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Office of the Chief Executive

Commission seal 5/19/20 3:30 PM

Highlights from the TTC Board’s May 13 Special Meeting

The first virtual meeting of the TTC Board on May 13 saw the election of a new Vice-Chair. Congratulations to Commissioner Joanne De Laurentiis. Her selection to the seat was unanimous. And thanks to Alan Heisey for his service as Vice-Chair. He continues to serve as a Commissioner. The TTC Vice-Chair must be a citizen member approved by a vote of the TTC Board.

It was my privilege to congratulate Chief Capital Officer Susan Reed Tanaka on her 30th anniversary with the TTC this month. At the same time, we all wished her a happy retirement, which Susan will begin at the end of May.

Susan joined the TTC in 1990 and has held many progressively responsible positions throughout her career, including Head of Engineering. She has been our Chief Capital Officer since 2015.

In a long line of outstanding chief engineers that have designed and built transit in Toronto in the course of our 99-year history, Susan stands tall among them as our first female chief builder, and for her unparalleled skillset and passion for the TTC.

Deputy CEO Kirsten Watson introduced a comprehensive presentation on the TTC’s response during the coronavirus pandemic. Kirsten has been the architect of our COVID-19 strategy. She has planned and spearheaded all aspects of operations during this crisis, and we’re very fortunate to have her as Deputy CEO.

Betty Hasserjian, Mark Mis, Josie La Vita and Gemma Piemontese presented an overview of the TTC’s safety decisions and initiatives; impacts on ridership and revenue as well as cost containment efforts; and tactics to manage overcrowding issues under physical distancing restrictions.

Despite the pandemic having a devastating impact on transit services, we’re still moving hundreds of thousands of customers daily, as safely and effectively as possible during a declared state of emergency.

Currently, our plan is to maintain the service changes we have in place over the next couple of months. We’ve scheduled service in a flexible way so that we can scale up on short notice, if required. Service Planning is working on a formal scaling up of service using different scenarios to match service to demand as the provincial government gradually re-opens the economy.

Commissioners approved the presentation and a report outlining the preliminary financial impacts of COVID-19. The report includes the following recommendations:
> Endorse the expenditure of unbudgeted funds required for COVID-19 response activities, currently estimated to be in the order of $15.4 million, until Labour Day.
> Endorse the TTC’s cost containment strategy, noting that even with the implementation of these measures, operating emergency funding currently estimated at a minimum of $300 million will be required.
> Endorse the workforce realignment strategy as outlined in a confidential attachment (this portion of the meeting was held in camera to discuss personnel matters).
> Approve a net reduction of $208.1 million to the TTC’s 2020 Approved Capital Budget, and a reduction of $117.5 million to the 2020-2029 Capital Budget and Plan.
> The CEO provide regular updates to the TTC Board on the financial impacts estimates due to changes in assumptions and plans arising from recovery events, and specifically when the 30-per-cent ridership capacity benchmark is met.

Commissioners also approved a number of motions requesting the TTC Chair and/or CEO:
> Continue the implementation of the customer communications strategy regarding safety measures on the TTC, and emphasize messaging that supports Toronto Public Health advice strongly recommending the wearing of a face covering where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
> Immediately engage the Province of Ontario, Toronto Public Health, the City’s Office of Recovery and Rebuild and peer transit agencies on the legal, operational, safety and financial implications of mandatory face coverings for customers on public transit, and to take any further measures appropriate to ensure the safety of customers and employees on the system.
> That the TTC Chair, CEO and the Union (ATU Local 113) jointly communicate in writing to all three orders of government to develop a TTC funding model that reduces our reliance on the farebox to support our day-to-day operating expense, making the TTC less vulnerable in the current pandemic crisis, and more sustainable overall to support the recovery of the nation’s largest local economy.

TTC staff have been working with peer transit agencies, the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the Ontario Public Transit Association on presenting the impact of the pandemic on transit ridership and revenues across the country, and impressing senior levels of government on the importance of public transit in moving essential workers and for the successful re-opening of the economy.

These efforts have complimented the City of Toronto’s and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ efforts in seeking federal funding support for municipalities.

A full report on the TTC’s Recovery Plan is scheduled to be before the Board at its June meeting.

At the special meeting, Commissioners received the 2019 TTC Special Constable Service Annual Report and the 2019 Annual Report – Public Complaints Involving Special Constables and Fare Inspectors. The latter report provides information on customer complaints received last year involving Special Constables and Fare Inspectors, and outlines enhancements made to the public complaint process. On this item, Commissioners moved the following motions requesting that:
> The annual report must include a breakdown of numbers of items, by complaint type, that were internally investigated and those that were externally investigated.
> All matters that are flagged for external investigation become numbered cases, reported directly to the Board upon being designated as such, and that the resolution of each case be reported directly to the Board.
> The CEO report back by Q4 2020 with a status update on the proposed Investigation Unit to receive and investigate customer complaints, and applying both the Transit Enforcement Code of Conduct and the applicable TTC Corporate Policies.

People have been asking when will the TTC be at 100 per cent again and what will that look like? There are a number of factors that will determine that – many are out of the TTC’s control – but we are working closely with the City’s new Office of Recovery and Rebuild to understand what the coming weeks and months will look like.

If one thing is certain it’s that COVID-19 has brought with it many questions and many uncertainties. And while we may not have all the answers that the Board and the public are asking the TTC today, I assured Commissioners that staff are working hard on many fronts and at many tables to gather all the facts required to make the most informed decisions that are ahead of us.

I stressed, as well, how grateful I am to every single employee for their efforts. These last few months have been like nothing we’ve ever experienced, and yet everyone has stepped up to prove, time and time again, that TTC people are our greatest asset.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
May 19, 2020

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