The Toronto Transit Commission is trying to make amends for customer service that is not up to par and will be appointing some of its own customers to sit on a blue-ribbon panel that will review every aspect of how the agency conducts itself.
"We need to do better, and that's what we're talking about today," TTC chair Adam Giambrone said Wednesday.
"We owe our riders an apology for customer service that does not live up to expectations."
Giambrone said the panel is expected to produce a report by June 30 on how to raise the level of customer service. It will also draft a customer bill of rights.
Experts from the private sector, TTC officials, customers and public transit experts will sit on the panel, which will be named next week, he said.
The TTC also announced a number of measures designed to boost the level of customer service and improve relations which riders.
- Introducing an online trip planner next week that will allow riders to plan journeys using TTC facilities.
- Providing customer service training for staff.
- Reviewing staff uniforms.
- The installation of 50 more Metropass vending machines this year.
- Giving SMS capability to 800 streetcar stops by July, a feature that will allow customers to send a text message to the TTC to find out how much longer they have to wait for a ride.
- Installing LED screens that will tell riders when the next vehicle will arrive at "select" shelters and subway stations by July.
- Installing those LED screens at 350 bus and streetcar shelters by 2011.
In a release, the commission also said it "continues to work with the province of Ontario on a smart card and automatic fare payment system."
The TTC has had its share of negative publicity in recent months. The commission saw a big jump in complaints over the last year, thanks in part to issues like the fare hike, a shortage of tokens, and service complaints.
In 2009, the TTC received 31,000 complaints between Jan.1 and Nov. 30, up 15 per cent over 2008.
Most recently, a picture of a TTC collector who appeared to be sleeping on the job made the rounds on the internet last week, prompting widespread public outrage.