03/20/2013 12:14 EDT | Updated 05/20/2013 05:12 EDT

TTC to improve communication with customers, CEO says

The CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission says it has begun putting up screens to give commuters real-time information before they take their trip, in an effort to improve communication with customers.

Andy Byford's comments on CBC's Metro Morning come after a string of service delays plagued Monday's afternoon commute, prompting a rare apology via YouTube to TTC customers.

Lack of communication about the delays on Monday was a major source of frustration for TTC customers, something Byford said the commission was working to improve.

"We're introducing screens at a number of stations so that you've got real-time information before you commit to travel," he told host Matt Galloway.

"Because there's nothing more frustrating than putting your token in the slot and getting down to the platform and finding that the service is disrupted. So those screens are rolling out now. A good example is Davisville [station]. That screen has just gone live."

Byford was speaking from Bathurst Station on Wednesday morning, where he and other TTC officials were personally greeting commuters.

This comes two days after TTC passengers faced delays as long as 20 minutes at some stations and one train had its doors unexpectedly open while stationary in a tunnel during the peak of Monday's commute.

The delays prompted TTC spokesman Brad Ross to issue a Twitter message on Monday evening calling the problems "unacceptable". Byford on Tuesday issued a rare video apology, explaining how the doors opened as a result of human error and breaking down the string of fire alerts and passenger assistance alarms the compounded delays.

'Revolutionizing' management of stations

Monday's problematic commute also comes less than a month after the TTC announced a customer charter, a series of 30 promises aimed at improving service and keeping customers informed about service delays.

On Wednesday, Byford told CBC News that the control facility, which would send out delay information, was overwhelmed on Monday by all these incidents happening at the same time. However, he added that he would be meeting with all managers this morning to discuss how to improve communication with customers.

"We are going to have a discussion about it. And one of the things I do expect is within a very short period, train operators, train drivers, should make an announcement to reassure their customers. So I'm going to be reinforcing that point."

Byford also discussed how they were planning to "completely reinvigorate" the way its subway stations were managed by appointing "group station manager" to clusters of stations.

"So there are six groups that have been designated. People will ultimately have a team of people working for them, [and] be a hundred per cent accountable for what goes on in those stations [including] the provision of information, excellent customer service, managing the tenants, [and] managing staff performance," he said.

He also said once the TTC adopts Presto fare card system — which would require riders to purchase a fare card, and then load it with money before using — workers who sit in booths collecting fares and tokens will become "proactive, roving station supervisors" who will seek out customers who need help.

"Some of this will take a bit of time. But the group station managers is the first step in revolutionizing the way we run our stations," he said.