The TTC is preparing to launch a passenger bill of rights this year. What should we expect from it? Here’s a few suggestions from other major cities.
In just over a month, Andy Byford will be marking—if not quite full-out celebrating—his first year as CEO of the TTC. Since heralding a much-lauded modernization plan shortly after his start last March, Toronto’s new public transit boss has led the charge on a number of changes, from refurbished station bathrooms to a daily scorecard that measures timely service on subway, bus and streetcar lines.
Next on the docket? A customer charter, akin to a passenger bill of rights. Last November, Byford told the National Post the charter will spell out the organization’s goals in areas like reliability and punctuality, and outline specific promises the TTC will make to its riders.
The TTC expects to unveil the document within the first quarter of this year—but until then, we’ll seek inspiration elsewhere. We checked out how other public transit providers around the world have pledged better service to their passengers, and highlighted five key promises we hope will surface in the TTC’s forthcoming project.
Service name: TransLink
Key pledge to customers: Greater accessibility
On any given day, TransLink moves an average of 820,000 customers via bus, ferry, commuter train and rapid transit (better known as the SkyTrain) through the Metro Vancouver area. Adopted in late 2009, TransLink’s customer charter includes a pledge to offer “a service that everyone can use.” According to the document, their entire fleet is 100 per cent wheelchair accessible, and they’re working to increase the number of accessible bus stops across the area they service. This time last year, more than 60 per cent of bus stops used by TransLink were deemed accessible and they’re continuing to upgrade some of the SkyTrain’s oldest stations to further expand accessibility.
Service name: CityRail
Key pledge to customers: Less crowding
Sydney’s CityRail commuter trains make nearly one million trips every weekday, covering a distance of more than 115,000 km. Owned and operated by RailCorp, a state government agency, CityRail launched its first customer charter in 2008 and delivered an updated version in 2011 to include an additional 25 commitments to its riders. Several of these were dedicated to dealing with increased demand, as CityRail explicitly promised to replace six-car trains with eight-car trains on certain lines and install extra ticket gates at two of their busiest stations. According to a late 2011 quarterly report, they delivered on all of those promises in December of that year.
Service name: London Underground
Key pledge to customers: Refunds for delayed or cancelled trains
While Transport for London’s Conditions of Carriage details general “rights and duties” for all passengers of London’s Overground, buses and legendary Tube (which turns 150 years old this year), it’s the separate London Underground Customer Charter refund form that is most noteworthy. Customers can claim a refund on their Tube ticket if they experience a delay of more than 15 minutes—if that delay is within the control of the Underground, and not a result of a security concern or bad weather. Transport for London reportedly pays out nearly £1 million in refunds every year, and more than 400,000 passengers benefitted from the gesture in 2011.
Service name: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Key pledge to customers: Transparent performance measures
The “T” oversees most subway, bus, commuter rail and ferry transport in the greater Boston area and represents the fifth-largest mass transit system in the U.S.—average weekday ridership last November was 1.33 million. The MBTA’s customer bill of rights is composed of five main points, which includes the goal of punctual and reliable service. Every month, the organization releases a detailed scorecard illustrating not only on-time performance, but also the average distance vehicles travel between breakdowns, elevator and escalator uptime and the impact of subway track conditions on travel time.
Service name: GO Transit
Key pledge to customers: Better customer assistance
Between its bus and train lines, GO Transit serves nearly 263,000 southern Ontario passengers on a typical weekday, the large majority of whom pass through Union Station. Launched in November 2010, GO’s passenger charter also revolves around five key areas, one of which is a very simple “helpfulness.” Compared to other transit organizations, their goals are lofty. For example, they’ve pledged to reduce the average time to address customer concerns to two days, while other services are still aiming for five. In December 2012, GO beat their goal of answering 80 per cent of customer phone calls within 20 seconds, a target they’ve surpassed by a greater margin every year.
Which of these and other passenger rights should the TTC focus on adopting with their charter? Let us know in the comments section below.