Allow people to comment, show voice was heard
We riders can spend time complaining about the state of transit in greater Toronto, or we can help fix it.
Transit officials are hearing a lot of complaints lately —about crowding, reliability and communicating with customers. However, some of the criticism is constructive, not negative.
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Instead of just defending themselves from complaints, transit decision-makers need to cultivate friends and allies. In order for the TTC, GO Transit and other GTA agencies to secure the necessary funding to greatly expand our bus, light rail and train network — staff and political representatives must connect with their customers in a genuine two-way dialogue.
We need to see our transit officials on the front lines. That could mean hearing from the directors of the GO Transit board about their recent experiences using the train network or having newly appointed members of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority invite the media for long-distance rides on local buses during rush hour.
Let everyday commuters know that you understand the current situation first-hand. Then consult with riders in an ongoing, meaningful way.
This might take more resources; both time and money and a new openness to public input in decision-making.
Every agency from Durham Region to Hamilton needs to open up dialogue, whether in the form of advisory committees or sophisticated methods of public input that take advantage of new technology. Allow people to comment on transit service and new projects, and show that their input was heeded.
That’s why it was so inspiring to recently witness top TTC officials join a hundred of their customers last Sunday.
They had a chance to meet a group of people who simply, fervently want to help improve the system. Initially inspired by online discussions about making the TTC’s website more customer-friendly, this “Toronto Transit Camp” was organized in just three weeks by a team of volunteers.
Artists, computer programmers and other riders spent a whole day exchanging ideas and brainstorming on how to improve the “total customer experience” on the TTC. The fact that transit staff and elected commissioners showed up on a Sunday is a good sign — and already there are indications that some suggestions will result in real changes that riders can see.
In York Region, citizens have a chance to view — and hopefully offer constructive criticism — on the transit system’s next phase of rapid transit bus lanes, set to begin construction next year.
A series of public information sessions begins tonight.
Click on “rapid” at www.vivayork.com.