they are receiving the necessary information when they need it.

Response:

We are continuously working to improve the quantity and quality of our onboard customer communications. In the next year we will make decisions around the content, frequency, and source of the message (Transit Control or the Operators).

We are also outfitting all streetcars with updated maps and the Ride Guide Lite, which hangs in every one of our surface vehicles. Every bus and every streetcar now has a map on it that you can take away with you to make it easier to navigate around our system.

Finally, to improve real-time information, we have rolled out another 60 next vehicle arrival screens (NVAS) across our subway stations this past year. By the middle of next year, all of our stations that have bus or streetcar connections will have a screen.

If customers have any feedback for us they can contact our Customer Service Centre daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. or call our Customer Information line at 416-393-4636 daily, except for Statutory Holidays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Customers can also use Twitter by following @TTCnotices, which advises all major delays and upcoming events. Riders can also check “Service Advisories” on the TTC’s website, or subscribe to My TTC e-alerts for real-time email notices for all major subway / RT, bus, and streetcar service disruptions. The Customer Information number closes at 6 p.m., and that is because you can get that information online or a whole bunch of different ways.

Surface Network

Issue:

Customers are frustrated with the level of service they receive along some of our routes. This is coupled with enquiries about the state of our aging fleet, which seems to further negatively affect service. This results in delays, bunching and gapping, and overall crowding on the vehicles when they do finally arrive.

Response:

There are a number of ways we are tackling all of the issues. We understand that our fleet is aging as we are forced to run our buses longer than any other transit system in North America due to financial constraints. While the buses are still safe to be on the road, they don’t always perform the way they should. In response, one of the first things we will be asking from City Council is to increase our budget to not only replace these aging buses, but to also add more buses to our fleet. In the meantime, we aim to improve our maintenance programs in the next two years to double the reliability of our bus fleet measured by the average distance between failures.

Unfortunately the same financial constraints, due to budget cuts in 2011 and 2012 (frozen budget but increasing ridership), forced us to lower loading standards on buses. This means we’re allowing buses to be more crowded to avoid customers having to wait too long for the next bus. Once budget is available, these standards will be revised.

We will also include more transit priority signals in the upcoming budget ask. An example of a line that would really benefit from them is King Street. The TTC moves 60,000 people a day compared to 20,000 private vehicles. Both the TTC and the City know that transit is the ideal way to move people along King Street and understand that priority signaling is the way to do it.

Issue:

There were questions about the cleanliness of our surface vehicles and what our plan to improve it is.

Response:

We don’t use antibacterial spray because it’s too costly for the benefit it provides and has to be reapplied once a year. The decision doesn’t make financial sense for the TTC as the money can be spent in more effective ways.
As far as the speed of the cleaning service is concerned, especially on the Toronto Rocket trains, it should be instant and there are no excuses for unwarranted delays. You will see this improve throughout the year.

Subway

Issue:

Questions about the subway service start time on Sundays were raised by customers who find 9 o’clock too late for them to make it to their jobs on time.

Response:

The reason for the later start on time on Sunday (9 a.m.) is that we need every single minute between closing on Saturday and opening on Sunday to do our maintenance work. We understand that this isn’t ideal for those who work on weekends, but it is a balancing act that we can’t currently work around.

The goal is to get the system in a good enough state of repair that we don’t need all these hours of maintenance between Saturday and Sunday. Once the system is in the state where we can do without the long maintenance, we can definitely have earlier starts on Sunday and even look at extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights.

Other issues

Issue:

Customers wondered about the plan to roll out PRESTO how our current monthly pass will function under PRESTO.

Response:

We have been working very hard to have a solid roll out plan for PRESTO over the next two years. Every low-floor streetcar that comes into service accepts PRESTO, and we will have around 10 more stations, besides Spadina, which already has PRESTO, equipped with PRESTO in the next year.

We will have a Metropass or Metropass equivalent on PRESTO that will set a cap on how much a customer pays in a month. Whether it’s a prepaid monthly pass, like the current Metropass, or a cap on paid rides is still to be decided.

Finally, if Metrolinx is willing to fund TTC co-fares like they currently do with other agencies, we will be more than happy to apply them.

Issue:

A number of customers mentioned customer discourtesy as one of the issues they experience on our vehicles.

Answer:

We’re rolling out a number of customer communications campaigns targeting how to behave on our vehicles. The language is very clear around the blue seats. There will be other campaigns to come, mainly on the use of the newly renamed ‘Emergency Alarm.’ We changed the name from “Passenger Assistance Alarm” to help clarify the intended use and to reduce the number of alarms pulled for the wrong reason.

Issue:

Customers didn’t understand why the TTC hasn’t deployed its new streetcars on the busier routes.

Answer:

There are four reasons why we haven’t deployed the new streetcars on busiest routes

  1. Bombardier has not supplied us with enough vehicles to fill one of our busier routes (example: King Street or Queen Street).
  2. The new vehicles draw more power than the old ones and need overhead wiring updates that aren’t yet available on all routes.
  3. Our new depot to house the vehicles on Queen and King isn’t quite ready yet.
  4. To enable diversions if there are any blockages on a route, we roll our streetcars out in pairs of routes. So after Spadina, you’ll see them out on Bathurst and Harbourfront.

We recognize that the 504 King and the 501 Queen are really busy, so we are revisiting our streetcar deployment plan. We do want to maximize capacity, so we are revisiting that at the moment.