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Old February 4th, 2010, 02:40 AM   #961
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TTC driver’s coffee break caught on video

Published On Wed Feb 03 2010


Tess Kalinowski Transportation reporter

Transit officials are investigating after a bus driver is caught on video spending seven minutes in a doughnut shop while his late-night riders wait.

The TTC is investigating and once again apologizing after an employee was caught on video taking a lengthy, unscheduled break.

Reuven Politi posted a dark, grainy video he shot Jan. 29 after being repeatedly delayed on the bus he takes up Bathurst St. on the way home from his job as a security guard in North York.

The 310 Blue Night bus usually stops at Finch and Bathurst at 2:46 a.m., where Politi gets on, and at Wilson Ave. the driver often leaves the bus, according to Politi.

The seven-minute video shows the driver exiting the bus and entering a doughnut shop, where he uses the restroom and then buys a drink. The bus is left idling, the door open. When a rider complains about the delay, the driver can be seen putting his finger to his lips in a gesture meant to silence her.

Politi said he only posted the video early Wednesday after politely asking the driver Tuesday night not to take his accustomed break when the bus was already 15 minutes late. According to Politi, the operator replied, “This is the 21st century, kid, not the ’60s; I can do whatever I want.”

Politi alleges that, after the driver again left riders shivering on the bus while he went into the doughnut shop, he confronted Politi on his return and dared him to complain. Politi said the operator gave his bus and badge numbers and told him that the union would protect his job. Politi alleges that the driver swore at him and noted that the video camera in the bus was recording the whole incident.

The TTC’s security images wouldn’t be used in an investigation of the driver because those cameras are only accessible by police and the operator’s conduct is an internal personnel matter, said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

Like similar incidents, including recent photographs of subway collectors caught snoozing on the job, this one will be thoroughly investigated, he said, adding that he immediately brought the video to the attention of the TTC’s top executives.

“It is not acceptable for a TTC operator to leave passengers on a running bus to get a coffee,” he said. “Our operators and collectors are public servants. They deal directly with customers ... in the jobs they do. They need to think about the passenger who is waiting on the bus at 3 a.m. while they’re taking seven minutes to get a coffee.

“To those customers, we apologize. We have a lot of work to do here,” said Ross, adding that the TTC needs to bolster the supervision of frontline staff.

Politi, who moved to Toronto six months ago from Israel via Copenhagen, takes three buses to work each night, including one York Region Transit bus. Although he is irked by the driver’s regular unscheduled breaks on the 310, and can’t understand why TTC riders leave their buses so dirty, transit here is otherwise excellent, he said.

“It’s the best transportation. I can go on TTC to any place in Toronto.”
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/arti...-on-video?bn=1
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Old February 4th, 2010, 03:44 AM   #962
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I saw a subway driver read a novel while driving the train and leaving the door open. I got out my cellphone camera to record him but he noticed.

Too bad he noticed.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 06:25 AM   #963
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I'm sure they're all looking out for big brother right now!
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Old February 4th, 2010, 06:54 AM   #964
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Originally Posted by urbanfan89 View Post
I saw a subway driver read a novel while driving the train and leaving the door open. I got out my cellphone camera to record him but he noticed.

Too bad he noticed.
The driver has no authority to take the video from you. You can still report it and send it to the Star for a news item.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 04:23 PM   #965
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TTC workers urged to fight back
Facebook group hints at work-to-rule campaign

Brendan Kennedy and Adrian Morrow
Staff Reporters


Toronto transit workers—tired of the public-relations thrashing they have taken over the past few weeks from discontented riders—are showing signs they will fight back.

Rumours are swirling on the Internet of a potential work-to-rule campaign by TTC employees after a Facebook group was launched for transit operators to share “suggestions on how to fight back to the recent photo and video harassment from passengers just looking to make trouble for us.”


The group, “Toronto Transit Operators against public harassment,” also encourages transit workers to post their own photos of passengers who break the rules.

The group’s membership is now restricted, but media reports over the weekend refer to a post made by a woman named Ruth at 8 p.m. Sunday, suggesting a possible work-to-rule campaign.

“Reminder to work to rule on Monday. Check out ATU site,” the post allegedly stated.

The Amalgamated Transit Union’s website has no information about any work-to-rule campaign, but parts of the site are restricted to members only.

The Facebook group was created after TTC management issued a terse memo to staff over the weekend, decrying the “complacency and malaise” within the organization and demanding that workers be held accountable when they demonstrate poor customer service.

In a statement to all staff, TTC chief general manager Gary Webster wrote that he is getting “increasingly tired of defending the reputation of the TTC; tired of explaining what is acceptable and what is not.”

Webster goes on to express his frustration that, two weeks after management demanded better customer service from front-line workers, the organization is still under fire for photos and videos showing TTC workers slacking off.

