rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Transit workers to hold town hall meetings with TTC customers

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $1 per month!

Responding to what they called a recent avalanche of media-fuelled criticism, ATU Local 113 called Tuesday for a series of town hall meetings so transit workers and TTC customers can work out ways of improving services while building a new level of respect and support.

“As a union, we will be prepared to listen to constructive criticism and take it to heart,” said Bob Kinnear, President ATU Local 113. “We’ll listen to customer complaints if they are presented in a reasonable way and we are given the courtesy of a courteous reply.”

Kinnear said the objective of the meetings will be to repair the damage that has been done to their reputation and their relationships with fellow Torontonians.

In the meantime, Kinnear pleaded with TTC patrons to stop harassing and insulting transit workers by waving their cell phone cameras in their faces or spitting on them.

“Stop calling them lazy and overpaid,” he added. “Stop the video stalking of drivers when they stop for a washroom break. We’re entitled to washroom breaks, like any human being should be.’

After the recent fare increase, TTC employees braced themselves, once again, for an increase in insults and assaults. “But the recent media focus on a handful of TTC workers has made a bad situation much worse,” he said.

Many operators now hesitate to take a washroom break for fear of ridicule or embarrassment if their picture ends up in the newspaper or a YouTube video. (Kinnear pointed out the common problems of chronic urinary retention: urinary tract infections, kidney infections, kidney failure, bladder cancer and prostrate problems.)

He asked the media not to publish such pictures or video because it only gives readers and viewers one side of the story. “Things aren’t always black and white, even when they might seem black and white to some people,” he said. “People are entitled to defend themselves and tell their side of the story.”

Kinnear made it clear that the union takes criticism seriously and wants to address the issues. But he took TTC Chief General Manager Gary Webster to task for failing to take responsibility for managerial decisions that also angered many customers. Like the recent token fiasco. Or the staff cutbacks, chronic government underfunding and St. Clair cost overruns.

In order to improve rider satisfaction, Kinnear admitted that some of his employees need customer service training and counseling. Some more than others, he said. “We want a better relationship with our customers, because, frankly, it is hell out there right now,” said Kinnear.

At the same time, he wants the public to understand that transit workers do not set fares, decide how many vehicles are available or control the traffic or the weather.

“We are doing the best we can, given the circumstances and the tools we are presented with,” he said.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.