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GO Transit implements new customer charter

by Jonathan Jenkins
City Hall Bureau

The high cost and low odds of getting a seat drove Andrew Salmons off the GO train but the Milton project manager says he’s impressed with some of what he sees in the transit agency’s new customer charter.

“My initial reaction was that this is nice, they’re making a bunch of promises that they probably can’t back up,” Salmons, 25, said Monday. “But then I saw those promises are backed up by measureable metrics, and you can see the detail behind it.

“That impressed me.”

The Passenger Charter set out by GO commits the system to be on time, take safety seriously, keep customers informed, provide a comfortable experience and be quick and courteous. Performance on all five commitments is being monitored and reported through the GO Transit website.

Salmons, who has twice organized petitions to protest GO Transit fare hikes, said there’s still more he’d like to see from GO, though.

While it’s nice to be able to find out which routes and trains are the most crowded, there’s nothing from GO on how they plan to alleviate that crowding, he said.

There’s also nothing in the form of guarantees or rebates for the on-time promise, Salmons said.

But overall, the charter looks like a step in the right direction, he said.

“You pay a hefty price for the GO, and to not get a seat and to not know what time of day you won’t get a seat? If you’re paying a lot and standing for the whole ride, you kind of feel not the greatest,” he said.

To back up the new charter, all of GO’s staff have had a half-day course on it in the past six months to make sure they understand how to apply it to their specific job, Mary Proc, GO’s vice-president of customer service said.

“In the past, it took one person to say no and two people to say yes,” Proc said. “With our passenger charter, we’re trying to change that so that it takes one person to say yes and two people to say no.”

So far, GO is hitting its target for on-schedule performance and how many of its customers are satisfied with safety. But it’s falling slightly behind on guaranteeing 80% of rush hour passengers will get a seat (currently 79% do) and is well off the target of 48 hours for dealing with a customer’s concerns. The average time now is 65 hours.

Measuring how well GO keeps its 217,000 daily commuters informed is still awaiting the results of a survey being done in 2011.