Editorial Archive

Modern maintenance practices key to improved TTC service reliability

9/12/14 6:00 AM

In previous columns, I have described the steps that the TTC is taking to modernize its vehicle fleet and to upgrade critical infrastructure as part of our commitment to provide better service.

While the introduction of new streetcars, buses and subway cars is an important part of this process and while we must continue to replace obsolescent track, signals and other parts of infrastructure, it is equally important to get exponentially better at the way we maintain existing equipment to minimize the risk of failure and drive up the reliability of your service.

A key change to our processes is to move from a fix-upon-failure method (reactive) to one of reliability-centred (proactive) maintenance. This method is well-proven in other transit systems and uses data to determine when maintenance should take place to prevent failures from happening in the first place.

At present, our bus fleet suffers from a level of in-service breakdowns that is higher than the industry norm – largely because we try to put as many of our buses onto the road at the busiest periods to service ever-rising numbers of riders. My view is that this is meaningless if the bus does not actually get to its destination due to breakdown – it makes more sense to increase the overall reliability of the fleet and ultimately increase the number of buses on the road.

Starting this fall, we will embark upon a proactive, high-intensity bus maintenance program to clear a backlog of repairs and to increase the overall reliability of our fleet. Our revised approach is based upon good practice that we have imported from our colleagues at Metrobus in St. Louis, which is part of a wider strategy to embrace new ideas and proven techniques from around the world.

This new methodology is not just focused on buses. A more proactive approach is being applied streetcar maintenance, as well as on critical elements of our subway system and the Scarborough RT. Switches, escalators and signals are just three examples of components that we are maintaining more aggressively.

Tomorrow (Sept. 13), we are opening up one of our primary maintenance facilities to showcase the skills of our workforce and the quality of their work. We invite you to come to Harvey and Duncan Shops at Hillcrest to see, firsthand, the efforts we are making to make your journey more reliable and to deliver a transit system that makes Toronto proud.

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