A Very Troubled TTC User

ttcI received this email yesterday, and thought I'd share it with you all. Maybe someone at the TTC can reply. I have no idea why this person thinks I'm "a type of transit consultant".

You seem to be a good person to inquire with as you are a type of transit consultant. 

Could you please tell me why here in TO we pay about 1.5 times more than other North American cities where their transit systems are better, cleaner and friendlier? The TTC breaks down daily, causes crazy long delays, there's a lack of communication to passengers and TTC employees while these delays occur, many TTC staff are rude, arrogant and will not pick passengers up, take too long breaks, the list goes on and on (as you would be well aware).

This past Sunday, August 21, 2011, I entered the subway about 9:10am (after it's opening at 9am) at St. Clair West station, to find a large amount of people waiting, and watched 2 subway trains enter the platform, not open it's doors, then move backwards where it came from (the number of the 1st subway train's last car was 5205, the 2nd subway train's last car was 5259). 

I went to the collector to inquire, was told that the TTC is not at fault (as usual) - that a member of the public is at fault, the issue started at 8am (not sure how that happened when subway only opens 9am and why would an hour's time not have been suffice to solve the issue?) - that while no clear announcements were made to explain to all the passengers waiting for a train that was not to come - so passengers were to take shuttle buses from St. Clair West station to Union station. 

As I saw no shuttle buses as the collector said, I took a St. Clair bus (not the usual streetcar) to St. Clair (and Yonge) subway, only to find another large crowd of passengers waiting for the train - that ended up taking 30 minutes to arrive, going southbound, with no shuttle buses offered on the Yonge line (while the subway there was affected as well as the University line).

A subway trip that normally should take 20 minutes (St. Clair West to Bloor/Yonge) ended up taking 1.25 hours! And that is not the worst TTC story I have, but the most recent.

With all the negative news about the TTC, it's over-powerful union, the politics surrounding the TTC, WHY is the service still so poor and the cost of it so high (compared to much better and larger systems in North America)?

I realize that  Canadians are passive but have a problem understanding why Torontonians put up with the TTC....why has there not been mass demonstrations/protests against the TTC or the city for allowing such a poor service to continue?

I hope to get a reply that answers these questions/concerns.

Thank you for your time.

"a very troubled TTC user"

Share this entry

Comments (19 - click here to join in!)


While I know you probably can't give her any type of answer, I have to agree with the way she explained what riding the TTC is like and why I usually don't take it for anything I can drive to.

August 23, 2011 @ 11:57 AM


This person sounds a bit whiny and clearly not too bright to contact you about these problems.

But the TTC does have issues.

August 23, 2011 @ 1:14 PM

Ryan G

My fave TTC experience in the last year was on a subway about 6pm one weeknight around Queen station.

An extremely intoxicated and disturbed individual got on the train and after the doors shut and the train started off, she started yelling angrily, and I quote:


Nice huh!

Strangely nobody panicked or reached for the yellow panic strip thingy, mostly I think because there was another yellow strip...a big circle of it right around her crotch.

"Oh she's pissed herself, there's NO WAY she'd have a gun!"

I did actually knock on the operator's little door to alert him, because although I didnt' think this person was a real threat (thus didn't hit the yellow emergency strip), I thought he should know.

His reaction?


August 23, 2011 @ 3:24 PM

Mike from Lowville

@Ryan G, shes probably a regular! I would NOT do that job for $40.00 an hour and all the benefits! F'in Joe Public!

August 23, 2011 @ 4:58 PM

Rick C in Oakville

To trot out an old joke, TTC for means Take The Car. So many bad experiences years ago that I don't even consider it for getting around downtown anymore. I find parking close enough and walk if I have to.

August 23, 2011 @ 6:51 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

The TTC has officially responded to this entry. Here's the email I received this morning.

Hi Mike,

I don’t want to turn your site into a customer response forum for the TTC but since you posted the note from our customer I thought I’d follow up.

Clearly, as the TTC customer that wrote to you experienced, we had problems on the morning of August 21st.  As I’m sure you know, and many of your readers know, the TTC carries out extensive maintenance and renewal work on our stations, trains and tracks overnight.   In the middle of the night there is a veritable army of people on the network to help ensure that we can keep our trains, streetcars and buses running day in and day out.  In fact it’s primarily for this reason why the subway starts later on Sunday mornings – we need those extra few hours underground to carry out that maintenance.  On the morning of the 21st a problem with our signalling system became apparent at about 8am and we immediately set about to rectify it.  By the time all was said and done we didn’t manage to rectify the situation until just before 10am – or about an hour after we were supposed to begin service.

