Amid a series of customer service improvements announced Oct 13, TTC chair Karen Stintz pledged that the transit system’s popular Request Stop service would be extended to all travelers riding on buses between 9pm and 5am.
The service, which was previously available only to women travelling alone, allows riders to ask bus drivers to stop the bus between stops to minimize the distance travellers must walk to their destinations. It was launched in the early 1990s as a way of improving rider safety.
Some groups have complained that the focus on women left other potentially vulnerable groups exposed to nighttime dangers, including the elderly, youths, the disabled, visible minorities and queer people. The focus on gender may also have marginalized trans people.
Chris Upfold, the TTC’s chief customer service officer, says that an queer group is one of many concerned groups and individuals who had requested the change. He declined to name the group.
“It’s clearly something we’ve been asked about quite a bit over the last few years,” Upfold says.
Upfold says the new initiative should have “no cost bearing” other than the need to replace signs on buses that specify that the program is for women only. He says those signs will be phased out over the next six months.
As the Request Stop service is available only on buses, not streetcars, this will primarily affect service outside of the downtown core, where bus stops are often farther apart.
Other customer service initiatives announced include the creation of a citizen-led customer liaison panel, the launch of regular town hall meetings, expanded hours at the TTC’s customer service centre and a “customer-focused” review of fares and ticketing.
Citizens can request to join the customer liaison panel by submitting a resumé and 250-word essay on their customer service insights to the TTC by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The first TTC town hall meeting will be held on Nov 24. Time and location are to be determined.
The fare and ticketing review will focus on reducing fares but is meant to review nuisance issues about fares, such as time limitations on transfers.
The customer service phone line will have its hours extended from the current 8am-5pm weekdays to 7am-10pm every day.