Monday, October 26, 2015

Case Study: Toronto Transit Commission

Case Study Summary

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was formed in 1921 to take over privately operated transit services in the city of Toronto. It became the third largest used urban mass transit system in North America. It covered 772 square km and commuted 460 million passengers in 2010. It has 152 routes with 69 interchange subway. Its asset includes 700 subway cars, 247 streetcars and 1800 buses and having a flat fare structure. It has a motto of serving to the citizen with work safe- Home safe.

From the year 2009 it was facing deficits in revenue, budget cuts and was expecting budget cuts in the upcoming year with deficit rising substantially which puts a pressure on the staff strength, maintenance of the fleet of services and customer satisfaction. TTC was gearing itself to overcome these issues and serve the citizen with full satisfaction.

In 2009 TTC started expiring several customer dissatisfaction crisis and revenue issues. The image below demonstrates a timeline of the events. First in January 2009 the price of an adult token would be raised from $2.25 to $2.50, and student and seniors fares were going up by 15%. This issue alone raised 32,000 complaints between January 1 and November 30, 2009.

A year after TTC also faced a bad image problem, as a customer published on social media a photograph of a sleeping fare collector. The image went viral, and it was even covered by the local news. After this incident, TTC decided to form a customer service advisory panel that would present a report on how to better service its customers. In February 2010 customers posted online more pictures and videos of TTC employees being completely unprofessional. In this case was a driver that took a seven-minute break in the middle of the route while passengers were in the bus. This video also went vireo and was picked up by the media.

In response to the issue Local 113 president, Kinnear, blamed management and members of the 113 created a FB page to counterattack passengers. The page, “Toronto Transit Operators Against Public Harassment”, encouraged TTC employees to document examples of rider misbehavior. Some of the cases documented were grafting and littering.

In March 2010 another scandal happened, a bus driver had to be suspended for driving under the influence of alcohol. This same month Queens Park announced the end of the Ontario Bus Replacement Program, which had historically paid for a third of the cost of purchasing new buses.

By April 2010 TTC officially decided to place 50 supervisors in customer-facing roles immediately. However, in July their image was even more tarnished when some of the stations were qualified as “unkempt and neglected”. In August CSAP released 78 recommendations that should be followed for the improvement of TTC’s customer service. These included hiring additional personnel, a customer service plan, improved technology and having oversight by non-TTC stakeholders.

The last year covered in the case study is 2011, when TTC faced more funding problems, as the infrastructure needed a renewal. They did manage to get new and faster subway cars (the Rockets) in May 2011. But increases in fuel price, more demand for the service, and citywide budget cuts led TTC to the elimination of 311 positions in total. Finally, in June 23, 2011 riders formed “TTC Riders”, an advocacy group claiming to represent TTC transit riders, and their main goal was to oppose to any new fare hikes as well as any cuts to the TTC services.

Customer vs. TTC - The expectation Gap

What did TTC do and how are they doing now?

Since 2011 TTC has grown and become very active in social media. As it right now they have Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which they use to communicate any issues, such as delays or changes in their routes, to their customers. They even developed a different Twitter page dedicated to customer service. TTC actions in social media can be understood as open two-way communication since they actively response to customer comments on their Facebook page. However, the use Twitter more as one-way communication channel, since their post are just informing the customers of different issues.

TCC also implemented other initiatives to be more open and communicative with its passengers. For example, they have a quarterly panel in which customers have the opportunity to speak with TTC managers in different subway stations. Some other information platforms and apps they are employing are:
·       Information Websites
·       Mobile Websites (smarter to make it responsive for all devices)
·       Plan your trips, choose from what kind of vehicle you prefer (Bus or train)
·       Next arriving trains (for stops or specific routes)
·       Newsletter / Text
·       Transit Apps
·       Departure times provided by GPS

 Their goal throughout time is to transform the culture inside to TTC into one that is more driven by customer service. Its vision and objectives are the following: Vision: “A high quality, accessible network that understands what our customers need and delivers what matters most to them.” Objectives:
1.    Safety
2.     Customers
3.     People (Teamwork / Pride in a Job)
4.     Assets (effective Management of assets that deliver reliable service)
5.     Growth (affordable expansion Program matches capacity of demand)
6.     Financial Sustainability (transparent business)
7.     Reputation (well regarded by stakeholders and peers, employees to be proud)

Customers will always have a high expectations concerning public organizations that are subsidized by the government and by their taxes. Hence, it is very difficult to meet high customers demands with regards to their limited resources. Social Media is a way to interact with the stakeholders in a better way in order to fill the expectation gap and communicate the effort and positive aspects of the service the TTC is providing. Rather than being very defensive about complaints the TTC has to communicate that they are trying to meet customer demands. Regarding their current initiatives and social media activities, the TTC has taken an important step towards a better relationship with their stakeholders. The TTC has been trying to be transparent, provide a better corporate culture and community and also to respond to their customers by various actions (e.g. Twitter and Facebook, placing 50 supervisor in customer-facing roles to gain better customer insight, Meet the Manager for more transparency). It is crucial to create a sense of community concerning all stakeholders resulting in every stakeholder engaging in measures for better travel operations.



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