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A TTC fare collector is apparently caught napping at McCowan station on Tuesday. ((Jason Wieler) )

A hastily snapped picture of a TTC fare collector apparently sleeping on the job, his jaw hanging open, will become the focus of an internal investigation by the Toronto transit authority.

Toronto resident Jason Wieler took the photo of the fare collector at McCowan station just before 10 p.m. on Jan. 9, but said it took him a while to get around to posting it on Twitpic. 

The caption Wieler wrote for the photo said, "Yup, love how my TTC dollars R being spent."

"I actually was coming home," Wieler told the website Torontoist, "and, lo and behold, I got off the train … and there's this dude just conked out. And I said, 'You gotta be kidding me.' I thought I was on Candid Camera or something like that. So I snapped a pic [and] got a few laughs out of it."

When Wieler, who describes himself as an interactive designer and illustrator, posted the photo on Twitpic, it caused a stir. 

Wieler said he got the impression the collector had been asleep for a while. "When you look at the photo, his mouth was wide open. You only get that way when you're totally conked out, right?"

The TTC said Friday it is taking the incident seriously, but if employees are fatigued "they should be at home."

"On this particular matter we will conduct an inquiry internally and determine what appropriate action needs to be taken," said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

For his part, Wieler told the Torontoist he hopes the photograph doesn't cost the TTC employee his job.

"I didn't want to get the dude in trouble … that wasn't my intent of course. I know that this guy's probably got a mortgage and kids. No one wants to take away someone else's work."

The union that represents the employee took issue with the picture taker and the general public. 

"It is very discouraging that the picture taker and, apparently, other customers, made no attempt to determine if there was anything wrong with this TTC employee. A simple knock on the glass might have determined if the collector was, in fact, asleep, or whether he was unconscious as a result of some medical problem. The reports that passengers were laughing at him as they passed by the booth makes this even more disturbing," said union president Bob Kinnear in a statement.

TTC reviews service

The TTC said recently it was hiring an external consultant to review its customer service record.

TTC chair Adam Giambrone acknowledged on Wednesday that the TTC faces "challenges" when it comes to interacting with riders.

In 2009, the transit commission received 31,000 complaints between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, up 15 per cent over 2008.

The most common complaints were rude TTC operators, fare increases and bus and streetcar delays.

"Complaints have also been received regarding the attitude and behaviour of some employees that are inconsistent with the expectations we all have, particularly in a service-oriented industry such as transit," said TTC general manager Gary Webster.

Corrections

  • The photo was taken on Jan. 9, not Jan. 19 as previously reported.
    Oct 16, 2013 10:55 PM ET