Friday, October 16, 2009

VERITAS: FUMBLE - WRONG ROUTE FOR THE TTC


This week the TTC began enforcement of a stricter etiquette bylaw that includes a significant hike in the fines TTC special constables can hand out and a lengthened list of fineable offences. These include blocking doorways, lying down on seats and holding subway doors open as the chimes sound. The increased fines were approved earlier this year, followed by a grace period during which the TTC had planned to educate riders about the upcoming bylaw change. Media coverage of the new enforcement and feedback from the team here at Veritas this week has clearly shown very low awareness of the bylaw changes. As a result, public feedback in the online comments section of various articles have people screaming human rights violations. TTC spokesperson Kevin Carrington admitted this week that most TTC riders are not aware that their actions break transit laws, yet claimed ‘emphasis on educating riders first’. But there is no mention of the new bylaw anywhere on the TTC website’s homepage – a lost opportunity. A dig into the TTC website reveals a posting of the actual legal bylaw, which (at more than 3,000 words) is too much legalese to be an effective communications tool. Where the TTC took the wrong turn was in failing to provide the tangible, fact-based evidence that proves etiquette offences cost time and money. Cleaning seats, repairing jammed doorways and delaying service all come with a cost to riders. Earlier and ongoing communications about the costs and how they translate to fare hikes would have provided riders with a greater sense of responsibility and accountability, instead of leaving the door open to a debate on civility. There is applause for making inroads towards better bylaw enforcement, but Veritas calls a Fumble on this communications play for the lack of a strategic and proactive education campaign.

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