The TTC hasn’t had it easy – public relations wise – over the last few weeks. Even before the the sleeping TTC collector and the break-taking bus driver, they had to contend with the realization there were 31,000 complaints in 2009, a 15% increase over 2008. In response to this spike in general dissatisfaction, the TTC has recruited a customer service panel with private sector advisors in other sectors such as the hotel industry to give them tips on how to improve. This panel is still underway so it remains to be seen exactly how its recommendations will be rolled out.
Many of us are familiar with the frustration involved in using public transit everyday, so few of us are surprised to hear about the high number of complaints. But while most of these are legitimate, we should remember that where there are complaints about service on the TTC, there are compliments. And those compliments are voiced much less often.
So this blog post is about the memorable exceptions. Everyone has at least one or two feel good stories about riding the TTC. Here are a few of mine.
This was years ago. I lived by Bathurst & Lakeshore and took the 511 Bathurst Streetcar on a daily basis. Long before the automated stop announcements were in place, there was one driver who had this route who would call out the names of each stop, as I believe they were required to do. But he had a little twist: he would say the names of the stops– BACKWARDS. That’s right SDRAWKCAB.
So we would pass Tecumseth – but it would be Htesmucet. I think it was this same driver who would announce his own “guide to the city” as we went along. “Toronto Western Hospital is next, Toronto Western Hospital. Let’s hope you don’t have to end up there.”
The Irresistible Pout
While still living lakeside, I was once attempting to catch a southbound streetcar at the corner of College and Spadina. Here the streetcar stop is located on the south side of the intersection. I was waiting at the south east corner of the street and saw the streetcar as it rushed past me. I pouted in the streetcar driver’s general direction, making a little puppy dog face. I was going to miss my ride because the traffic light looked as though it would not change in time for me to cross safely and run to the stop. Surprisingly, the driver happened to catch my sad little face as he passed the intersection and waited for me a whole minute until I could safely cross and run to meet it. When I got on, I thanked him. He replied: “But of course. Who could resist such a pout?”