He says that expectations need to be clear and that customers deserve better for their fare.

The note to staff comes after a slew of customer complaints related to lacklustre performance by TTC workers, sparked by a video shot on a cellphone camera last month that showed a collector asleep in his booth at the McCowan subway station.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross the commission will no longer be commenting on such individual photos and videos, but Webster didn’t mince words in sharing his opinions with TTC staff.

“We are in the customer service business, but some of the behaviour our customers have encountered recently would suggest otherwise,” Webster wrote in his statement to staff. “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,” he added.

“The culture of complacency and malaise that has seeped into our organization will end,” Webster vowed. “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.
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/arti...ight-back?bn=1

When will the TTC operators learn that riders are not trying to "make trouble". They are trying to make trouble for themslves by sleeping on the job, taking breaks while on the job and being rude to the customer. If none of this is done, there is nothing to post to YouTube.


Quote:
Behaviour 'unacceptable,' TTC manager tells employees

Letter comes after incident involving a driver who confronted passenger filming on bus

Toronto — The Canadian Press Published on Saturday, Feb. 06, 2010 11:08PM EST Last updated on Monday, Feb. 08, 2010 1:13AM EST


The chief general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission has sent a second notice to all employees stating he is tired of “unacceptable behaviour” and a “culture of complacency.”

The letter comes after the latest incident involving a TTC driver who confronted a passenger shooting video on a cellphone.

CP24 reports the driver shut the bus down after the passenger refused to turn off his phone.

In the letter, Gary Webster says employees need to be accountable for their poor performance.

The TTC recently apologized to riders after a photograph surfaced of a subway collector caught napping on the job.

Another transit driver was suspended after video showed the driver taking an unauthorized break.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle1458997/
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Old February 8th, 2010, 04:59 PM   #966
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Work to rule to support inappropriate behaviour on the job?
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Old February 8th, 2010, 07:58 PM   #967
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Work to rule to support inappropriate behaviour on the job?
Yes, and honestly, it is difficult to tell if there has been work to rule imposed....even if it was, the level of service would be the same.

Quote:
TTC work-to-rule pitch fizzles

Brendan Kennedy and Adrian Morrow
Staff Reporters


A work-to-rule campaign proposed by some TTC workers appears to have fizzled, but the city’s transit union says its members remain frustrated at “having to work under the microscope.”

“We’ve got 13 and 14-year-olds that feel that they have an entitlement to film our operators in the performance of their duties, and that’s not acceptable,” said Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents Toronto’s transit workers.

Rumours of a TTC work-to-rule campaign started Sunday with posts made on a Facebook group after a stern memo from TTC management criticized the “culture of complacency and malaise” in the organization.

The note to staff came after a slew of customer complaints related to lacklustre performance by TTC workers, sparked by a photo shot on a cellphone camera last month that showed a collector asleep in his booth at the McCowan subway station.

Adding to the beleaguered transit system’s troubles, a bus driver was suspended indefinitely last week, pending an internal investigation, after a YouTube video shot by a frustrated rider showed the man taking a seven-minute coffee and washroom break while driving the 310 Blue Night bus south on Bathurst.

The TTC says it ran “problem-free” Monday morning, and there were no reports of any employees “working to rule.”

Kinnear said the call for working to rule was not initiated by the union, but by individual members who are frustrated by how they are being treated by TTC management and the public.

He said he had not heard of any specific work-to-rule actions occurring Monday.

The Facebook group, “Toronto Transit Operators against public harassment,” was formed to give TTC workers the opportunity to share “suggestions on how to fight back to the recent photo and video harassment from passengers just looking to make trouble for us,” according to its description. It also encourages transit workers to post their own photos of passengers who break the rules.

“Reminder to work to rule on Monday. Check out ATU site,” stated a post on the group’s wall, according to media reports.

The Amalgamated Transit Union’s Toronto website had no information about any work-to-rule campaign, but parts of the site are restricted to members only.

The Facebook group was created after TTC chief general manager Gary Webster sent a terse memo to staff over the weekend, demanding that workers be held accountable when they demonstrate poor customer service.

In a statement to all staff, Webster wrote that he is getting “increasingly tired of defending the reputation of the TTC; tired of explaining what is acceptable and what is not.”

Webster goes on to express his frustration that, two weeks after management demanded better customer service from front-line workers, the organization is still under fire for photos and videos showing TTC workers slacking off.

He says that expectations need to be clear and that customers deserve better for their fare.

“We are in the customer service business, but some of the behaviour our customers have encountered recently would suggest otherwise,” Webster wrote. “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,” he added.

“The culture of complacency and malaise that has seeped into our organization will end,” Webster vowed. “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.

Kinnear said Webster’s memo makes it appear as if “he has given up.”

