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.

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