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Editorial: Still a long way to go

Given the litany of troubles recently belabouring the Toronto Transit Commission, one would anticipate a jump in rider complaints this year. Public outrage over fare hikes, crowding, frequent delays and messy facilities was heightened at the beginning of 2010 by a widely circulated photo of a ticket taker asleep on the job and video of a bus driver abandoning his passengers for a coffee break. As expected, customer complaints are up 15 per cent as of the end of October.

According to data released by the TTC last week, riders have made formal complaints 28,360 times, with delays and staff discourtesy the subject of by far the most of them. That’s up by almost 4,000 from the same period last year.

But the TTC’s record isn’t as grim as it might first appear. It is worth noting that ridership is up: the transit authority expects to carry 476 million riders this year, about 5 million more than in 2009. Having more people aboard generally means more complaints. And compliments are up, too, with 2,756 people formally registering praise this year — almost 700 more than in 2009.

What stands out in the data is that Canada’s largest transit system still has a long way to go when it comes to delivering an improved rider experience.

In fairness, TTC officials are working on improvements. They commissioned a blue-ribbon panel of experts to suggest changes, and they are in the process of the hiring of a new Chief Customer Service Officer to help implement the group’s 78 recommendations.

One would hope the increase in rider complaints this year spurs that process along. There is no room for complacency.




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