Editorial Archive

CEO’s Report – January commentary

Commission seal 1/21/20 8:53 PM

One hundred years ago this month, the citizens of Toronto voted to take over the privately run Toronto Railway Company and all other local street railways.

This decision paved the way for public ownership of the transportation system in the city, and in June 1920 the Province of Ontario passed the enabling legislation. The Toronto Transportation Commission would officially begin service the following year.

Shortly after legislation was passed, a three-person Commission was appointed by the City. Starting with no permanent staff or offices, these three individuals – Chairman Peter W. Ellis and Commissioners George Wright and Fred Miller – began to forge plans for the change to public ownership and the major system expansion program that followed.

On behalf of the TTC Executive and the entire workforce, it is my honour and privilege to congratulate the TTC Board on its 100th anniversary. This Commission has played a vital role in the growth of public transit – and the city itself – over the last century. All of us at the TTC are looking forward to continued progress in moving the city forward in a positive way.

Speaking of history, I was thrilled by the overwhelming fondness expressed by Torontonians on the retirement of our CLRV streetcars.

Since 1979, CLRVs have served our city, carrying more than 30 million customers annually.

On December 29, 2019, the CLRV era officially came to an end when the final six cars completed their last runs on Queen Street. CLRV #4001, filled with delighted customers who won the chance to be part of history, was the last car to roll into Russell Carhouse that afternoon.

I would like to say a big thank-you to our Operators for a successful final day of service: Jason Kmiecik, Steven Welch, Benjamin Attakora, Jesse Goulah, Luis Barreiras and Brenda Michaud, who operated car #4001 into the history books.

It was a wonderful celebration. But there was a greater reason to cheer. With the decommissioning of the legacy streetcar fleet, and the arrival of the last new, low-floor streetcar this month, the TTC surface vehicle fleet is now fully accessible.

Our 204th low-floor streetcar was shipped from Bombardier’s Thunder Bay plant on January 14.

These new vehicles are providing reliable service for our customers, and we continue to work with our supplier to improve the reliability even further so they remain part of the city landscape for decades to come.

The end of 2019 also brought us one station closer to an accessible system with elevators being turned on at Royal York Station on Line 2. While Royal York became our 46th accessible station, construction continues at nearly a dozen other locations across the network as we strive to make all remaining subway stations accessible by 2025.

The Easier Access program is just one of many major projects that provide a bold vision of what transit in Toronto should be.

I would like to thank the TTC Board for approving our 2020-2029 Base Capital Budget and Plan last month. The TTC is also grateful to City Council for approving the incremental City Building Fund dedicated transit in Toronto. It provides the TTC with much-needed sustainable funding and helps reduce the unfunded portion of our Capital Investment Plan by more than $4 billion over the next 10 years.

As a result of this new funding, TTC staff have identified several key areas to allocate the funding. They are: State of good repair and capacity enhancements on Line 1, signal modernization and capacity enhancements on Line 2, and an accelerated vehicle procurement plan.

We have a 15-Year Capital Investment Plan clearly outlining the infrastructure projects required to keep our integrated and accessible network in a state of good repair, and build the capacity and reliability improvements that the citizens of our great city demand and deserve.

The Capital Investment Plan, released in early 2019, was important in providing a pragmatic and comprehensive overview of the TTC’s long-term maintenance and growth/capacity needs.

The approved TTC 2020-2029 Base Capital Budget was valued at $7.4 billion with $287.1 million for Transit Expansion Projects, including the Scarborough SRT Life Extension, Toronto Waterfront and the completion of the remaining scope of the Line 1 Extension projects.

We also have a Five-Year Service Plan and 10-Year Outlook to deliver reliable, efficient, integrated and accessible public transit service for a ridership base projected to increase through the decade ahead.

Supported by a transit-minded Mayor and a strong TTC Chair and Board leading the way on advocating for sustained funding for critical infrastructure investments, the TTC is poised to carry Toronto into the future. There is no better time to invest in public transit infrastructure in Toronto than right now.

The City has been in ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Transportation on finalizing agreements related to the new Toronto-Ontario Transit Partnership.

A formal agreement on terms approved by City Council on October 29, 2019 is being finalized for the end of March.

The City has prepared a report for the January 23 Executive Committee meeting titled, Toronto-Ontario Transit Partnership-Status Update. The report provides the status of various agreements with the Province, including a Memorandum of Understanding on Transit Oriented Development that pertains to the provincial priority projects.

The Province has also issued a Statement of Intent to the City, which outlines plans to introduce new measures and enabling authorities to allow for the acceleration of transit expansion delivery. Further engagement and consultation on the proposed measures will occur, and the TTC will be invited to participate in these discussions.

The TTC supports efforts to look at expediting the delivery of new transit expansion, and will evaluate opportunities in the context of the TTC’s need to run a safe and effective operation for our customers.

More detailed implementation agreements will be developed outlining roles and responsibilities between the parties, including outlining the TTC’s role with respect to fare and service policy and maintenance in accordance with Council direction last October. I will continue to provide updates to the TTC Board as further information is available.

On December 10, 2019, the TTC met with PRESTO to discuss future plans. At the meeting, PRESTO staff demonstrated new hardware and payment options being prepared for the 905 transit agencies. The new PRESTO devices will address both hardware durability and system reliability – an important step in improving PRESTO’s products.

We have offered to develop a common work plan with PRESTO that maps out future functionality requirements to ensure our payment system delivers on operational, customer and fare policy objectives. The work plan would also include collaboration on the TTC’s Fare Collection Request for Information and our 5-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Collection Outlook.

While expedited arbitration and settlement discussions are ongoing, a final settlement won’t be reached until the TTC, PRESTO and Metrolinx can come to an agreement on what needs to be delivered for open payment on the TTC.

In the meantime, we will watch with great interest as the planned open payment pilot on the UP Express is rolled out in October 2020, followed by pilots for GTHA agencies in 2021.

Metrolinx is in discussions with the Province to secure funding to extend the Discount Double Fare (DDF) agreement beyond its March 31, 2020 expiry date. The three-year agreement between the TTC, the City and Metrolinx provides customers with a $1.50 discount when transferring between TTC and GO Transit services using their PRESTO card.

The DDF advances fare integration across the GTA, but without additional provincial funding, the agreement will expire and customers will no longer receive the discount. The TTC is at risk of losing $1.1 million in revenue as per our Board-approved 2020 Operating Budget that will be before City Council in February. Due to our budget constraints, we can only forgo $1.1 million annually in provincial funding to support the continuation of the DDF program. I will update the Board as discussions between Metrolinx and the Province continue.

At last November’s meeting, I informed the Board that we are in the process of finalizing the bid evaluations for the Accessible Distance-Based Taxi Service and Sedan Meter-Based Taxi Service contracts. Requests for Quotation were posted last November and bids were received for both service contracts.

Contracted taxi services supplement Wheel-Trans buses by providing specialized accessible service to Wheel-Trans customers, escorts and support persons within the city.

TTC staff will ask the Board to approve recommendations to award these contracts at next month’s meeting.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
January 2020

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