News / Toronto

Summer hot car hangover leads to drop in TTC customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction dropped 10 per cent from the same time last year, according to numbers in a new TTC report.

Mayor John Tory talks with Bianca Spence after riding a hot subway car in Sept. 2016.

Eduardo Lima/Metro / Metro Order this photo

Mayor John Tory talks with Bianca Spence after riding a hot subway car in Sept. 2016.

The TTC is back in the hot seat over hot cars this week, as new customer satisfaction numbers show a steep drop that officials admit is linked to broken air conditioners.

A new report from the TTC shows customer approval dropped 10 per cent from the second quarter of 2016 to the third. Only 70 per cent of customers were satisfied by the service on the red rocket over the summer, compared to 80 per cent in quarter two and 81 per cent the same time the year before.

The increase in dissatisfied riders “can be linked predominately to the hot subway car issue,” the report reads, which  “continued to be the major issue on Line 2 until the first few weeks of September.”

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the agency has been working steadily to fix the AC problem, and has hired four new mechanics to work on the repairs.

“It was uncomfortable for our customers, there was no question,” he told Metro.

In August, Mayor John Tory put the spotlight on the issue when he accepted commuter Bianca Spence’s challenge to ride the entirety of the Bloor-Danforth line in a sweaty car.

TTC and city officials have since vowed to make sure the issues are fixed by the time temperatures creep up again.

“We’re pretty confident by next summer we’ll have significantly reduced the incidence of hot cars,” said Green.

But Milan Gokhale, a member of the TTC Riders advocacy group, said that will be a tough task given the “continuous and chronic underfunding” of the TTC.

The agency recently agreed to a 2.6 budget cut imposed by the city as well as a 10-cent fare hike.

“You can’t expect better maintenance, better service and a better public transit system when you don’t provide the money,” Gokhale said.

The TTC is also struggling with slowing ridership growth. The agency originally budgeted for 553 million riders in 2016 but now expects to miss that mark by as much as 13 million.

If customer satisfaction continues to decline, Gokhale said it risks a “vicious cycle,” where riders abandon the TTC for the comfort of their cars, leading to lower funding for transit and increases in traffic congestion.

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