There was a “medical emergency at track level” today. As with any subway delay, the affected part of the city absolutely implodes with panic. On the bright side, it gave me an unexpected amount of time to reflect on the soured relations between the TTC and the public.
On the one hand, there is the seemingly vicious infighting between the union and management at the TTC. The relationship is so poisoned at this point that I’m not really sure how they keep the system running at all. The union even fights against making sure the drivers are sober, somehow trying to sell the public on the claim that their right to privacy trumps our right to safety. It’s interesting that they don’t even bother with arguments against the effectiveness of the methods or challenge their reliability in improving public safety. It’s straight to “I don’t want to and you can’t make me” like a petulant child being asked to clean their room before guests arrive.
Of course, management is hardly free of blame here. You don’t get to have a union like that without causing some serious damage first. Not only that but any poor decision they make reflects itself in how their employees are treated by the public. If someone is displeased with a fare raise, it’s the driver that gets yelled at. A lot of the time they know as little about a delay as we do. Where is management to provide them with the information they need to perform their job?
Government has also been instrumental in the steady decline of our national flagship public transit system. No other system in North America gets less financial support from the government, and when they do, it’s in random cash infusions rather than predictable payments which makes for long term planning completely impossible. Not since Mike Harris have the TTC had a reliable voice in government keeping the needs of Torontonians in mind. This is very VERY slowly changing, but these improvements are coming years too late and the ensuing disruptions have already soured many people on using the system.
Finally, it’s important to also look at ourselves. I completely agree that we deserve a better system than what the TTC has to offer. We deserve better and more reliable train and bus service. We deserve a system that delivers on promises of buses every 10 minutes or trains every 3 minutes. We can’t improve those numbers until we learn how to at least meet them. We deserve staff that cares about our needs rather than dismissing concerns over safety, punctuality, and professionalism as nitpicking.
At the same time, we also play a huge role in all of these issues. I can’t even count the number of people who complain about how dirty the system is. Who do you think is making it dirty? Santa isn’t going around tossing Tim’s cups on the floor. Any place is only as clean as the users of it are. You want it cleaner? Stop making it filthy in the first place.
You have an issue with buses being on time? Don’t bang on the bus walls demanding to get on once the bus has left. Don’t spent 10 minutes arguing with the bus driver that they should let you on even though you’re short on the fare. Don’t fight them on providing student/Senior IDs. Don’t rush subway doors and force them open as they’re closing. Move quickly and all the way to the back and away from the doors to make sure as many people as possible can get to where they need to go as efficiently as possible.
We all have to take stock of how we’ve contributed to the current state of affairs if we have any hope of getting the world class service I know the TTC is capable of providing.