Editorial Archive

CEO’s Report – July commentary

Commission seal 7/8/20 6:00 PM

TTC Commissioners will have a full agenda at their next meeting in July. Among the items to be discussed and voted on are the award of contracts to make Donlands and College stations accessible.

Stations equipped with elevators make travel easier for people using wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, other mobility devices or baby strollers.

With the contracts approved, construction at both stations is scheduled to start in Q3 2020 and will involve the building of new emergency exits. In the meantime, accessibility work continues at the following stations: Yorkdale, Dupont, Wellesley, Chester, Wilson, Runnymede, Bay, Keele, Lansdowne and Sherbourne.

The TTC has 46 accessible stations. Our Easier Access Phase III Project has been accelerated to make all the remaining stations accessible by 2025, in compliance with provincial legislation.

Taking advantage of lighter customer traffic in the subway, at the beginning of June we closed Chester Station for roughly two weeks. Trains bypassed the station while we advanced major easier access work and elevator construction to move up the opening of the accessible Chester Station to this fall.

Commissioners, I’m pleased to report that all the work was completed by June 23 as scheduled. In particular, I’d like to thank our crews for completing a special cleaning blitz post-construction at Chester. We assigned three pressure-washing crews to the Line 2 station, each comprised of two employees. The first pair of crews was assigned to deep-clean each platform while the third crew tackled the mezzanine and station entrance level with a hot-water pressure washer. After some intensive and extensive work, Chester Station was left in a dazzling condition. Kudos to the Stations team who worked at Chester.

The TTC Board will be receiving an update on the Wheel-Trans Transformation Program and 10-Year Strategy, designed to make the TTC more accessible, equitable, inclusive and sustainable for current and future riders.

Wheel-Trans staff are pleased to report that the new Accessible Taxi and Sedan Taxi Service Contracts are in effect. Four of the five Accessible Taxi contractors as well as two of the three Sedan contractors have started providing service. The remaining two contractors have experienced delays as a result of the pandemic. Staff did provide a relief extension and are currently working with the companies to get both onboard as quickly as possible.

As part of the Wheel-Trans Transformation Program, staff completed a review of the reservations call centre operations and developed a plan to further address wait times. After an extensive consultation and Request for Information process, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued last March in order to seek a company to handle overflow calls and improve the customer experience. The RFP closed in May and staff plan to bring a report to the TTC Board in September to award the Wheel-Trans reservations overflow contract.

Late last month, we used an extended closure on Line 1 from Finch to Eglinton stations to conduct major track work and installation of Automatic Train Control (ATC) signalling components. The first two days (Thursday and Friday) of the closure were between Finch and Sheppard-Yonge. The closure was extended down to Eglinton for two more days over the weekend. This four-day closure was successful in taking advantage of the low ridership we are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic to fast track infrastructure improvements with minimal customer inconvenience.

Between Lawrence and Finch stations, crews installed ATC switch cable and a variety of ATC hardware. Cable tray for future ATC cable was installed from York Mills to Sheppard while ATC survey work and construction quality inspections were completed between Lawrence and Eglinton.

From Sheppard-Yonge to Finch stations, Plant Maintenance workers replaced track-level drainage pumps and performed a variety of other tasks, such as installing electrical cable sleeving, relamping and tunnel receptacle repairs.

Signals crews installed two new switch machines in the Finch tailtrack and replaced the trainstop controller between Finch and North York Centre stations. At North York Centre, our Structural Rehabilitation teams performed platform rehabilitation work while concrete liner repairs, tunnel leak remediation and asbestos removal occurred at locations between York Mills and Lawrence.

Accelerating state-of-good-repair and capital projects is part of the TTC’s restart and recovery plan that Commissioners unanimously approved last month. The plan includes the mandatory requirement for wearing a face covering while riding on the system starting on July 2. As well, the TTC resumed front-door boarding and the collection of cash, tickets and tokens, and handout of paper transfers, on all of our buses.

The TTC has an important role to play in the economic restart and recovery from COVID-19. Since the city has started to reopen, we’ve seen ridership increase –  primarily in our bus ridership to this point. And we’re excited to see ridership returning.

Weekly ridership has increased by 45 per cent from the COVID-19 low experienced in late April. While ridership levels are up across all vehicle modes, the bus fleet is carrying the bulk of the load.

As of the week of July 4, the TTC averaged 555,000 bus boardings every weekday (40 per cent of normal) compared to an average of 330,000 boardings on subways per weekday (22 per cent of normal). While the subway remains the backbone of the system, our bus fleet has shown during this pandemic what we’ve always known to be true – that it’s the real workhorse in the TTC network.

Of the 525 million riders we carried in 2019, 60 per cent of those took bus trips – the largest total by vehicle mode.

I’m also pleased to report that on July 4, Line 2 operations was converted to the new TETRA radio system. The cutover to TETRA began last January and replaces the old analogue radios. The change in radio systems is mandated by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and aligns with industry best practices. TETRA radio is used globally, and offers better voice quality, communication modes, customization options and recording capabilities for investigations.

And finally to Commissioners, I’d like to formally welcome Chrisanne Finnerty who steps into the role of Commission Services Director. Starting with the July meeting, Chrisanne will organize and oversee all aspects of TTC Board meetings and related procedures. Please join me in welcoming Chrisanne to her new post.

Chrisanne joined the TTC in 2016 as Co-ordinator of Secretariat Services, where she provided procedural advice and support to TTC Board members and their staff, along with agenda and meeting preparation for Commissioners and Committee members. She has most recently been working in the CEO’s Office as Acting CEO Business Support, managing the agenda forecasting process, providing advice to Commissioners and staff, and working with Councillor offices on various TTC-related requests. Prior to joining the TTC, Chrisanne spent 13 years in municipal government, working in progressively more responsible roles with the Town of Newmarket and Town of Caledon.

The next scheduled TTC Board meeting is set for September 24. I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable summer. Don’t forget that masks and face coverings became mandatory on the TTC on July 2. Please wear one if you can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow proper hand hygiene and physical distancing whenever possible.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
July 2020

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