Thursday, February 10, 2011

What To Do With the TTC

TTC Problems Bigger Than All Of Us
So Why Isn't Management Being Looked At?

In my daily life, I continue to be frustrated by some TTC front line staff. Streetcar drivers that I still see chatting on cell phones while driving, ignoring and being rude to riders, constant unpredictable delays and so on. Like 95% of Toronto, I am mad at what I have to put up with just to get around.

At my corner of the world, which includes the streetcar 'short turn' turnaround at the intersections of College Street, Dundas West and Lansdowne, we have a popular and busy Tim Horton's that is frequented by a lot of TTC and Police people. So, even when I am having a coffee break, I hear the TTC union people complaining about passenger behaviours or how they themselves are treated by TTC management. In fairness, the 'War on the TTC'-'War on the Riders' does go both ways.

Laughably - if it wasn't so important - the TTC management's response to indisputable caellphone snaps of bad behaviour and safety hazards by their staff, is to chastize the PUBLIC warning them not to escalate things.... Well, things DO need escalating, but perhaps not in that manner, to get something done! The TTC has long been deaf to the idea of customer service, since it is run by engineers and die-hard unionists.

Look at most any media and you will find stories ferreted out by journalists on Toronto's pet TTC peeve, like these:  Screaming TTC Worker Shoved Me, TTC Finally Finds a Shovel to Clear Sidewalk, TTC Drivers Kick Courtesy to the Curb,. On Twitter, @TTCChair Karen Stintz invites public input at #TTC, which I think is just to make it look like they are listening.

There are glaring hints that the decades ago much praised TTC safety record has crumbled.  (I posted about this last December and passed it on to TTC Chair Karen Stintz: Link but I still see almost no one concerned with the disasterous TTC safety record. )

It feels like almost daily we hear of TTC vehicle crashes, poedestrians and riders being injured and even killed. Yet, new (a rookie once again) TTC Chair Karen Stintz' priorities are the easy fix perceptual ones: Cleanliness. So, if you get hurt or injured or killed by the TTC, at least they will have clean underwear?

A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Witnesses   (Eye Weekly) "Is an army of camera-wielding citizen vigilantes really our best public service monitor?...There’s a problem with this system, though, and it’s not just the legit and often-voiced worry that we’re heading towards some sort of upside-down-Orwell surveillance society. It’s that a fix-by-pics process highlights specific individual cases and deals with them in very public fashion, which might lead to the impression that the persistent larger problems they represent are being dealt with. Firing texting drivers and charging an aggressive cop gives us something concrete to grasp. But is it really possible that the persistent and widespread dissatisfaction with the behaviour of drivers on the TTC comes down to a sick sleeper and a trio of texters? Or that the whole of the police department’s misconduct during the G20 can be laid at the feet of a single officer swinging for the fences?....No. The problems are management-scale, and system-wide. We should be wary of photo spreads detailing how we’ve found the bad apples, lest they distract us from the truth that the bushel basket itself is slowly rotting away."
.... I totally agree. Let's not just lynch a few rule-breakers at the lower levels. Let's go after the bosses who permit this to happen.

I think it is a good thing that the TTC Stalls 103 New Hires to Cut Costs. TTC chair Karen Stintz said “If we can find efficiencies in other areas then we can redeploy those resources and we don’t have to hire externally,”

Great! Then how about going after MANAGEMENT with the same fervour? Kill the ridiculous  subway Station Masters idea and hiring a special customer service guru for example. Those are very highly paid positions and in my view duplicate what the whole organization should be doing already. Instead of bringing in people with a customer service focus on the management/supervisory side - get rid of those already there who have not been showing that focus for years, and likely will not change their style.

The TTC is like an old, hard to steer oil tanker with a current top heavy management crew who will still try to do things in the old ways. After all, they are used to bizarre changes in political masters, most of whom have been transit rookies who had to be taught by them. Adam Giambrone even spent years jetting around the world on the taxpayer dime to learn his job from other systems, yet is the TTC any better for his extended training period? Why doesn't Toronto Council consider making the TTC Chair position a separate, elected position that requires the appropriate skill set and experience going into the job, much like how the USA electes Sheriff or judges?

(From my election campaign platform when I ran for local ward18 City Councillor: SEPARATE ELECTED TTC CHAIR: Given the enormous portfolio of this position, both in terms of budget and the vision expected, we should have a separate elected position for the TTC CHAIR, which requires skills and experience going into the job, similar to how the USA electes Sherriff or Judge positions. No more handing out plum appointments to rookies. We cannot afford this)

In addition, Mayor Rob Ford can seem to talk tough and make promises not based on facts, but there are contracts, unions, arbitrators and years of union experience ready to fight off the boastful challenges.

Unless someone goes after MANAGEMENT, the core of the TTC will continue to rot as the old guard comforts themselves with the phrase "This too shall pass"