“He seems to be putting all the problems and all the ills of the TTC on the backs of the frontline employees, when that’s just not reflective of what’s going on out there,” Kinnear said.

He added that Webster has a responsibility to defend the TTC.

“We do recognize that improvements have to be made, but for the (chief general manager) to simply put the onus on the frontline employees is irresponsible as far as we’re concerned.”

Kinnear said the union will be holding a news conference Tuesday morning, but he would not elaborate on the details.
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/arti...s?bn=1#article
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Old February 9th, 2010, 02:00 AM   #968
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Wrong Skybean, if work to rule were imposed, there would be an improvement in service!
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Old February 9th, 2010, 06:54 AM   #969
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Wrong Skybean, if work to rule were imposed, there would be an improvement in service!

I suppose there would be less sleeping on the job... finally TTC operators would get to work
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Last edited by Skybean; February 9th, 2010 at 07:17 AM.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 09:54 PM   #970
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maybe the staff's acquired that syndrome that causes sufferers to involuntarily fall asleep sometime since the day he was hired.....ain't it puzzling how that was even remotely newsworthy?
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Old February 25th, 2010, 07:32 PM   #971
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Originally Posted by KGB View Post
I wouldn't "slag" you over it...I just think it's a bad analogy to use for the city at large. New York's subway system is a hell of a lot worse.
KGB
Do you mean aesthetically or in terms of providing service?
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Old March 6th, 2010, 01:38 AM   #972
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TTC learning from Philly's transit revival
U.S. city offers lessons on how to turn around a system plagued with problems, rider complaints

Published On Fri Mar 05 2010

Tess Kalinowski Transportation Reporter


Complaints about old-fashioned tokens, dirty stations and surly service aren't unique to the TTC.

Officials at Philadelphia's SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) system were hearing them long before Torontonians began publishing pictures of sleeping subway collectors.

But when Joe Casey became general manager of SEPTA two years ago, he decided it was time riders knew their gripes had been heard by those at the top of the system, which includes regional rail similar to GO Transit, as well as buses, trolleys and a subway.

Casey's innovations – from making information kiosks more visible in stations to creating "quiet cars" on the regional rail – have transformed some of SEPTA's harshest critics into constructive allies.

"Communication, cleanliness, convenience and courtesy – those were the areas that our customers ranked us as lower in our customer surveys," he said.

Toronto officials, plagued with similar complaints, have been in touch with Philadelphia in their search for solutions, said Gary Webster, the TTC's chief general manager.

To transform SEPTA's culture, Casey named a general manager of customer service, Kim Heinle, who has a background in the hospitality industry. They introduced weekly classes in customer service for transit workers.

The system still gets just as many complaints – and Casey admits it's hard to gauge the success of that program. But on the other side of the equation, in two years, customer commendations have doubled.

SEPTA tries to follow up with customers on complaints and compliments within two days. Employees receive gift cards as rewards for good service. Managers also regularly visit train and bus stations to survey customer satisfaction.

Administrators assist on the front lines during service disruptions, and everyone's job review has a customer-service performance goal. Even retirees have been tapped to help assist riders at major community events.

SEPTA is also introducing some of the technology the TTC is trying to expedite in the wake of its recent troubles, including next-bus-arrival notifications. A proposal for a smart fare card is expected to roll out in the spring.

"Joe (Casey) is a commuter. He's ridden the railroad for years so he sees the system from a commuter's perspective," said Matthew Mitchell of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers. The group, which lobbies for transit funding and accessible service, used to have a more adversarial relationship with SEPTA.

Although the group is still critical, Mitchell says, "We don't have to make a public stink about things to get action."

When he got the job, Casey said he was going to clean up the system. Before a single cleaner had been deployed, people were congratulating him on the improvement.

"We had a negative image before I took over," he said. "That's slowly changing, but a lot of it is image."
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/...t-revival?bn=1
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Old March 7th, 2010, 05:56 PM   #973
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TTC paid executive's friend $50,000
[IMG]http://i48.************/28l7tyv.jpg[/IMG]

Kevin Donovan Staff Reporter

A senior Toronto Transit Commission official helped his long-time female friend – an amateur photographer – get a plum contract taking photos of public meetings and proposed building sites.

Project manager John Cursio recommended Robin Thoen for the job, then personally approved payments of public money to her totalling at least $50,000 over the past year. One of Cursio's grown children worked part-time for Thoen editing photos during this period.

The TTC said Cursio is in a conflict of interest and never should have recommended Thoen for the work. Senior transit officials are investigating. Though Thoen received payments, there is no contract setting out the terms of the job.


Cursio has been off work since the Star raised these matters with him and the TTC just over a week ago.

"That's a personal matter," Cursio said when asked by the Star about his relationship with Thoen and payments of public money to her. "You do what you have to do," Cursio said, before recommending the Star contact TTC public relations.

