Learning From Philadelphia's Transit System Improvements

The city of Toronto's public transit system has been plagued by dysfunctional service and rider complaints. Officials are looking to Philadelphia for lessons on improving their troubled system.
March 8, 2010, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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With sleeping subway collectors and thousands of complaints about customer service, Toronto's public transit system is having major issues with its reputation. Philadelphia's transit system had its own reputation issue a few years back, but managed to find some solutions.

"Toronto officials, plagued with similar complaints, have been in touch with Philadelphia in their search for solutions, said Gary Webster, the TTC's chief general manager.

To transform SEPTA's culture, Casey named a general manager of customer service, Kim Heinle, who has a background in the hospitality industry. They introduced weekly classes in customer service for transit workers.

The system still gets just as many complaints – and Casey admits it's hard to gauge the success of that program. But on the other side of the equation, in two years, customer commendations have doubled."

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Published on Friday, March 5, 2010 in The Toronto Star
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