Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fight Back: Demand a TTC Audit

I've decided to take this one personally. According to the following two links:



the Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC) public transportation system has experienced a relatively minor 20% bump in token sales (according to their own spokesperson); a normal event in any sales process. Token shortages shouldn't occur with such a small increase in sales.

And, they are clearly exaggerating about losing any millions in revenue. Any non-defective organization should easily be able to deal with an extra windfall of cash. Normally people buying ahead of an increase is a good thing. Particularly if you announce the increase nearly two months in advance.

So what's happening here?

I figured the first round of this stupid game -- punishing the riders by limiting tokens -- was just some type of power-play.

A typical TTC vs. the government maneuver, where the riders get shot in the middle. A way for management to try to inflame people in hopes that they would apply pressure to the government for funding. You know, the usual BS that the TTC has been dishing out to us for years.

But this new thing with not allowing us to have any tokens anymore. This is different. This goes too far beyond incompetence, I think it is deliberate.

I suspect that the rider's protest and strike, however minimal the impact, might have angered TTC management, and that they've decided to punish us by depriving us of some of their services. A sort of "crappy" work-to-rule type game. Keep the staffing levels the same, remove the tokens and then create massive lineups. Great punishment tactics, particularly around a busy season like Christmas.

Perhaps someone deep inside the TTC feels that we the masses, need to be humbled.

I know it all sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, but truthfully it is either that or the TTC is actually the world's worst run organization. Ever. I mean, every other company, charity, ministry, branch, commission or any other medium to large organization on the planet would be happy to deal with a bunch of customers paying in advance. It's normal. Nobody turns down money. Never has IBM denied selling people laptops, nor Chrysler just stopped selling cars. This is "pre" business 101. They don't even need to teach this in business school, it is just understood.

And if people pay you in advance, thanks to the magic of reinvesting in the areas like the money-market -- the same way all other large enterprises have to -- the unused capital accumulates interest, which is a good thing. Businesses have dealt with this for hundreds of years. Unsteady cash-flows are a normal part of business.

So what is the problem with the TTC?

Our choices are either to believe that: a) they are completely incompetent, or b) they are vindictive, spiteful and punitive.

Now, Ontario sure has certainly had it share of intellectually-challenged management, but certainly as of late, our biggest problems have been the super-villains. Corrupt management that does what it pleases without even trying to deliver anything tangible anymore. E-health, Ontario Hydro, our city contracts. We've had a long and glorious history of indulging these super-villains.

Still, most people in Ontario would rather pretend that we don't have any of this type of third-world corruption here. We quickly turn a blind eye, while executives fill up at the trough without any resistance. You might say we're, ummm, what you call "suckers".

That we live with this is shameful enough, but when they start making our lives more miserable, punitively, particularity at a busy time like Christmas. Well, that is a dangerous line to cross, and this time they have chosen to go way too far to the other side.

They might figure they have us over a barrel. That there is nothing we can do about a government run monopoly right? We are helpless, we have no choice but to just take our lumps and shut up. But they are wrong!

Were there is smoke there is usually fire. Where there is such abuse of power, there are always other infractions.

These managers, malicious or incompetent are no doubt guilty of far more nefarious things than not just bothering to order enough tokens. Or despising their customers. Their vindictive or lazy behavior -- either way -- is probably just the tip of the iceberg for their more serious transgressions.

But it doesn't even matter if the sorry state of our system is due to incompetence or negligence. The truth is, the money is gone either way. We just keep sinking so much money in, and they just keep under-delivering. It's about time that this changed.

We are tax payers, the system is ours, and we've paid for it. We have a right to demand that our money was well spent, that it was all reasonably handled. And if it wasn't, then heads should roll. As many as are responsible. If it takes wiping out the entire upper layer of management, I'm sure we couldn't actually do worse at this point. 

So, if we care and we want to fight back, we should all call for an open audit of the TTC. An independent review. The books should be throw open wide to the Auditor General. The Federal one (I'm not sure the Provincial one is all that independent). We should get a full, in-depth and fair accounting of how our money has been spent over the last five years at least, if not longer. They should do a comprehensive audit looking for both mismanagement of funds and for possible inappropriate, or illegal dispersals.

We hate the system, it is too expensive, and we are not getting value for our money. In fact, on a world wide scale, the whole system is just embarrassing. We've got one of the weakest, most expensive, poorly functioning systems out there. It would be nice to know why.

So I am taking this personally. Wanton corruption, or mismanagement, I don't care anymore, they went way too far this time. I just want it cleaned up. I want the money we spend to provide us with value. I want a system that works.

If you're fed up like me and you want to do something about it, then we have a very simple, tangible and achievable goal. We need to demand an audit. It's our right. Spread the news, tell your family, friends and co-workers.

Then we all need to pressure the newspapers, politicians, the Auditor General of Canada and any one else who will listen, into pushing for an immediate audit of the TTC finances. Starting now. Right away, not in five years time.

And, if, as one expects, there are some irregularities contained under the hood, we also need to push to insure that the responsible parties are removed from the organization immediately and forever. Criminal proceeding can be an issue for later, right now we just need to clean up the management levels.

If enough of us demand that this be done, they will have little choice.

It is time we clean up this mess. It is time we actually pushed for a change towards a decent reliable transit system. It is time we stop being suckers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Boycott the TTC on Friday Nov. 13th

Normally, I wouldn't be interested in promoting mass action, it is not really my style. Still, after a lifetime of irritation, frustration and general annoyance, I think it's about time that we -- as disenfranchised TTC riders -- make a point to the management that we think that they are doing a bad job. A really crappy one.