Thoen has not responded to questions about her contract or the relationship with Cursio. As to the photo contract, she told the Star she has no idea what the pictures are used for. "I don't know what they do with the photos," Thoen said.

"I go to the sites. They want before and after shots. I am sorry, I really don't have much information on this."

Cursio, who is married and lives in Etobicoke, has allegedly lived a double life for years, according to people who have socialized with him. They said Cursio participated in many discussions about renovation plans at Thoen's former East York residence and frequently hosted social occasions with her. The people who have socialized with him work in contracting jobs and fear they would lose government contracts if they spoke on the record.

Cursio is a veteran civil servant, who has been with the TTC since the spring of 2008. Prior to that he was at the Ontario Realty Corporation, a Crown agency that owns and manages Ontario government property. He met Thoen in the early 2000s and the two struck up a relationship.

The relationship was an open secret among some contractors and ORC officials. In 2004 Thoen purchased a home on Dunkirk Rd. in East York for $230,000 and Cursio often stayed there. Cursio and Thoen frequently entertained contractors at the home. During this time he helped Thoen plan the renovation of the home, which Thoen sold in 2008 for $705,000. She then purchased a house in Etobicoke for $710,000 on a quiet court, just over one kilometre from Cursio's matrimonial home.

At the TTC, Cursio is the project manager overseeing part of the ambitious new Transit City project to build eight new Light Rail Transit (LRT) lines to neighbourhoods not served by rapid public transit. His main responsibility is managing the design and construction of three massive "carhouses" to maintain and store new LRT vehicles.

As a senior official with Transit City, Cursio is supposed to sign a "conflict of interest declaration," which he and other officials are reminded of every few months by email. TTC spokesman Brad Ross said he cannot say for certain that Cursio signed the document.

The policy asks senior staff to declare any association they have with consultants or contractors who will receive payments of public money, not sign any invoices or cheques, and remove themselves from the conflict, said Ross.

In 2008, the TTC issued a tender call looking for a technical consulting company to design the carhouses. Cursio played a key role in evaluating bids for the project, which was awarded in December 2008 to design company AECOM Canada. AECOM will be paid about $8 million to plan the carhouses, and Cursio as project manager is one of three people who approves payments to subcontractors hired by AECOM.

Shortly after AECOM won the bid, Cursio was at a meeting with AECOM officials. Cursio told AECOM that "we need professional photography" on this project, said TTC spokesman Ross. The bid documents provided by AECOM do not list photography as work they are to do for the TTC.

According to Ross, AECOM officials at the meeting asked if Cursio had a recommendation. Cursio recommended West Point Photography.

Ontario records show that West Point Photography was only a few months old at the time, incorporated in August 2008, based out of Thoen's new home in Etobicoke. On her website, Thoen features numerous photographs of what she describes as "creative studies." Among the photos: dogs, shells in water, "water birds," and an orchid.

"Robin's creative photography is an eclectic array of focus that include abstract works, portraitures and studio art," her website states. A second section of the website describes her experience in construction photography. "Tracking the progress of construction projects is a specialty that West Point Photography has pursued for over many years," the website states, describing the fledgling company.

The TTC's Ross, who has been looking into the allegations of conflict of interest, said there is no written contract between AECOM and West Point. He said that between May 2009 and the present, Cursio approved payments to West Point of at least $50,000.

Thoen has taken photos of potential construction sites and streetscapes and also has photographed ratepayers at public meetings the TTC has held. At one recent meeting, over the proposed site near Lake Shore Blvd. and Leslie St., Cursio and Thoen were present and residents and community journalists who attended say Thoen took numerous pictures of residents critical of the TTC plans.

"A lot of people were concerned about the photographer," said Leslieville resident Caron Court, who attended the meeting to object to the plan that will have the rail line running close to her home. "We did not understand why she was taking our picture." Court said she argued with Cursio at the meeting, and described him as "rude and arrogant."

AECOM would not discuss the matter with the Star. In a written statement, communications manager Laura Soucek said AECOM "is not aware of any association between Mr. Cursio and West Point Photography."

Soucek said West Point was selected "after following a thorough assessment and evaluation process" and AECOM did not feel it was under "any obligation to use" the company. The Star pointed out West Point's slim resumé and AECOM's Soucek then said "we undertook what we believed to be an appropriate level of due diligence prior to retaining West Point."

When the Star first approached Cursio last week, he said, "West Point is doing a contract for us through AECOM" and would not answer further questions. The Star informed him it was investigating allegations of conflict of interest.

Next, the Star contacted the TTC and asked if officials there were aware of the Cursio-Thoen connection.

TTC officials, including a lawyer, met with Cursio, who denied any connection with Thoen, but did say they "have had lunch," Ross said.

