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TTC addresses cleanliness issues at stations?

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AM640 Toronto is running a report stating that the Toronto Transit Commission’s record of cleanliness at its subway stations is improving, although the commission still has some way to go before returning to the cleanliness that commuters may remember in days of yore.

According to the TTC’s report:

Of the 69 stations in the system, 23 have been deemed to be in a “good” state of cleanliness.

And while that is a long way from a system-wide rating of ‘good’, the report argues that it is still an improvement:

Two years ago, only one station was rated “good.”

The goal is to have every station posting a “good” rating by the end of the year.

The cynics among us may scoff at what they see as the TTC’s acknowledgement of the obvious, and they may even question the TTC’s rating system, but the fact that the TTC has acknowledged the problem in writing and set a goal for itself, gives this author som hope at least for some improvements. It gives us something to hold the TTC to.

At least, that’s my opinion. What’s yours? What are, in your opinion, the dirtiest stations on the TTC network? Which stations have you noticed becoming cleaner in recent months? Let us know.

(Update: more from the Toronto Star)

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  1. The washrooms at Kipling are worse than the toilets in the film Trainspotting. Start the cleanup there, please!

  2. I find the older stations to be a bit dirtier than the rest, especially on the University-Spadina section. The missing light fixtures, tiles, and ceiling sections don’t help either. The ones like St Patrick that have missing walls or ceilings were okay a couple years ago, but suddenly turned grungy within the space of a few months.

    I was a bit interested in the mention of bathrooms at the stations–I’ve never seen them!

  3. Personally I find the place to be pretty immaculate. The tracks aren’t flooded or filled with litter, there is rarely litter on platforms, the stations never smell like urine, there is very little gum worn on to the ground, and the little mice that run around are awfully cute.

    I think it’s within the trains (and streetcars) that any cleanliness campaign should focus on, from discarded newspapers in 34 pieces or spilled coffee. I find the subway platforms to be very clean.

  4. While the overall cleanliness of stations may be improving, I’ve noticed a disturbing increase in the amount of vandalism, particularly graffiti and “scratch-iti” throughout the system. Now I know that there are people out there who consider graffiti to be a legitimate form of artistic expression, but the fact is that the vast majority of such marks on TTC property are of a distinctively intimidating nature. Some of the worst offenders: the backwards-etched “SPUR” in the plate glass overlooking the northbound platform at Eglinton West (it’s been there for months); the large spray-painted gang tags that repeatedly appear on the platforms at Dupont (which, though removed by TTC every time, leave their unmistakable and fully-readable trace in the grout between the many small tiles); and the tags that are springing up on the walls of the streetcar ramp into Spadina Station, just south of Bloor. Further, there is the graffiti and scratch-iti that seems to adorn every bus and streetcar shelter, as well as the windows and seats of many TTC vehicles.
    Now I understand that graffiti can be very hard to deal with, but I also know that effective “graffiti management” must include prompt and full removal as one of its prime tools. There is a multiplier effect; in other words, when vandals see that their tags will remain in place for weeks, months, or even years, they start to get ideas. And when drivers are stuck in traffic and glance over at bus shelters which bear the unmistakable marks of gang territory, they feel less positive about trying the TTC.

  5. In the last year or so the TTC removed all platform-level garbage cans because of their security risk. Since then I’ve noticed more garbage on platofrms — especially at Dundas West where people buy MacDonald’s and finish it just before getting on the train.

    I’d be willing to accept that the old garbage cans were a potential risk because without taking off the lid no one could possibly tell if there was a dangerous package/substance inside (not to mention those garbage cans had no recycling compartment.) So why not install the same type of garbage/recycling bins they’ve installed near the entrance/exit of each station that use plastic bags on platforms?

  6. At the East end of Kipling Station’s bus platform where the Airport express bus drops people off there is what formally appeared to be a planter. Of course there is no greenery in the planter. It consists of mostly mud, and garbage.

    Garbage placed their by TTC Employees. Discarded air filters, bags of garbage, scrap metal, etc. The bags of garbage usually sit there for about 3 or 4 weeks, accumulating before someone removes them.

    When visitors to our city hop on the express bus to head downtown to their destination, this should NOT be the first thing they see when they get to the subway station.

    How is at at all acceptable for TTC employees to toss their trash on the bus platform?

  7. Under no circumstances is one ever to use the washrooms at Bloor station. Never, no matter how bad you’re going to piss yourself. They’re worse than a pit toilet in Calcutta.

  8. After listening to the presentation at Tuesday’s Commission meeting, Chair Adam Giambrone asked iCGM Gary Webster “What would it take to achieve Excellent?”

    Adam is apparently not satisfied with “Good” as a longterm goal for TTC Cleanliness scores (Good–75% QA rating vs ≈95% for Excellent or Wow!). Once-a-day overnight cleaning will NEVER achieve Excellent cleanliness scores as the overflowing King recycle bin posted on SpacingWire (Feb23.07) suggests and yesterday’s snowstorm confirmed.

    In a March 1st Toronto Star article ( iGM Ops Rick Cornacchia credits the improved cleanliness to the controversial move (of janitors from day shifts) to night cleaning which allows 137 workers (up from 39) to use highly efficient mechanized cleaning.

    The TTC has made major progress to go from one station a year ago to 23 stations today with “Good” cleanliness ratings (with a target of ~all~ 69 stations by year end.) TTC Staff are rightly proud of the improvement in the last year… within the approved 2006 Operating budget!!!

    TTC Staff, however, are constrained by this allocation within their operating budget. They don’t “see” the stations and vehicles during the day as TTC daily riders (including Adam) often do: dirty, filthy pigstys, strew with dirt, salt stains, trash, rubbish, abandoned Metro papers despite once-a-day overnight “efficient mechanized cleaning.”