As a result, trains were turned at St. Clair West and Union Stations and shuttle buses were utilized between the two stations.  Incidentally the planned closure of the Yonge line several weeks ago was to allow us to undertake work that would minimise incidents such as this one and to help us avoid having such large sections of the subway affected when things do go wrong.

Regarding the lack of announcements it’s  certainly our intention to keep passengers as informed as possible of specific situations and their impact on service.  It isn’t, however, something we always get right and that certainly sounds like this customers experience.  Sometimes, even more than the initial delay or problem, customers will judge us on how effectively we inform them of the delay and how well we explain their options.  Currently the same team in our Transit Control Centre that is responsible for getting trains turned and the incident managed are also responsible for making announcements and giving customer information.  We are currently reviewing how we manage and structure ourselves to ensure that we are absolutely focussed on keeping customers informed and striking the right balance with other responsibilities.  New digital information screens in concourses and the ability to “take control” of our screens at platform level will also be critical tools in achieving that goal.  We hope to have both of those initiatives delivered in the coming year.

Regarding fares the TTC is currently required to recover approximately 70% of its operating costs from our paying customers with the other 30% coming from the City of Toronto.  This is among the highest in the world and other cities transit customers paying a lower fare because more money comes from a variety of levels of government.   Most transit operators tend to only recover about 50-60% of their operating costs from fares (and some relatively small amounts from things like advertising and parking for example).  Having said that a flat fare of $2.50 for a token to travel anywhere the TTC serves is actually a relatively inexpensive fare when compared to other North American and European transit systems.

In short none of the above helps negate the fact that we failed this customer on Sunday to say nothing of the many other who may have experienced similar difficulties.  I hope that this customer, and any others, accepts my apology for any inconvenience caused and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond.

I closing I want to assure the readers of your site that we have a plan to improve our reliability and customer service and that we expect to be judged on how we deliver that plan in the coming months and years to once again make Toronto proud of the TTC.




Christopher Upfold
Chief Customer Service Officer
Toronto Transit Commission
1900 Yonge Street 
Toronto M4S 1Z2

August 24, 2011 @ 1:41 PM


$2.50 is very inexpensive compared to other cities and considering the size of the Toronto transit system. It costs $3.00 to ride the bus in Guelph...and that's only going one way, not the entire transit route.

August 24, 2011 @ 1:56 PM


Where can I pay 2.50 to get on the TTC. It's 3.00 bucks one way, learn about your company much?

August 24, 2011 @ 2:05 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Christopher Upfold seems to be referring to the fact you can buy 10 tickets for $25. I think that's fair to say it's a $2.50 ride.

August 24, 2011 @ 2:07 PM



He clearly stated that a TOKEN fare is $2.50. CASH FARE is $3.00...

August 24, 2011 @ 6:03 PM

Jim Beam

After finding out from a newly hired TTC bus driver what they get for a Shoe allowance, I can tell you why it costs a mint to ride the rocket.

August 26, 2011 @ 12:20 PM


TTC is for Totally Terrible Crap
Price goes up, service goes down, employees are above the law and overpaid, and to top it off they are backed up by the corrupted communists from unions, and they got the balls to call it "the better way"!!!

November 27, 2011 @ 12:07 PM


The TTC has demonstrated great transparency in this situation. Being originally from London, Ontario, using the TTC is a treat. It is a very efficient and well-run system with friendly and helpful staff.

London Transit, although slightly less expensive than the TTC, is fraught with problems. When I went to university there, there was one night in the middle of winter I had to wait 90 minutes for a bus to get home, a distance of one hour. Why? The one and only bus that came every 30 minutes was packed full already and couldn't pick up more passengers.

Many students from Toronto who go to university in London have commented that London's transit system is "far worse" than anything they've ever experienced on the TTC. Almost all the routes go downtown and don't follow the routes people take to get from one point to another, the buses run far too infrequently (leading to Toronto-level crowding), and there are too many unhelpful and rude drivers.

If you want unhelpful drivers though, go to Ottawa. I have used OC Transpo twice in my life, and both times I found the drivers very unhelpful.

December 23, 2011 @ 10:44 AM


The Toronto highway system isn't exactly reliable either. There is near-constant traffic congestion, accidents and bad weather. The TTC subway might be unreliable but you have never experienced how it can take as long as 2 hours to take 401 from 404 to 410 in rush hour when there is bad weather.