After the Star did further research, and posed numerous questions to Cursio through the TTC, Cursio's story changed a bit.

"He has had coffee in her home," said Ross, after speaking with Cursio. Ross said Cursio also said, after being asked about his children working for Thoen, that his daughter had worked for her over a summer period.

Ross said Cursio had also recently tried to get Thoen a full-time job as a community liaison for the TTC, but hiring officials did not select her.

"We have told Mr. Cursio that this conflict should have been declared" and he should not have signed any documents relating to the West Point payments.

Cursio has now told his boss at the TTC that he will not answer any more questions.

"We are looking at all invoices from West Point now and we want to make sure (the TTC) got value for its money," Ross said.
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/...nd-50-000?bn=1
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Old March 8th, 2010, 04:59 PM   #974
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Time to get the auditor general in there!
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Old March 10th, 2010, 09:00 AM   #975
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Time to get the auditor general in there!
He got fired and the photographer was told that her services were no longer needed.

Cheers, m
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Old April 12th, 2010, 04:48 AM   #976
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TTC listens as riders vent
‘Operators do slack off a lot,’ TTC employee says
Published On Sun Apr 11 2010




Tess Kalinowski Transportation Reporter

Anger brought them together.

But when the TTC's union met face-to-face with riders at a town hall Sunday, there were few signs of the animosity that badly strained riders' relationship with frontline transit workers a couple of months back.

The first of three meetings organized by the transit workers' union proved that “the frustration we've been hearing about over the last few months isn't necessarily directed only at the frontline employees,” said Bob Kinnear, president of Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

“Yes there have been disappointing incidences, which the union does not condone in any way. But I think there's been some clarity that it's the underlying issues with service and lack thereof that more important issues,” he said.

The meetings were organized when anger at transit workers boiled over earlier this year. Already annoyed by a fare hike and token shortages, riders were outraged by published photos of a sleeping subway collector and video of a bus driver taking an unauthorized coffee break.

The 480-seat auditorium at Downsview Secondary School was more than half full as riders waited turns at the microphone to ask about why buses and streetcars don't arrive on schedule and why, after a long wait, they turn up in bunches.

They wanted to know:

• Who ordered new buses with a step up to the back so that strollers block access to the rear?

• Why doesn't the TTC order people to take off bulky backpacks?

• Why don't fare vending machines work?

• And why do buses seem to pull away when drivers can see someone running toward them?

The union spokespeople on the panel moderated by talk radio host John Tory, were apologetic.

The normally defiant Kinnear, who had earlier this year warned riders against abusing drivers and threatening to take transit workers' pictures, acknowledged that his members had a role to play in the customer service crisis.

He started the meeting by recalling his own frustration as a subway collector when a rider seeking directions couldn't understand what he was being told through the speaker.

Kinnear said he opened the door to his booth and pointed to a sign.

“Can't you read?” he asked the rider.

Kinnear said he's never forgotten the customer's apology because he couldn't read.

“We can take some responsibility for the dissatisfaction of frontline customer service,” he conceded.

“Operators do slack off a lot,” driver John Bethune told the audience, later stressing, “I didn't say anything that wasn't true.”


“TTC management need to go back to train us so we can do the job properly,” panelist and driver Anthony Wallace said after the meeting. “We need to make sure we serve the public to the best of our ability.”

While riders praised the union for organizing the meeting, several said they were frustrated because TTC management wasn't allowed to respond to many of the broader queries.

“It would have been a more productive meeting,” said Wilson bus rider Claudette Passby.

“The union leader is good at taking responsibility. But the union leader is not the one who should be up on the stage,” she said.

“I was looking for more about why more funding is not put into (the TTC), and why we don't have a better fare system,” said Carrie McLean, whose brother is a TTC worker.

She says the TTC's old-fashioned fare system should be replaced by the kind of smartcards available on other major transit systems such as London and Hong Kong.


“It was a waste of time for me to come. Management should have been up there because there's a big problem,” said McLean.

But Tory Moote, who attended the town hall with two friends from York University, said the threesome plan to go to the other meetings scheduled in the coming weeks because they want to hear more discussion of broader issues such as transit funding.

“We're angry and we want to ride the TTC. We don't want to drive,” said Alex, who didn't want her last name used. “These are all on the periphery of what's going on. Where's our money going? Why are a third of TTC employees being paid over $100,000?”

Senior TTC officials were on hand, however, to listen to rider comments.

The information will be considered along with other customer service initiatives underway at the TTC, including an expert panel that will be making recommendations for improvements in June, said chief general manager Gary Webster.

The public will have an opportunity to ask managers questions later, said Giambrone.

