Dirty washrooms, drivers who take breaks while riders cool their heels, bunching on bus routes and drivers who fail to open the door at some stops — the complaints about TTC service weren’t new.

But yesterday was the first time the TTC’s customer service advisory panel heard them face-to-face with riders.

Seven panelists, including hotelier Steve O’Brien, who chairs the volunteer committee, went to the Bloor subway station to solicit comments and ideas from riders who haven’t forgotten the token hoarding and pictures of a sleeping subway collector that battered the TTC’s reputation in recent months.

After more than two months of learning about TTC operations, O’Brien said it’s clear that communication is the biggest issue in improving the transit experience.

“Some of the systems the TTC has to communicate with are somewhat antiquated, and I know the TTC is working on upgrading systems. But it’s communication all the way around, and if you want to change the culture you’ve got to improve the communication,” he told reporters.

Many lunch-hour riders rushing to catch trains grabbed cards or chatted briefly with the panelists, who are expected to report in June.

Some riders had constructive ideas. One suggested the TTC put signs on buses when they’re too full to carry more passengers, so those who are bypassed understand.

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