Editorial Archive

CEO’s Report – August commentary

Commission seal 8/23/19 11:00 AM

In my May commentary, I provided an update on the efforts of our vehicle maintenance crews to prepare our rolling stock for the hot days of summer. We’re continuously implementing changes to improve air conditioning performance on our vehicles to keep our customers cool and comfortable.

To prepare for the summer season, an extensive preventive maintenance program was carried out to ensure proper functioning of air conditioning units on our train fleets. This program was completed in May. Some of the activities undertaken included: component inspections, cleaning of internal equipment, testing and checking of cooling systems.

So far this summer we’ve experienced three delay incidents related to air conditioning units onboard trains. These incidents involved water from air conditioning units leaking into the passenger compartment. The trains were removed from service and the units repaired.

CEO’s Report – August 2019

Overall, cooling systems are performing satisfactorily. Rail Vehicles technical staff and Transit Control staff are proactively monitoring the fleets for HVAC-related issues throughout the summer. During extreme heat, the air conditioning on older trains can become overworked. If this occurs in peak times, a train will continue to operate, then undergo repairs as quickly as possible after the rush period is over.

Should temperatures exceed 35 degrees Celsius, Transit Control will initiate the hot-weather protocol. To keep system performance at optimal levels, Control will reduce train speeds in the open cut sections of track and activate ventilation fans underground.

We perform the same proactive work on the bus fleet. The Bus Maintenance and Shops Department maintains well over 2,000 buses. Quality assurance checks and diagnostics on our rolling stock are conducted each spring and conclude by the beginning of June. These spring seasonal checks involve thorough inspections and the replacement of critical components that show signs of excessive wear.

When buses return from service, they are brought into the repair area for further diagnostics. Technicians perform daily air conditioning checks with heat guns to ensure air conditioning systems are working efficiently. Garage staff also have the ability to monitor new Nova buses using VISION software to identify issues that may affect the air conditioning system while these buses are in service.

On average this summer, preventative maintenance checks have minimized the number of in-service failures involving the air conditioning system. The majority of the defects found have occurred on our Orion hybrid fleet, which is 12 years old. In May and June, we averaged one daily air conditioning-related failure, which resulted in a delay to service.

Also, in the same months we had two reported air conditioning faults on a pair of new low-floor streetcars, each resulting in a six-minute delay to service.

As reported earlier this summer, Bill 107, Getting Ontario Moving Act, 2019 was passed into law by the Ontario Legislature on June 6. Bill 107 enabled the Province to prescribe a rapid transit project as the sole responsibility of Metrolinx, and gave the Province authority to transfer assets, liabilities, rights and obligations related to the project from the TTC to Metrolinx, through an Order in Council.

On July 23, 2019, the Province enacted a regulation (O. Reg. 248/19) that designated the Scarborough Subway Extension, Yonge North Subway Extension and Relief Line South and North projects as ‘sole responsibility projects’ of Metrolinx.

We are currently in discussions with the Ministry of Transportation to confirm next steps and implications of the regulation taking effect. The TTC, in partnership with City staff, will also continue to undertake the City Council and TTC Board directed technical assessment of the provincial transit proposal and will report the findings of the assessment to the Board and City Council in October.

A primary concern for me as CEO is seeking clarity for TTC employees and vendors impacted by the provincial regulation and upload of the transit expansion projects. Over the last several weeks, members of the TTC Executive Leadership team have been meeting with individual TTC employees who are impacted to share available information and discuss potential implications and opportunities. Regular employee communications updates are also being provided, including town hall meetings. There has also been a meeting with TTC vendors associated with the three expansion projects to provide information.

On August 8, the President and CEO of Metrolinx and President of Major Projects at Infrastructure Ontario held a discussion with TTC employees working on the expansion projects. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for staff to ask questions about the Province’s plans and to receive information directly from Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario.

The Province has indicated an interest in working with the City and the TTC to establish a staff services agreement that will provide full cost-recovery for services provided by the City/TTC. Discussions continue with the Province on the potential parameters of an agreement and the role the TTC will play in these expansion projects. A full update will be provided to the TTC Board in the fall.