“What's exciting is you're beginning that dialogue,” he said. “It was frustrating for me because there were some answers I was wanting to give and talk about. There's some questions that might be better answered by TTC management and the commission. The customer service panel will be making an announcement over the coming weeks about their own customer engagement.”

But those events will not be in competition with the union-sponsored meetings, he said.

Prior to Sunday's event Kinnear said that he didn't know how many people to expect. The cafeteria next to the auditorium had been opened up with fruit and beverages prepared for those who might have to watch the meeting on monitors. But in the end, only a few TTC workers sat and watched there and the refreshments were packed away.

The session did, however, run overtime, with Tory allowing questions to continue for more than 30 minutes after a cable broadcast was scheduled to end.

Another town hall takes place on Sunday in Scarborough and in May 2 at Ryerson University. Information and other queries and comments can be directed to the union's website at wemovetoronto.ca.
Quote:

Audience nuggets:


Riders who attended the transit workers' union open house Sunday at Downsview Secondary School were equipped with clickers so the audience could be immediately polled on transit concerns.

Among the results:

• 32 per cent said their commute required riding on three TTC vehicles;

• 31 per cent said they had regularly seen avoidable cases of poor customer service by frontline transit workers in the last two or three years;

• 31 per cent said they had occasionally seen poor customer service within the last two or three years;

• 95 per cent answered “yes” when asked if TTC technology is out of date;


• 60 per cent answered “yes” when asked if they had experienced problems such as broken vending machines on the TTC;

• 75 per cent said they had seen TTC employees being threated or abused;

• 44 per cent said they strongly agree or agree with paying tolls or other taxes if the money was devoted to improving transit; 42 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed;

• 63 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that there is a problem with the way strollers are handled on the TTC;

• 59 per cent said they were frustrated by bunching of buses and streetcars;

• 42 per cent of the audience said they were regular TTC users.
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/...ders-vent?bn=1
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Old April 14th, 2010, 11:54 PM   #977
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TTC driver charged after passenger assaulted, police say

Incident on bus near Bayview and Lawrence happened at 10:45 a.m., police say

Richard Blackwell

Globe and Mail Update Published on Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 12:16PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2010 2:15PM EDT


Toronto police have charged a TTC bus driver with assault, after an incident involving a dust-up with a passenger near Bayview and Lawrence.

Constable Wendy Drummond said the incident happened at about 10:45 a.m. when the driver and the passenger allegedly got into a verbal dispute.

An eighteen year-old student got onto the bus, she said, and got into an argument with the driver over the fare.

“During that dispute the driver is alleged to have assaulted the patron,” she said. “The assault actually caused one of the windows on the bus to break.”

The student received some injuries, but these were not life-threatening, she said.

The 30-year-old driver, Hagos Bereket, has been charged with assault. He will be released after processing and will appear in court at a later date to face the charges, Const. Drummond said.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said the video recording from the camera on the bus is being downloaded so it can be sent to the police.

Mr. Ross said he had no details of the incident, but when this kind of dispute takes place there is a protocol where TTC supervisors are called and the police are dispatched. “Operators ... are not to engage in physical altercations with customers,” he said.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle1534321/
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Old April 19th, 2010, 02:12 AM   #978
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Quote:
Louder crowd, a call for Giambrone's head at TTC town hall
Published 46 minutes ago


TTC Chair Adam Giambrone reflects as transit rider Mai Cheng, 72, demands his resignation at a town hall meeting Sunday. The meeting was the second of three sessions sponsored by the transit union to hear from riders.


Tess Kalinowski Transportation Reporter

Their numbers were similar to last week’s transit workers union town hall designed to foster better relations between frontline TTC workers and riders, but Sunday’s crowd of about 200 transit riders at a Scarborough high school were more vocal and more confrontational.

Although there were some questions about how the transit system works — or doesn’t work — riders were focused this week on the behaviour of transit workers rather than individual bus routes or personal issues with the TTC.

Those who attended the second in the series of union-organized meetings at Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute wanted to know why some drivers and collectors behave rudely, take breaks while passengers sit on the bus, apply some of the rules inconsistently and why the system is so dirty.

Several objected loudly to the format of the meeting.

“Throughout this meeting your answers have been taking over our questions,” said Ryan Endoh, who came with a prepared statement complaining about the “profane language” and “gross indifference” he had experienced on the system.

Questions and comments from the audience were confined to a minute, while panelists and TTC union head Bob Kinnear were taking four minutes to respond, he said.

Endoh told the auditorium about being verbally assaulted by a transit worker when he tried once to explain that he didn’t have his student pass because he had been ill and taken to the hospital.

For the second week, the panel of TTC drivers on the stage, were quick to apologize for the rude behaviour of some of their co-workers.

Nine out of 10 times when a passenger pleasantly explains they haven’t got the correct fare, driver Laverne Snagg said she lets the person on without argument.