January 30, 2012 @ 12:07 AM

Luna Rey

Amazing how every single detail of what went on on that date is clearly recorded by your corporation mr. Christopher Upfold, Chief Customer Service Officer
For many of the victims of accidents inside your property, including the trains - you dont keep these nice clear records? Why? Whatever is reported to your supervisors as an accident, specially when there are so many cameras in the subway should be clearly kept. Instead your well paid government lawyers, make sure to crush your victims even more and change the version of events and make sure the memories of operators (jerks) are erased. Supervisors, not calling the ambulance but instead taking you themselves to the hospital? What is that, arent you breaking the laws to? Thanks for this chance, I needed to vent, my arm is still in a lot of pain and have physiotherapy to pay for.

March 26, 2013 @ 4:30 PM


These types of high costs and overcharges are typical of the Toronto area. We pay more than anywhere else in the world for similar services, and certainly more than anywhere else in north America. These institutions and companies simply don't fear the public. They feel omnipotent and think of us as serfs to be used for their gain. Until we boycott their services for a long enough period of time, they will never relent. Our best chance at making them listen, is to choose a solid week during the summer, and refuse to use the service. Drive, bike, walk and ignore the service. Share a ride, organize in advance, do whatever it takes. If they don't listen, extend it to two weeks the next summer, and so on. Drop all services except basic phone and text for a month. Use only basic cable for a month. Get em where it hurts! Trust me, they'll listen...

November 29, 2015 @ 8:53 AM


*Disclaimer: I swear like a sailor*

I for one am absolutely FED UP with the TTC. Coming from Montreal and paying 80$ for a monthly pass for a system that maybe breaks down once a week then moving to Toronto and paying 140$ a month for a system that is guaranteed to break down DAILY is nothing short of maddening. I've been late for and eventually even lost numerous jobs due to their inconsistent travel times. **I know you're probably thinking this sounds like an over-dramatization so let me just stop you there and tell you I work in the restaurant industry, owners will fire you over anything because they can. It's a scuzzbag industry**

I've talked to numerous bus drivers inquiring in a friendly manner about why the service is so bad, most of them shrug it off with a "yeah I know it sucks" attitude. One even went as far as to explain that all of the technology the TTC uses for communicating hasn't been updated since the seventies. He then pointed to an ancient looking rotary phone panel on his dashboard. I think the TTC just has a piss poor attitude towards customer service and to have a go to response of "it's your fault we fucked up" is a ridiculous way to run a business.

On top of that tax payer money barely goes to updating the system. The Commission would rather build a 25$ per trip luxury train which only stops downtown and at the airport than fund some much needed upgrades. Best part is, they openly admitted the luxury train was a bad idea as they can only fill 1/3 capacity on a good day, and essentially nobody uses it cause it's a waste of money.

Now they've upped the price to 3.25 claiming it needs this increase to cover costs of repair and staffing. Their number one response to raising the price is always "We don't get enough from the gov't". Fine.. but you have SO MUCH ad space, why charge the people you consistently fuck over on a daily basis MORE when you can just raise the price of advertising for large marketing agencies that clearly have a cushy pre-approved budget.. are you fucking kidding me??

Not to mention when the Pan Am games were in town the TTC had the audacity to post ads recommending users avoid taking transit at peak hours to allow more room for the city's guests.. Are you fucking kidding me? I'm on my way to work, I'm under paid and sleep deprived and you're telling me to not ride the transit system when I normally do cause I might get in some tourists personal space? Please, Fuck yourself with a cheese grater..

Anyways to make a long rant short, the real part that stumps me is how everyone somehow seems to be fine with it. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills because I'm the only one getting bent out of shape over a system that is clearly shitting the bed shamelessly. All I'm saying is in the working world, if you don't perform your job effectively then you don't get paid, so why should the TTC be continued to run it's shockingly sub par service and inflate pricing and capitalize of ad revenue??

February 21, 2016 @ 12:37 PM


The TTC is the worst service in this city. Last night around 12:30 am I was going westbound to Old Mill station. When the conductor got on the speaker to say "this train is going out of service because of a power outage at one of the other stations" & would be turning back this was a Christie station. So me & thousands of other people got of at Christie & either walked to their destination or waited for a shuttle bus. I walked in the hope of finding a ATM to pay for a taxi. I found a ATM & a taxi which took me to Old Mill station. I was lucky the taxi only cost me $15. Last week the same thing happened only this time it was a suicide jumper at Ossington station. And again I had to take a taxi. When is the TTC or the that Andy going to pay me back for the money I spent on taxis.

August 6, 2017 @ 12:04 PM



I'm far from an apologist, but I'm not seeing why a power outage and jumper are the fault of the TTC & Andy Byford.

August 6, 2017 @ 4:40 PM

Leave a comment

Only 19 comments? C'mon, we can do better... Leave a comment above and let's keep this conversation going!

« Nick Ashford, Dead at 70 Remembering John McDonald and Aaron Hill »