Bus route cuts are a customer service issue

There’s a marathon TTC meeting going on today with a zillion deputations. Concurrent with this, Councillor Josh Matlow has published an open letter to the TTC Chair and Commissioners, questioning their ridership numbers and asking for a more in-depth study before routes are cut in his ward.

I liked this part a lot:

I recognize the importance of being thoughtful about how we dedicate tax dollars and am acutely aware of the very real budget constraints we have as a City today. However, I am also cognizant that the TTC is a public service. These local bus routes are the only transportation option for many seniors, students and workers.

via Councillor Matlow’s letter to the TTC re: Proposed reductions to bus service – Josh Matlow, Toronto City Councillor for Ward 22, St. Paul’s.

As I write this, Councillor Peter Milczyn has taken to his Twitter account to lament the delays to this “server reallocation” because it means fewer routes will see improved service in the spring. He’s also accusing the left of being ideological in their opposition to this move.

I have two points in response to this.

First, to pretend this isn’t a service cut is crazy. The TTC does have capacity issues on other routes that necessitate service improvements, yes, but the responsible thing to do would be to find a way to fund those necessary service improvements without removing service in other places. If the 10-cent fare increase had been presented as necessary to do this — and not presented instead as some kind of weird political game of peekaboo designed to make the mayor look like a hero — I would support the move.

Second, if all you’re doing is reallocating service, take some time to do a proper study of both routes losing service and routes gaining service. Present that data to the people. Let them see where the trade-offs are. This government continually hammers on about the importance of “customer service,” so let’s speak that language: it is crappy customer service to take away someone’s bus route and not even tell them what they’re getting in return.

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