She encouraged riders to note the bus number, the route and time and complain to the TTC when they encounter similar situations.

“We are reprimanded. It is normally addressed,” she said.

“Are drivers allowed extended breaks when there are people on board?” said Venesse Lewis, who compared rider frustration in such incidents to the bus arriving 20 minutes late.

She too was frustrated by the format of the two-hour meeting in which only people whose names were drawn from a box by the meeting moderator were allowed to speak.

“I wish more people were able to say things,” said Lewis.

York University graduate student Leia Toledo wanted to know if drivers have access to anger management.

They do but everybody has bad days, she was told.

After the meeting, Toledo said the exercise was valuable but riders have to demand a follow-up meeting with a report on what’s changed on the TTC.

Last week a TTC driver was charged following a dispute with a passenger over an allegedly unpaid fare.

While several speakers thanked the union for the opportunity to gather, one woman complained that it should have been organized by TTC management.

She drew applause for calling for the firing of TTC chair Adam Giambrone, who was sitting nearby.

Although he maintained a cordial approach to riders in the room, union president Bob Kinnear used the meeting to take some shots at TTC management, saying that an automated signalling system on the subway is responsible for large overtime bills.

A recent proposal to install platform edge doors that would prevent people from jumping or falling on the tracks is more about justifying the signal system, said Kinnear.

“Overtime rates have gone through the roof because trains are late. Operators are forced to go beyond their schedules every day,” he said, noting when that happens the worker gets double time.

“Maybe next time we’ll have to negotiate triple time,” he said.

TTC chief general manager Gary Webster, who was in the audience, later denied that the signalling system called speed control was responsible for climbing overtime.

“(Speed control) has been in operation on the Sheppard line. It’s not working properly. We have not put it in place on the other two lines. There’s no question we’ve struggled with the reliability of speed control and we’re not going to work it until we can get it to run properly,” said Webster.

But that has no bearing on the new automatic train control signalling system being installed on the Yonge line in the next four or five years, he said.

In the morning rush hour, the Yonge subway is at capacity, said Webster. “Automatic train control will deal with that,” and new subway trains coming later this year will also help.

Speed control, which cost about $15 million, was introduced on Sheppard in the last two years. Automatic train control is a $300 million system.

One rider complained about a driver’s failure to take a valid transfer when it was proffered.

“I don’t touch the transfers either,” said Jeff Gill, a driver on the union panel. “You see people coming up the steps with the transfer in their mouth. I don’t want that in my hand. There are too many communicable diseases.”

Some complained that not all drivers and collectors required seniors and students to show their passes.

“There are major inconsistencies out there with the enforcement of fares because it’s a judgement call (by individual transit workers),” said Kinnear.

When one rider complained that TTC patrons have to pay to park at stations, while GO passengers park for free, Kinnear suggested that the parking fees introduced last year are an attempt to penalize commuters from the 905 communities around Toronto.

“There needs to be a recognition that people are utilizing our service — the cost is absorbed solely by Torontonians,” he said.

A third town hall takes place May 2 in Etobicoke. Details and an opportunity to comment are available on the union’s website, wemovetoronto.ca.

Meantime, the TTC’s external panel of customer service experts is also hosting a series of meet-and-greet sessions in the subway system starting later this months in advance of the recommendations it will be delivering to improve customer satisfaction.

The outreach efforts by the union and the commission follow a rash of bad publicity on the system that started with the announcement of a fare hike late last year. That was followed by token hoarding and shortages and then widespread images of a sleeping subway collector and video of a driver taking an unauthorized break while riders cooled their heels on the bus.

“There’s a latent demand,” said Webster. “The public wants to talk to us. Management, union, we all need to get out and engage the public more.”
Quote:
Quick Fax

An electronic audience response system in the transit union town hall, allows organizers to almost instantly guage riders’ concerns. Here are some of the results from Sunday’s meeting.

• 49 per cent of the audience were regular TTC users, with an additional 11 per cent using the TTC to get to school

• 49 per cent of the audience at the Stephen Leacock Collegiate meeting took the TTC to get there

• 41 per cent of those at the meeting use two TTC vehicles and 23 per cent used three in their normal commute

• 66 per cent said they had used another transit system in the last couple of years and 54 per cent of those riders said the other system was better than the TTC

• 53 per cent of riders at th meeting said they have seen cases of unsatisfactory customer service by transit workers that was avoidable in the last two or three years on the TTC

• 65 per cent of the audience said their jobs require them to interact face-to-face with the public

• 37 per cent of the riders said drivers should always enforce fare payment and 57 per cent said enforcement should be based on individual circumstances

• 62 per cent said the operators should be allowed to decide whether to allow an adult to ride the TTC if they haven’t paid the correct fare

• 57 per cent said food and drink should be banned on the TTC
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/...town-hall?bn=1
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Old April 21st, 2010, 06:50 AM   #979
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While I have seen drivers taking unscheduled coffee breaks, there are also many very good drivers. Today, the driver of the bus I was on helped look for a lost wallet and assisted a tourist couple who didn't know how to go to their destination. I think the bigger concern is the overall (lack of) maintenance of stations. Frequently I have seen escalators down for months, drifting garbage causing fire on the tracks and leaking stations.

