Last night the Toronto Transit Commission appointed a new Advisory Panel. This panel is made up of private citizens from all over Toronto. One of my favourite people was appointed to this panel. Julie Tyios. She is PERFECT for this role. We’ve not only rode together on the TTC but she also helped me get in touch with the TTC’s @bradTTC once to report a driver assault. This morning I got the chance to ask Julie some questions in between an interview with CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and a video shoot. Here is that interview. I hope you enjoy.
You got your new role as a result of a tweet. What do you think resonated with the TTC from your 140 character tweet?
I think mentioning my background in communications and social media really helped. This panel is all about gathering feedback from the public in a very transparent process, and I’m very active on Twitter and in the Toronto community in general. I’m eager to hear what people have to say and respond to their feedback. I also own an online marketing company, Red Juice Media, and I’m really focused on making great things happen with my company and elsewhere. I’m looking forward to achieving some great things with this panel.
What are you most excited about this new role for you with the TTC?
I’m really looking forward to hearing from other TTC riders about how we can make this system work for everyone. Right now, there’s a big focus on customer service and how we can improve that experience. I’ve heard things from people on Twitter and elsewhere about issues they’ve had with customer service, and I’d really like to put some solid recommendations forward on how the TTC might improve in that area.
How important are online tools such as Twitter to communication between the TTC and the riders?
I think they’re important, no doubt about that. Certainly not every TTC rider is on Twitter, but there is an audience there and they are using the network to communicate. I was at an event the other night where Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) was speaking, and I think he sums it up best – Social media is happening, people are using it, and it’s up to you whether or not you want to engage your audience on it. Citizens, TTC riders and employees are on this channel, and it’s another avenue for the TTC for reach out, listen, and respond to the people who use public transit.
The media has recently reported on various customer service issues. What are your thoughts on this?
Truthfully, I’ve never had a problem with customer service on the TTC – When I board a streetcar, I greet the driver with a smile and thank them when they give me a transfer. I realize their job is a tough one, and I can see how a little courtesy can really go a long way. I believe customer service in a two-way street, and I would like to raise awareness of these and other issues, and work on improving the customer experience as we move forward.
There are many people from different parts of the city that want their voices heard at the TTC. What are your thoughts on hearing these people? Some come from the downtown core. Others use the buses and LRT in the east. How can we make sure they all have a voice that is heard ?
Even though this panel is quite new, I’ve already heard a fair bit of feedback from people all over the city, and even from people as far away as Kitchener-Waterloo. I have a Twitter account (@JulieTyios) that people can reach me on, and I know the TTC has an email address to collect feedback on behalf of the panel (firstname.lastname@example.org). Depending on how things unfold as we move forward there may be other opportunities for us to reach out to riders all over the city, including perhaps some open forums or focus groups to gather feedback. I’m committed to hearing riders’ voices, and I encourage people to get in touch with me on Twitter or by email.
If there is one thing you would like to accomplish at the TTC, what would it be?
I would like people to know that there are lines of communication open to reach out to the TTC, whether it’s to commend a TTC employee for great service, or to report an incident. I’m really committed to getting quality feedback from people regarding customer service and any issues they have with their commute. I also know the TTC recently unveiled a Twitter account, @TTCnotices, to warn people about delays and route changes.
Public transit is vital to the city of Toronto, and I think we all win when we have a transit system that we can rely on. I know the TTC is a very complex system and there’s a lot to go through with this panel, but all of the members are committed to bringing recommendations to the table to help improve the TTC where possible.
What would you do if you were in Julie’s role? Feel free to leave comments below.