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Commission seal 6/26/20 6:00 PM

Highlights from the TTC Board’s June 17 meeting

Last week’s TTC Board meeting discussions focused largely on our restart and recovering plan. Now that we’re beginning to see an uptick in ridership, all the incredible work that we’ve been doing across the system has underscored our key objectives during the COVID-19 crisis:
> Safety of customers and employees first;
> Providing an essential service to support the economic recovery of the city and province;
> Ensuring critical assets and infrastructure are available to provide a safe and reliable service; and
> Planning for a “new normal” now and post-pandemic.

COVID-19 – Transitioning from Response to Restart and Recovery Report
Staff Presentation: COVID-19 – Transitioning from Response to Restart and Recovery

At the June 17 virtual meeting, Commissioners unanimously approved the COVID-19 – Transitioning from Response to Restart and Recovery report. In doing so, the Board adopted the following recommendations:
> Wearing of a non-medical mask or face covering as a mandatory requirement for every person on the transit system or on TTC property effective July 2, 2020. Exceptions are:
   -Children under two years of age;
   -Persons with an underlying medical condition that inhibits the ability to wear a mask or face covering;
   -Persons who are unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance;
   -TTC employees and agents within an area designated for TTC personnel and not for public access, or within or behind a physical barrier or shield; and
   -Persons requiring accommodation in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.
> Working with the City’s Poverty Reduction Office on a one-time distribution of one million non-medical masks throughout the system specifically targeting neighbourhood improvement areas. The effort starts on June 29 and will coincide with an awareness campaign in multiple languages. We’re also working with the Office on the distribution of unloaded Presto cards at no cost.
> Endorse the expenditure of unbudgeted funds required for COVID-19 restart and recovery activities, estimated at $27.5 million until Labour Day.
> Refunds for March and April TTC Monthly Passes in the form of a pro-rated credit to March and April pass holders based on their daily usage between March 18-31 and April 1-30, at a cost of $12.8 million; and implementation costs of up to $100,000 to cover a customer credit solution to be developed by Presto.
> Temporary rent relief and term extension for TTC retail tenants.
> Request the Government of Canada and Province of Ontario to provide emergency operating funding; and reiterate the request to work with the TTC, in consultation with the City, on a sustainable funding model for public transit.

Other key initiatives in the recovery plan include:
> Starting July 2, the resumption of front-door boarding and alighting on buses and acceptance of cash, tickets and tokens, while continuing rear-door boarding;
> Enhanced customer flow and station management, especially during delays and/or emergencies in the subway, as well as the addition of 100 temporary customer ambassadors; and
> Continued acceleration of state-of-good-repair and capital projects.

Deputy CEO Kirsten Watson, Chief Financial Officer Josie La Vita and Head of Service Planning and Schedules Mark Mis each provided a detailed presentation highlighting ridership scenarios and physical distancing guidelines, public confidence in the safety of our system and a forecast of ridership and revenues that are not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels by year’s end. The TTC is facing a potential revenue loss of about $520 million, depending on the gradual reopening of the economy.

I stressed that customers who are returning to the TTC can be assured that the system is safe. We were one of the first properties in North America to significantly boost cleaning and disinfecting of our public spaces and touch points several times a day. And we clean our vehicles multiple times daily. We’re also providing hand sanitizer at all subway stations, and currently conducting a trial using dispensers on nearly 90 streetcars.

I expressed my sincerest appreciation on behalf of all employees to Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Fire Chief Matthew Pegg. Both joined the meeting remotely to deliver brief remarks.

From the beginning of this crisis, the TTC has been in daily contact with Dr. de Villa and Toronto Public Health. They’ve provided a lot of great guidance and the most up-to-date information available about the pandemic. And I thanked Chief Pegg for his leadership at the City’s Emergency Operations Centre and constant support of the TTC.

The TTC Board approved a motion introduced by Commissioner Brad Bradford on fast tracking bus priority transit lanes on five critical suburban corridors. The corridors are in communities that are home to essential frontline workers and where dedicated bus lanes would help to ease overcrowding. The priority corridors included in the TTC’s Five-Year Service Plan are:
> Jane Street: from Eglinton Avenue to Steeles Avenue;
> Dufferin Street: from Dufferin Gate to Wilson Avenue;
> Steeles Avenue West: from Yonge Street to Pioneer Village Station;
> Finch Avenue East: from Yonge Street to McCowan Road; and
> Eglinton Avenue East/Kingston Road/Morningside Avenue: from Kennedy Station to University of Toronto Scarborough.

Board members also approved an amendment moved by Commissioner Jennifer McKelvie requesting staff to evaluate ridership as well as investigate the need and potential for priority transit measures on Lawrence Avenue East (east of Victoria Park Avenue to Rouge Hill Drive) and report back at the July 14 Board meeting.

These Board meeting highlights would not be complete if I didn’t congratulate and thank Kevin Lee for his more than 35 years of distinguished service. Kevin is saying goodbye to the TTC at the end of the month. Commissioners, employees and members of the public are very familiar with Kevin’s work as Director of Commission Services, and as the chief conductor and maestro of TTC Board meetings, both virtual and in-person. Kevin joined the TTC as a Customer Information Representative in 1985. He worked his way up to an Executive Communications role. In 2006, he moved into the General Secretary’s Office (now Commission Services) managing TTC records and freedom of information requests. Kevin has been in his current role since 2009, and we estimate with his virtually-perfect attendance that he’s orchestrated more than 120 Commission meetings.

Please join me in wishing Kevin a happy and well-deserved retirement!

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
June 26, 2020

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