Quote:
TTC commuters can't stand rude, crude staff
Published On Mon Apr 19 2010

Robyn Doolittle Urban Affairs Bureau


A driver who refuses to move the bus because a baby is crying on board. A streetcar operator referred to by at least one rider as the “Blonde Dragon.” A toll collector who calls a customer “brain dead” when asked for change.

On Monday, the TTC released hundreds of customer complaints to the Star through a freedom of information request.

Page after page, the stories are similar: Drivers throwing tantrums when people don’t shuffle to the back fast enough. Collectors doing crosswords while ignoring customer questions. Drivers shouting at riders and swearing at passing cars.

It seems poor people skills, not delays or fare disputes, are the main concern for transit customers.

Riders say they are verbally abused and harassed by TTC staff on a daily basis. In the most extreme of allegations, some claim to have been victims of sexual advances and racism.

The vast majority of the more than 300 written complaints obtained by the Star — among more than 2,000 lodged last year — paint a picture of a transit system troubled by a culture of indifference and disdain towards customers.

“In my honest opinion, I believe those issues happen. I have no doubt,” said Steven O’Brien, the hotelier tasked with rescuing the TTC’s reputation through a recently created customer service advisory panel. “I’m not condoning the behaviour. (For some) it’s the culture. And you can’t change culture overnight.”

But the TTC is banking on his ability to help change it eventually.

In February, O’Brien was named chair of the new panel, an initiative meant to defuse mounting tensions between the public and its transit system.

Things came to a head in January, two months after the TTC announced a 25-cent fare hike, when a photo of a fare collector sleeping on the job went viral. “Yup, love how my TTC dollars R being spent” said the Twitpic caption. Next, a video surfaced of a bus driver who left late-night riders twiddling their thumbs while he took an unauthorized break at a coffee shop to use the washroom, then buy a drink.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of riders have shown up at union-sponsored town hall meetings to vent their frustrations. And by the end of June, O’Brien’s independent panel hopes to release a comprehensive customer relations evaluation.

The system needs it.

Last year, the TTC received roughly 2,000 written complaints through traditional mail, email, and online complaint forms. The Star requested a sample of these letters from February, July and October. The majority, about 250 of the 312 complaints we received, were submitted online.

The identities of the riders and employees were protected and, for privacy reasons, the TTC said it cannot disclose what action, if any, came of the individual grievances.

“This morning,” one letter began, “I boarded the #113 bus at Corvet ... At the next stop … another bus was parked with a flashing light. Riders who were on that bus got on to our bus all complaining that they were waiting 20 minutes because the driver refused to move the bus as a baby on board was crying ...

“Passengers continued to vent about the situation on the last bus. At the next stop our operator asked the passengers who came on at the last stop and were discussing the crying baby issue to please leave the bus … It seemed that no one had a right to condemn his colleague in his presence.”

In another letter, a rider writes: “On several occasions I have had the misfortune of boarding (the streetcar) only to realize that the driver for the first leg of my journey to work is this miserable woman . . . (I have) witnessed her verbally kick a paying passenger off this eastbound route . . . for calling her rude, which she IS consistently.”

On this January morning, the rider continues, “I became the target of her vileness … I always try to be courteous and exit via the rear doors (but) my position on the car this morning had me directly beside the front door, so I decided to exit via this way instead of pushing my way through other passengers. Well I guess this made her day because it allowed her the opportunity to yell … she yelled at the top of her lungs four times ... “EXIT AT THE REAR DOOOOORS!!! …

“I turned around and calmly asked her, “Why are you such a bitch to the passengers?” Her loud reply: BECAUSE I ENJOY IT!!!
... I do have to say that the majority of the TTC employees I encounter on a daily basis are courteous and a good number of them are downright friendly. What a delight! But not the Blonde Dragon!”

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said whenever there is identifiable information, such as specific incident times, route and bus numbers, or employee badge numbers, the complaints are investigated.

A range of responses is available, from a verbal warning to a note in a personnel file or even suspension.

“Just remember there are two sides to every story,” said Ross. “Certainly we don’t condone rudeness or curtness. Certainly our expectation is that employees greet customers with a smile, and thank them for their fare. (But remember), not every customer is polite, either.”
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/ttc/...de-crude-staff
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Old April 21st, 2010, 10:54 PM   #980
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Wow.. Staff problems?
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