On August 16, the TTC began running extra service on all routes heading to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). Our customers have several options to get to the CNE:
> 29 Dufferin, from Wilson and Dufferin stations to Dufferin Gate Loop.
> 121 Fort York Esplanade, from the Distillery District to Princes’ Gates Loop.
> 509 Harbourfront, from Union Station to Exhibition Loop.
> 511 Bathurst, from Bathurst Station to Exhibition Loop.
> 929 Dufferin Express, from Wilson Station to Dufferin Gate Loop.

The extra service will run until the last day of the CNE on Labour Day, September 2.

Saturday, August 17 was the 98th Annual Warriors’ Day Parade at the CNE. Every year, we are proud to offer free transit to current and former members of Canada’s military on this significant day of remembrance. War and peacekeeping veterans can simply show their service medals or ribbons to receive free access to our system. One companion can also ride free of charge.

Historically, the CNE has been an excellent way for the TTC to showcase new vehicles. It was 44 years ago this month that a full-scale mock-up of our CLRV streetcar went on display at the Exhibition. The attraction gave the citizens of Toronto their first look at this modern vehicle, which was the replacement for the PCC streetcar introduced in 1938. The first CLRV entered revenue service on Long Branch in September 1979 – 40 years ago next month.

In May, I advised that we would be re-assessing the U-Pass – a TTC fare program offered to students enrolled full-time in an eligible postsecondary institution. The assessment will be part of our Five-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Fare Collection Strategy, planned to be completed in early 2020.

New provincial tuition guidelines, announced in April, allow students to opt-out of transit-related fees like the U-Pass. Without full participation, the TTC won’t get the levels of ridership and revenue needed to sustain the U-Pass program. We have advised Ryerson University on the changes to provincial guidelines and the time needed to re-assess the program’s viability.

At the time of writing this commentary only 44 CLRVs remained in service. The fleet is gradually being retired as new low-floor streetcars continue to arrive on property. In fact, starting in September, all services on the 501/301 Queen and the 508 Lake Shore routes are scheduled to be provided by low-floor streetcars, which will designate these services as fully accessible. The last CLRV is scheduled to be retired at the end of this year.

The delivery of new Low-Floor Light Rail Vehicles (LFLRV) continues to progress well. As of August 2, 2019, Bombardier has delivered and commissioned 165 LFLRVs. TTC staff remains optimistic that Bombardier will fulfill their order of 204 vehicles by the end of 2019. While 2019 delivery commitments are being met, Bombardier and the TTC also continue to address reliability concerns, while balancing service requirements.

Of the 165 LFLRVs commissioned, nine LFLRVs have been returned to Bombardier for the Major Repair Program (MRP) and for flood-related damage.

Bombardier has developed and is implementing numerous vehicle modification programs to improve vehicle reliability. Examples of these programs include: door modifications, brake caliper design improvements and camera modification.

Along with these modification programs, TTC staff is also preparing to commence the four-to-five-year overhaul program on the earlier vehicles and install the new VISION system on the streetcar fleet as part of the TTC’s capital programs.

With the above efforts and initiatives, Bombardier and TTC staff strive to continue improving the reliability of the new LFLRV fleet. This includes working closely with Bombardier and its primary parts suppliers to complete the various modification programs to help meet the 35,000-kilometre target by end of 2019.

In June 2019, the mean distance between failure for the LFLRV fleet was 19,405 km and was calculated based on reliability criteria outlined in the procurement contract. These criteria are based on what are known as A, B, C and D type failures, which are summarized the CEO’s Report (Table 1 on page 17).

In Q4 2019, Bombardier has also committed to aggressively tackling the outstanding backlog and warranty repair work while the TTC has committed to decommissioning the remaining legacy vehicles by year end. Table 2 on page 17 is a summary of planned LFLRV maintenance vs. service requirements for the remainder of the year.

The installation of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) signalling system in the subway continues.

Last May, we launched ATC on the portion of Line 1 between Dupont and St Patrick stations. As a result, trains have been operating in ATC mode from St Patrick all the way up to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station. The installation of ATC infrastructure up to the Rosedale Station is 90-per-cent completed.

In July, we welcomed 13 new Transit Fare Inspectors (TFIs) to the TTC. The TFI Basic Training program involves six weeks of intensive in-class training and in-field peer instruction on proof of payment inspections and TTC By-law No. 1. Basic training also focuses on communication skills, de-escalation, mental health, diversity and inclusion, disability act, statute law, and community and customer engagement.

