Statement by TTC CEO Andy Byford
November 21, 2017
Thank you, Chair.
Good morning everyone.
I am here today, with Chair Colle, to announce that I shall be leaving the TTC in mid-December, after six hugely enjoyable years, including the last five as CEO of this great company.
I have been offered - and accepted - the role of President and CEO of New York City Transit, one of the world's great transit systems and arguably the toughest job in transit right now. I very much look forward to taking up that challenge from mid-January of next year.
My last task in Toronto will be to deliver the opening of the long-awaited, spectacular, Line 1 subway extension to Vaughan in York Region, with its 8.6-kilometres of new track and six beautiful, Wi-Fi-, cell-, PRESTO-equipped stations. The extension will also feature the new, state-of-the-art signalling system that we have begun to roll out onto the existing Line 1.
I will look back on my time at the TTC as the absolute highlight of my 28-year transit career to date. When I arrived here in late 2011, there was a pressing need to inject a true customer ethos into how we delivered our service and to continue the great work of my predecessors to expand and improve transit in this city.
I saw enough in my first three months as Chief Operating Officer to convince me that job #1 for the TTC was to get exponentially better at delivery of what I call the basics - a relentless push to drive up standards of safety, cleanliness, punctuality and reliability across all five modes.
On assuming the CEO position in 2012, my focus turned to the strategic: what was needed was a top-to-bottom modernization of the TTC involving a comprehensive overhaul of its infrastructure, its processes and its culture. The vehicle for this transformation was the Five-Year Plan that we launched in 2013 with its bold vision of "A transit system that makes Toronto proud". In briefing that plan to TTC employees at more than 80 town halls, I knew that I could draw on their inherent pride and passion in the job to pull together and to up our game to get the TTC back to being number one in North America, something that I was convinced could be achieved within the currency of that plan.
Now, five years later, I believe we have achieved what we set out to do and we have done that as a team. While there will always be room to improve still further, the basic tenets of the service have been substantially improved with subway delay minutes down 21 per cent year-over-year, delay incidents down seven per cent, track fires - a major cause of delay - down 42 per cent and short turns, long the bane of bus and streetcar riders' lives, down nearly 90 per cent.
The system is cleaner, information is clearer and customers have noticed the difference. Over the last five years, customer satisfaction, as measured by independent surveys, has risen a statistically significant seven percentage points to record levels that are being sustained.
We have delivered substantial improvements in vehicle reliability, and we have tackled the difficult issues that should have been addressed years ago. Huge progress has been made on replacing and renewing swathes of track and on progressive replacement of a 60-year-old signal system. Automatic Train Control enables trains to run safely, closer together - and it will transform line capacity and service reliability once fully installed through to Finch by the end of 2019.
Inefficient and obsolescent back-of-house processes have been overhauled, work practices modernized and a modern smart card rolled out to finally replace tickets and tokens, a program that includes installation of modern paddle-style gates, that will soon allow payment by credit card and cell phone, and that will be completed in the course of next year.
We have modernized much of our fleet, with an all-Toronto-Rocket service now serving Line 1, worn out trains replaced on Line 2 and an all-accessible modern bus fleet with more new vehicles arriving daily.
Fifty new streetcars are now in service on Toronto streets - not as many as we need or want yet - but still enough to serve a quarter of the network. We built and opened a beautiful new streetcar barn that will serve the TTC well into the future, and we have made substantial progress toward achieving a fully accessible TTC by 2025.
Working with the City and Metrolinx, we have advanced the planning for much-needed expansion projects to serve a growing city and region, including the Relief Line, which I have always described as a top priority.
Four, four-year negotiated contracts were achieved with our unions in 2014, deals that provided security to our employees and that provided value for money to the city. To secure such deals in an interest-arbitration environment, that is, without being able to strike or be locked out with no loss of process, was a significant achievement.
