Anonymous Twitter account targets Toronto transit riders with mean tweets

An anonymous "transit operator" Twitter page targeted transit riders with mean tweets. File / The Canadian Press

An anonymous Twitter account has sparked controversy online for a series of mean-spirited messages sent to transit riders tweeting their concerns and frustrations to Toronto-area transit agencies.

The account, which calls itself the Transit Operators of Ontario (TOO), responded to complaints about bus delays and poor customer service. Some of the replies suggested ways customers could solve the problem.

“Maybe you should leave early instead of blaming the driver,” read one tweet from TOO in response to a customer complaining about a late bus.

It is not clear who exactly is behind the account. A bio posted to the account said the opinions expressed did not reflect the views of any organization. Anne Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx, told Global News the tweets struck a sour note.

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“To have a Twitter account that looks official because it’s called the Transit Operators of Ontario […] and is responding to customers rudely, often denigrating them, making fun of their complaints, I believe it’s harassment.”

Aikins, who called out the account on her Twitter page and reported it to the social networking site, said she was disturbed when she came across the tweets while monitoring Metrolinx’s Twitter pages. She acknowledged that transit operators face unique challenges dealing with the public every day, but said that did not excuse the behaviour displayed on the account.

“The transit operators that I work with every day, both on the TTC as well as our own system are dedicated professionals that believe in the job that they’re doing, and I know that they would never do that, nor would they tolerate it,” Aikins said.

“Regardless of how frustrated a customer is, they don’t deserve to be harassed like that.”

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In response to Aikins’ tweets, the person behind the account said the tweets were meant to educate the public on what transit operators’ experiences are like.

“I am sorry you are offended but the public needs to know what we deal with,” the account tweeted. “As stated in my bio, I am not representing any organization and the tweets should not be taken seriously… if the president of US can harass everyone, why can’t an average joe educate the public??”

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Global News reached out to the Twitter account for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

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