The TTC, for all of my international readers, stands for the "Toronto Transit Commission". It is the organization directly in charge of making sure that Toronto has some type of public transit system that reflects our status in the world. They run our late buses, hulking streetcars, overcrowded subways and our silly little rapid transit system. Apparently they still subscribe to the idea that Toronto is "hogtown", since that's the appropriate level of service that they shakily provide for us.

In Canada, Ontario has always had a long, sordid history of running really pathetic, hopelessly inept bureaucracies. We seem gifted at gathering together unmotivated near-lifeless peons, packing them together like cattle and getting idiots with overly-simplified theories of process to lead them. We keep setting these abominations loose on the province to stagnate slowly in a stew of bad rules, inefficient processes, bitchy unions and perpetual political scheming that usually results in little more than them just squeaking through the minimal day-to-day requirements while wasting copious amounts of money. We are good at wasting money. Very good at it.

Our transit system is a shining example of this type of moronic accomplishment. We've long been treated to a pathetic history of wasting money, forgetting that we live in a "winter" city and a type of sever disrespect for the actual "riders" of the system that borders on nasty.

Recently TTC mis-management has decided to raise the price again. I'm not necessarily against that, although I'd feel it wouldn't be a requirement if they'd just stop wasting their money all of the time. Still, until they actually learn to control spending, they have to do something.

What pisses me off about this fare hike is the usual "contempt" that management has for its riders. Once again, in expectation for this hike, they've placed a "limit" on the number of tokens we can buy.

"What the hell?" all you non-Torontonians say "they won't let you buy stuff?". Yes, and it is totally brain-dead.

Every time the TTC raises it prices, they announce it long in advance, and then in expectation they limit the sales of tickets and tokens, so that we -- the "evil riders" -- don't stock up on them.

Normally I might buy 10 tokens, once a week. It's OK, I don't mind. But for a couple of months now I'll be limited to only buying only 5 tokens at a time. A pathetically small number of tokens. Primarily because some paranoid delusional door-knob somewhere in that decrepit organization can't get their head around buying a whole lot more tokens to meet the increased load, or to just announce the hike with a shorter lead time.

Why do either reasonable option, when instead you can be an asshole to your riders? Just because no other "sane" organization (in the world) would show such total dis-respect for their customers, isn't a strong enough reason why our bloated government monopoly shouldn't do it.

This from the bozos that accidentally priced their last metro-pass offering too low, and were complaining about being short by 14 million dollars. From the bozos that scream about litter and eating food on the subway, while exploiting their own employees for selling unhealthy pizza slices for a mega pre-charity collections agency. From the bozos that think "street cars" and "light transit" aren't somehow effected by snow, and that "outside stations" aren't freak'in cold in the winter. From the bozos that think "full" isn't cramped with enough people, until it means that everyone has to hold their breath in order to fit.

This from people who obviously don't use the TTC; who have their chauffeurs drive them to work everyday to avoid the masses. Who aren't there with the rest of us, in the trenches, trying to survive another awful day, in a badly run, overcrowded, dirty, subway system that some douche-bag marketer had the audacity to refer to as "the better way".

So, if you've had enough nonsense from these people, and you'd really like to send them a message that "their management techniques suck", like me you should consider not riding through the mess on Friday. I'm talking the day off. I'm going to boycott them.

If enough of us participate hopefully it will be noticed by the press, if not by the head incompetents themselves. Maybe someday they'll figure out how to get past their own uselessness to actually fix something, to make it work smoothly, or even just to motive their own employees to not be so grouchy. Maybe. Someday. We can dream.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Honestly, I'm tired of being a target. I'm tired of people trying to figure out how to extract my income with whatever stupid trick they currently think is clever. I'm tired of people trying to play on my sympathies in order to own fancier cars and larger houses. I'm tired of people assuming that I'm just too stupid or lazy to notice that they are ripping me off. I'm tired of turning a blind eye to their deception, just because realistically there are no other choices; no alternatives. I'm tired of them thinking, in any way, form or shape, that I've somehow been hoodwinked by their entirely obviously, facile, pathetic attempts to propel themselves forward at my expense. I'm tired of people playing games; stupid ones that they think they are getting away with. I'm tired of people hiding their knowledge, because somehow, they think that it is their only shot at getting their little slice of the pie. I'm tired of people thinking that whatever pathetically incorrect jumble that they know even has value; that they even deserve a slice of the pie. I'm tired of any of their last ditch attempts to come from behind; to redeem themselves for all their selfish, mean, cruel deeds done while they were under that spell that youth might be eternal. I'm tired of the bad designs, the ugly colors, the lack of patience and the total lack of believing that anything not understood is far far simpler than it actually turns out to be. I'm tired of watching people on TV that seem to self-inflict the types of stupidities that only lessor animals should be obvious of. I'm tired of interference. I'm tired of people thinking they know what's good for me; for their holier than thou attitudes; for their false sense of superiority, as if I never bothered to or was entirely incapable of being able to come to an appropriate conclusion myself. I'm tired of people standing on street corners, completely unaware that the world is revolving. I'm tired of people huddling in masses, terrified that something, somewhere is watching them in total disapproval; that it even cares. I'm tired of mean people, and bitter ones. I'm tired of people venting their problems, their issues or just their lack of contentment with the world at large in my direction. I'm tired of thinking that my species is entirely oblivious to its fate, that it is going to crash, then curl up into a ball, whimpering right to the very end that "it didn't know, it wasn't told". I'm tired of watching the same stupid mistakes, come one after another, again and again, over and over again; ignored, displaced or just bypassed by a mass of people who are obviously too busy trying to make it through another day of dreariness in our overly complex, under rewarding, crazy-ass modern life style to still care. I'm tired of bad writing, and rants, and long rambling posts. I'm tired of people thinking that I care, or should care, or want to care, or may even possibly change my mind someday and start caring. I'm tired of writing this again. I've tired of being targeted.