Editorial Archive

CEO’s Report – October commentary

Commission seal 10/16/20 3:00 PM

The TTC is the primary mode of travel for a great many people in Toronto. While the subway remains the backbone of the system, our bus fleet has shown us during the pandemic what we’ve always known to be true: it’s the real workhorse in our city’s transit network. Of the 525 million customers we carried in 2019, 60 per cent took bus trips – the largest total by vehicle mode.

Bus priority lanes provide an important pathway in the City’s recovery efforts and for ensuring the surface transit network remains a fast, frequent and safe option for a growing number of riders who are relying on our services during the pandemic. That’s why I was delighted to join Mayor John Tory, Commissioner McKelvie as well as Councillors Thompson, Ainslie and Crawford in formally launching RapidTO bus lanes along the Eglinton East corridor on October 9.

Dedicated bus lanes along Eglinton Avenue East/KingstonRoad/Morningside Avenue, from Kennedy Station to U of T Scarborough and Centennial College’s Morningside campuses at Ellesmere and Military Trail, are providing an immediate benefit for the 56,000 customers who used this corridor daily before the pandemic, many of whom continue to use the TTC today.

A total of 10 bus routes are taking advantage of the new lanes, including: 905 Eglinton East Express, 116 Morningside, 86 Scarborough and 986 Scarborough Express.

Eglinton East is the first of several corridors proposed in the TTC’s Five-Year Service Plan. In total, these corridors have a combined pre-COVID-19 ridership of about 220,000 daily customers, who we will continue to do public consultation with in the coming months:
> Jane Street from Eglinton Avenue West to Steeles Avenue West.
> Dufferin Street from Dufferin Gate to Wilson Avenue.
> Steeles Avenue West from Yonge Street to Pioneer Village Subway Station.
> Finch Avenue East from Yonge Street to McCowan Road.
> Lawrence East (East of Victoria Park to Rouge Hills Drive).

These types of investments go a long way to enhancing the customer experience and preserving the quality of life in our great city. Continuous improvements to public transit services are the direct result of investment by the TTC Board and City, coupled with TTC management actions to improve performance and service reliability.

Service Integration
The TTC’s 5-Year Service Plan and 10-Year Outlook identified a 20-point action plan, including Action 5.1 Expand Service Integration. There are more than 40 regional routes connecting to TTC stations and six routes that the TTC operates into York Region and Mississauga. These routes provide approximately 75 network connections between the TTC and MiWay, Brampton Transit, York Region Transit/Viva, Durham Region Transit and GO Transit.

The TTC is exploring opportunities with neighbouring municipal transit agencies to improve service for TTC customers that either start or end their trip outside of Toronto. These opportunities will result in simplified service, enhanced connections and operating efficiencies. The technical analysis is underway and business case assessments are expected to be substantially complete by year end.

The TTC also continues to participate in Metrolinx fare and service integration roundtable discussions with regional partners.

Subway Infrastructure
One of the areas our Operations and Infrastructure teams will be tackling over the next several years is managing Line 3 Scarborough while work on the Line 2 East extension continues. The Scarborough RT entered revenue service in 1985. After 35 years of continuous operation, the SRT vehicles remain with us 10 years past their design life of 25 years. Due to the age of the vehicles, obsolescence of key parts is becoming critical and SRT vehicles are becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain. Overall reliability continues to degrade with equipment failures resulting in more frequent and unscheduled service interruptions, which can impact service levels.

To ensure reliable transit service is maintained until the Line 2 extension enters service, various options are being assessed, including initiating an overhaul program to further extend the life of SRT vehicles or replacing the SRT service with bus replacement service using new buses to meet the transit service need along the SRT corridor until the extension is completed.

We will be bringing a report and business case to the Board next month outlining our recommendation.

In August, TTC customers using PRESTO started receiving prorated credits for unused portions of their March and April monthly passes. Giving our most loyal riders a reimbursement for not being able to fully use their passes during the outset of the pandemic was an important consideration in providing some financial relief during a very difficult time.

As of October 13, 68 per cent of cardholders picked up their credit. In order to ensure customers pick up their credits before the end of November, both Metrolinx and the TTC will e-mail reminders to registered customers and initiate awareness campaigns to remind customers to tap their card at any PRESTO device (including MPOS devices at Shoppers Drug Mart stores) and keep checking their account balance.

If the credit does not appear by mid-December after having tapped their card at a PRESTO device, customers are asked to contact the TTC Customer Service Centre.

With the TTC Board’s approval, face coverings were made mandatory on the TTC on July 2, with certain exemptions for persons unable to wear a mask for medical reasons. At that time, the TTC committed to distributing one million non-medical masks to TTC customers in need of a face covering to support access as part of a COVID-19 public health and education campaign.

From July to September, half-a-million masks were distributed in partnership with the City of Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Office to TTC customers in the community, with a focus on neighbourhood improvement areas. In parallel, another 400,000 masks were handed out in stations, at bus and streetcar stops, and to Wheel-Trans customers. TTC audits have recorded a high rate of compliance by customers, with 97 per cent observed to be wearing face coverings and 88 per cent wearing them properly over the nose, mouth and chin.

Approximately 68,000 masks are remaining and these will be distributed in stations by Collectors, Customer Service Agents, Transit Special Constables, Revenue Protection staff and Wheel-Trans Operators. Masks will continue to be available for customers upon request at Station Hubs and the Customer Service Centre above Davisville Station. The remaining batch of masks will be circulated in stations this month, and on Wheel-Trans into the new year.

Winter preparations are already underway at the TTC to get us ready for those heavy snow and extreme cold days that lie ahead. Winter readiness begins with several operational tabletop exercises to ensure that our staff, primarily in the Control Centre, are ready to respond to different active weather scenarios to ensure that we can provide dependable service.

Subway and Surface crews have annual checklists of activities that are undertaken.  Items include:
> Subway line inspections and repairs to heating equipment.
> Subway yard trackside heating checks.
> Snow fence installation in yards and mainline stretches. Switch heater element and infrastructure replacement and trailing switch installations at Leslie Barns.
> Leaf cleanup along tracks and tree pruning in the open cuts.

With thousands of revenue and non-revenue vehicles in our fleets, annual maintenance checklists involve some of the following components:
> Heating system (cab, passenger and door threshold heaters inspection and testing).
> Cab defroster (inspection and testing).
> HVAC filter (cleaning and replacement).
> Ramp system (cleaning, testing and lubrication).
> Windshield wipers and fluid top ups.
> Pneumatic system (air dryers’ desiccant replacement, filter change and testing).
> Installation of winter tires on articulated buses.
> Installation of anti-icing tanks on T1 and TR storm trains.
> Testing of auxiliary equipment (i.e. plows, snow throwers and salting equipment on pickup trucks, dump trucks and rail workcars).

TTC ridership continues to remain fairly stable. As of the first week of October, average weekday ridership decreased slightly to 626,000 carried. There continues to be variation in customer boardings by mode. Bus boardings have increased to 50 per cent of normal while streetcar and subway boardings both dipped to 36 per cent of normal and to 32 per cent of normal, respectively.

The safety of our customers and employees remains a pillar for the TTC and we’ll continue to monitor trends and provide a demand-responsive service on the busiest routes across the network in order to deploy the capacity where it’s needed most.

And finally, just a reminder that last month Commissioners approved extending virtual Board meetings into 2021. The remaining two scheduled virtual meetings in 2020 will take place on Monday, November 16 and Tuesday, December 15.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
October 2020

Published in the CEO’s Report, which can be found on the TTC intranet and ttc.ca. 

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