The TTC is investigating one of its employees after a passenger complained that a bus driver shouted at her and questioned the parentage of her child.
Jodi Christie says that when she was boarding the 199 Finch bus on Thursday morning at McCowan, she asked the driver to lower the bus's ramp so she could get her infant son's stroller onto the vehicle.
According to Christie, the driver obliged and deployed the ramp, a process that took about a minute. But once she and her son got on, the TTC employee allegedly told her, "Y'know, you should really get a smaller stroller that you can manage to lift onto the bus so that I don't have to mess around with this stupid bullshit at 6:30 in the morning."
Christie says she was shocked but continued towards the back of the bus. As she did so, she claims the driver shouted, "Where's his dad? He should be helping you. If he even has a father."
Furious, Christie says she asked for the operator's name, but he refused. When she told him she would file a complaint against him, he allegedly said, "Good. Go ahead."
"I was kind of humiliated because there were other people on the bus who heard the comment he made," says Christie, who works in television as a digital content manager. "Also, I was really angry and I think that if I hadn't had my son with me I would have said something. There were a million things that I felt like saying, but I didn't' want to get into it [with my baby there].
"I really wanted to get off the bus at that moment. I just wanted that bus ride to be over, basically."
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross says that the commission is reviewing Christie's complaint, and taking it seriously.
"When comments are alleged to have been made of this nature, that is very concerning because it shows a lack of respect for a member of the public and one of our customers," he says.
Although the operator refused to divulge his name (TTC employees are only obliged to give customers an employee number), Ross doesn't anticipate any problems locating him by using the route number and time of the incident.
Once he's found, commission management will interview him to get his account of what happened, and will check his record to see if there have been previous complaints filed against him. If the commission determines discipline is warranted, the driver could face penalties ranging from a verbal warning to dismissal.
Christie says that all she wants is for the driver to say he's sorry.
"I would just like an apology, really," she says. "Beyond that I'm not too concerned about what happens to him. I hope he thinks twice before he treats somebody else like that."
Christie says the TTC told her they will report back to her within 15 business days.
But no matter what becomes of the driver, Christie's story is another setback for a transit commission that has worked hard to overhaul its dismal public image in recent months. Enhancing customer satisfaction has been TTC CEO Andy Byford's number one priority since he joined the organization last fall.
"We are working very hard at excellence in customer service. Whenever we fail to live up to that, then we have failed as a transit operator," says Ross.
"It is frustrating, but at the same time I think it's important to also have some perspective. That is, there are 12,000 people who work at the TTC, and the vast majority of them do an excellent job every day."
The TTC receives roughly 40,000 customer complaints a year, but Ross says positive comments from passengers are on the rise.