As mentioned in my July 11 statement, following the release of the Ombudsman report on the February 2018 incident involving TFIs, beyond accepting all six recommendations in the report, the TTC is committed to developing an anti-racism strategy aimed directly at preventing racial profiling. This strategy will include anti-racism training for all levels of the organization, starting with the Executive Team.

Apprenticeship programs are critical to the TTC in developing the next generation of skilled tradespeople. On July 12, 2019, the Bus Maintenance and Shops Department celebrated the graduation of 29 apprentices from the 2018-2019 Truck and Coach Apprenticeship Program. Also included in this class was the first graduate from the Auto Body and Collision Repair Program.

Led by Al Pritchard, Head of Bus Maintenance and Shops, and implemented by Human Resources, the TTC’s apprenticeship programs were developed to address a growing shortage of skilled tradespeople. The programs are run annually in partnership with Centennial College and have been ranked among the best in Ontario for several years running. To graduate, the Truck and Coach apprentices must complete a four-year program with training standards set by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Applicants are a mix of internal and external candidates. Upon graduation, apprentices play a critical role in maintaining and managing the TTC’s bus fleet.

In addition to partnering with Centennial College, we’ve also partnered with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) on an initiative called Front of the Line. Each year, this program recruits up to four graduating high school students who are offered apprenticeships in our Truck and Coach and Collision Repair maintenance areas.

The Bus Maintenance and Shops Department recently initiated another program with the TDSB called the Specialized Trades Exploration Program (STEP) for Transportation. STEP is geared towards bringing awareness and interest to the trades by onboarding more than 20 co-op students to explore the various skilled trades within the department.

To address a similar shortage of skilled tradespeople in rail, the TTC, in partnership with Centennial College and the TDSB, will be expanding its apprenticeship programs to the Rail Cars and Shops and the Streetcar Maintenance departments.

These programs will supplement the in-house rail maintenance training programs that are currently provided to employees. The new 14-month Rail Transit Car Mechanic program and the existing 13-month Light Rail Vehicle Technician and Subway Vehicle Technician programs will rely on colleges to provide technical training in mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, electrical and electronics, while the in-house training builds on students’ knowledge base by providing in-depth vehicle familiarization, technical mentorship and extensive hands-on experience with vehicle repairs.

In April, both the Rail Cars and Shops and the Streetcar Maintenance departments accompanied the Bus Maintenance and Shops Department to a job fair aimed primarily at automotive students. At this fair, students were introduced to lesser-known opportunities in rail maintenance.

While graduates from automotive programs focus more on combustion-type engines, the differences between automotive and rail are becoming less pronounced with the increased adoption of green technology like electric cars and buses. Graduates from automotive programs have the fundamental technical background that can be expanded upon for rail maintenance.

From this job fair alone, more than 20 students applied for positions within our targeted areas. Continuing to grow and support our apprenticeship programs will help strengthen our workforce for the future and will help keep the TTC competitive as an organization.

Earlier this year, the Streetcar Maintenance Department expanded its Low-Floor Vehicle Technician and Rail Transit Car Mechanic perquisite qualifications to include licensed Automotive Service Technicians, Truck and Coach Technicians and Millwrights.

Streetcar Maintenance and Rail Cars and Shops engaged in several recruitment drives at various colleges. Successful candidates are currently in the onboarding process and are expected to enter the workforce in August.

Finally, we will be introducing reliability improvements to the following services starting on the first of September: 41 Keele, 42 Cummer, 50 Burnhamthorpe, 80 Queensway, 84 Sheppard West, 85 Sheppard East, 89 Weston, 96 Wilson, 141 Downtown/Mt Pleasant Express, 165 Weston Rd North, 939 Finch Express, 941 Keele Express, 984 Sheppard West Express, 985 Sheppard East Express, 989 Weston Express, 996 Wilson Express, 501 Queen and 503 Kingston Rd.

Service will also be increased on the 101 Downsview Park in the peak periods for the new Centennial College campus in Downsview Park.

We look forward to the September Board meeting (Sept. 24), where we will be highlighting our plans for fall and winter preparedness.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
August 2019

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