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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 11 December 2014

What the TTC should learn from Ferguson

 * Does not reflect TTC Fare inspectors.
Should these situations escalate.  Hopefully they won't and all, but hey - it never hurts to be on the safe side.  Carrying a baton is like carrying an umbrella, right?
Wrong.  So wrong.  To plan for violent eventualities - to tell your recruits that hey, is a fight breaks out and if you get attacked, you've got this baton handy - is to frame the fare inspector's thought process in that they're looking for that situation to materialize. 
When you go looking for trouble, etc.

Police officers keep watch while demonstrators (not pictured) protest the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. (Reuters)
Just look at Ferguson.
Why, indeed?  Why do local police need to be armed with the equipment used by soldiers in fields of combat? 
Of course they don't.  In fact, if public service is equitable and justice is blind, the role of the town policeman should be an easy, even friendly one.
To put such weapons in the hands of police, or transit "fare inspectors" is to beg for their usage.  It's the ultimate marshmallow test - tempting a child with something fun or tasty, telling them not to use it and then walking away.
And there's more.
The TTC's concern is not enough fares are getting collected.  They need more money and the pressure is to find it internally, but it's hard to keep hiking fares when service keeps faltering.  So how about paying money for fare inspectors to help the cause?
How much of this will be about TTC riders vs existing TTC fare collectors?  Anyone who's ridden the TTC knows that collectors aren't always 100% tuned in to the people passing through their turnstyles.  Sometimes, there's no person there at all.  In some cases, good customer service gets in the way of watching every set of the tens of thousands of hands that pass over deposit boxes, especially over open gates.
It's not too hard to picture armed fare inspectors getting it into their head that they are superior to fare collectors and waving their baton around (figuratively speaking, of course) over fare-related matters, even customer service. 
All this at an agency that is struggling with service disruptions, delays, etc. 
The citizens aren't the problem.  The employees aren't the problem.  People are people - they will react to their environment, whatever it may be.  A poorly designed environment results in poor results.
Batons are a terrible addition to an already poorly designed environment.
I would suggest Brad Ross stop his Michael Hayden act and start recognizing that if people have concerns, it's probably there's a reason for it.
Instead of adding weapons to a volatilte mix, how about better management practices, better training, better service?  You could even use open data and digital tools to empower TTC riders to be part of the structural solution.  Heck, you could use civic fundraising to help address specific transit issues.
Let's sort this out before the TTC's baton business gets out of hand, and ends up in the media.

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