The TTC has always been transparent in how it conducts its business, but that is truer now than ever. The monthly CEO Board Report has been overhauled to keep the public and stakeholders alike apprised of the up-to-date status of key projects and detailed analysis of operational performance. That same operational performance is reported out daily via Key Performance Indicators and we have transformed our public messaging via our YouTube channel, through social media and a completely refreshed marketing and information strategy.
Where difficult issues have needed to be aired, we own them, with clear, honest messaging - often delivered by me.
But what I am most proud of is what I would describe as my signature policy - that of changing the prevailing culture at the TTC. World-class service can only be delivered through a highly motivated, well-informed team that wants to succeed and that feels supported in their mission. We have put huge effort into changing the way we manage - focusing our attention on the vast majority of TTC employees that deliver great service day in and day out.
I have deliberately changed the face of the TTC. Five years ago - incredibly - there had never been a woman on the TTC Executive. Now, 50 per cent of my senior team are women, all on merit and both the Executive and the next two levels below are increasingly diverse. We have promoted talent from within and we have added bench strength where needed from outside.
In the same way that we have laid foundations for a more reliable TTC with our work to improve the infrastructure, we have also taken action to deliver a more capable TTC. Huge progress has been made on succession planning to equip the company with its future leaders. This includes development of leadership programs, completely refreshed management training and a graduate trainee program to attract the brightest and the best. A leader is only as good as their legacy and I believe that I leave behind a management team that is on a par with that found in any world-class transit system.
It was this refreshed and motivated TTC team that delivered a flawless, world-class transit plan for the 2015 Pan Am Games, and it is this same team that will deliver our stunning subway extension in just a few weeks' time. Back in 2015, I took personal carriage of this huge project, changing the way it was managed to ensure it would open this year and thereby staking my personal and professional reputation on meeting that commitment. That commitment will be met, the subway will open on December 17 and when it does, it will be the pride of North America.
Some challenges remain. Pressure must be maintained on Bombardier to deliver the new streetcars that Torontonians want and deserve. TTC ridership has risen by around 40 million on my watch, but an aggressive ridership growth strategy must be embraced to resume that upward trajectory. That strategy - and the TTC's next Five-Year Plan - will go before the Board early in the new year.
On what is a very poignant day, I would like to close by thanking Mayor Tory, Chair Colle and Chairs Augimeri and Stintz before him, in trusting me to run the TTC and in giving me the honour of being its CEO. I also acknowledge and thank my Board, City Council and the other orders of government for the increased financial support that we fought for and won, in recent years, support that has enabled us to add service and that has seen unprecedented capital investment in the TTC.
I would like to acknowledge and thank ACAT, our Advisory Committee for Accessible Transit, for their advice and support as we have worked toward making the TTC fully accessible. And I would like to thank the TTC's customers for bearing with us while we worked to modernize the system, a task that will continue for some time yet.
I am hugely proud of my Executive, my wonderful office team and wider management group for their hard work, their friendship and support in what is often a thankless, relentless task. I know that this team is perfectly placed to now take the TTC to the next level with a new Five-Year Plan already prepared so that they can hit the ground running in 2018.
But as I prepare to say goodbye in just four weeks, and before my wife, Alison, and I head to New York, I want to save my final thank you for the near 15,000 men and women of the TTC. The frontline staff of this company are the ones that really make the difference. They are the decent, loyal Canadians whose hard work has delivered the achievements of the past five years.
So it is to TTC employees that I dedicate the final achievement of our Five-Year Plan. That we achieved our objective of getting back to being number one by winning the 2017 APTA Outstanding Transit System of the Year, in spite of myriad challenges, is testament to the hard work, dedication to duty and passion of my colleagues and for that, they should hold their heads very high indeed.
For the next four weeks, it's business as usual as we focus on getting the Line 1 extension ready for opening and as we finalize the 2018 budget. I will answer a few questions once Chair Colle has spoken, but after that, I must focus on these priorities so I will hold off any sit-down interviews until December when the extension is up and running.
Thank you; I will now invite Chair Colle to say a few words.
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