    Is once-day-overnight cleaning enough? Would McDonald’s or their customers ever be happy with tables wiped/cleaned once a day overnight whilst the restaurants are closed?”

    From the same Star article above “The switch to nights has not been a total success, because it means there are fewer cleaners around during the day to clean up spills and litter, said Bob Kinnear, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113.”

    The answer is clear… once-a-day overnight cleaning is inadequate to keep TTC stations and vehicles to a level of cleanliness that TTC riders expect and long for. TTC riders likely appreciate Staff’s legencary efficiency but efficient overnight cleaning does nothing to address stations or vehicles that may need cleaning 2X, 3X, 4X/day—during the day!

    Adam will likely be setting the cleanliness bar higher… just like a McDonad’s restaurant, to not only have stratetic, efficent overnight cleaning, but also tactical cleaning during the day too… as needed based on customer counts, cleanliness audits and operator feedback… to achieve EXCELLENT cleanliness scores.

    I anticipate a further TTC Staff Report that will outline the staffing and budget implications of achieving the Excellent cleanliness standard; after which the Commission can arm-wrestle the issue through the BAC, if not in 2007, then in 2008 following a 2007 test.

  9. Interesting post, Brent. I’m amazed at the positive impact Adam Giambrone has had in such a short time over Howard Moscoe.

  10. There’s more… today’s Toronto Star Editorial
    Tidy the TTC, please (

    Anyone venturing into the dank recesses of a Toronto transit station washroom knows the system does a poor job of maintaining cleanliness.

    …And things need to change.

    Of the system’s 69 stations, just 23 have been found to be in a state of good cleanliness. …

    It is inexcusable that Toronto’s transit facilities were allowed to deteriorate to such a degree.

    Crowded subways must be kept as clean as possible to combat the spread of dangerous contagions. That should be self-evident in a city that has battled with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and where avian influenza, C. difficile bacterial outbreaks and other health concerns are staples of water cooler conversation.

    With 46 stations still falling short in cleanliness, more must be done to restore commuters’ pride in the system, and their confidence.
    Far from achieving the excellence TTC riders deserve, two-thirds of the stations aren’t even rated good.

    To its credit, the TTC is striving to fix this mess. …Despite all that, most TTC stations remain an unwholesome embarrassment. …

    More staff, equipment and effort must go toward keeping stations in order. Cleanliness should be a greater priority. It isn’t a frill or luxury; it is a critical aspect of serving the public.

    Perhaps Matt or James can post the Editorial in whole, with permission.

  11. Brent: It’s true that the system is still too dirty, but it was like that for many, many years under Moscoe and his predecessors. And now that Adam Giambrone is here, something is finally being done about it. I can’t remember hearing the TTC being so concerned about cleanliness in the recent past.

  12. Dave – thanks for the tip. I may have to give them a call about my local shelter. They have actually cleaned up some graffiti on it since I started using it, but they’re quite selective about what they clean up and what they don’t — i.e., it gets cleaned up if it’s on the advertising panels (of course…), but it gets left if it’s anywhere else.

  13. Hopefully they’re not being too narrow in measuring cleanliness, or will expand their definition as time goes on. A litter-free station still won’t look appealing with missing ceiling parts, graffiti, and water-stained walls. (Is Dundas station’s score permanently docked for its puke-coloured tiles?)

  14. The toilets at Bloor are insane.

    One evening I had to use the facilities and all the urinals were occupied. I checked a stall to use the toilet – there was excrement in the bowl which was nearly the same size (length and diameter) as my forearm. I was first shocked at the size before my disgust kicked in. I chose another stall, and didn’t try to flush it, because I was concerned of backing up the toilet.

    I didn’t have an appetite for a while after that…

  15. The TTC has a long way to go on the level of cleaning that they do. I know that budget limits the amount of cleaning done. But they do need more daytime cleaning done in the stations. The washrooms and the garbage can be done during the daytime. Plus during the wintertime, salting can be done too.
    Public safety and cleanliness should be a major issue with the TTC.
    I know that things will never be prefect, but the Special Constables should start fining people for littering on the system. That would discourage people from that.

  16. Geoff, you have to keep in mind that the situation you are describing has far more to do with the clientele who frequent the TTC’s washrooms than it does with the cleaning job done by TTC staff. Any public washroom that offers indiscriminate access to all becomes a haven for alcoholics, addicts, men looking for anonymous liasons, and the homeless. As a result, yes, they tend to be pretty horrendous. What I don’t understand is a normal, functional citizen like yourself using such facilities. I sure as hell don’t. If I absolutely must go, I will get off, go to a coffee shop or fast food place (where only customers get into the washrooms), buy a bottle of water and use their facilities. No way in hell would I use a bus or train station toilet, in Toronto, or any other city.

  17. Restroom facilities at Kennedy, Warden, Bloor, and Kipling are all in a filthy state. The trains are always cluttered with garbage with more panhandlers asking for handouts on trains.
    The more I ride the TTC, the more I think driving to work as ‘The Better Way. Time to get a car.

  18. People should stop littering, drawing graffiti, plastering stickers on the wall, on the stations.

  19. I have personally never been to a station washroom,but I have noticed the amount of scratchitti on the windows,bus stops,ect.
    Also at Bathurst station I have seen a KPS tag,a famous graffiti crew here.
    But as I parcipitate in those kind of activities,I have nothing to say about it.
    If you would like to reply,feel free to search me on the internet.I have left clues for you it is up to you to follow it.