Why the TTC deserves its award7/5/17 6:00 AM
The following is a column by CEO Andy Byford, which originally appeared in the Toronto Sun (print and online), July 4, 2017.
By Andy Byford
Some have mused recently about why the TTC deserves a transit system of the year award, not satisfied that maybe, just maybe, the TTC does a number of things quite well. Allow me, then, to enumerate the TTC’s many accomplishments over the past five years.
The reasons for our win are as numerous as they are compelling and validate both the vision we have for a better TTC and the hard work and dedication of our frontline employees.
In choosing the TTC over other worthy applicants, the American Public Transit Association stated that its choice reflected peer recognition of the ambition and execution of our five-year modernization plan, a staff-initiated program that has delivered multiple improvements over that period and one that has delivered a TTC that looks and feels quite different than half a decade ago.
Notwithstanding numerous challenges, new vehicles have entered service, a stunning subway extension will open in December, PRESTO smartcard has been rolled out, a new signalling system will be deployed from this fall and huge progress has been made to transform our culture and our service to be customer-led, more capable and more diverse.
We executed a flawless Pan Am Games transit plan, built a new world-class streetcar barn, delivered numerous accessibility programs, overhauled processes to be evermore efficient and added a second platform at Union Station, while maintaining service at one of our busiest locations.
Thanks to our wonderful and hard-working frontline employees, the system is cleaner, information is better and long-standing quality issues have been tackled. The number of short turns – long the curse of bus and streetcar riders – has been slashed, while subway delay minutes and delay incidents have been reduced.
We fought hard for, and won, increased subsidy to add service in 2015, for which we are grateful to Mayor John Tory and City Council.
But – as some have noted – the TTC remains the lowest funded major transit system in North America and this, too, was a factor in the TTC’s winning submission. Because it was in spite of this – and in the face of ongoing budgetary challenges – that we have delivered on such a wide scale.
Don’t take my word for all this; customer satisfaction, measured through quarterly surveys, has reached an all-time high as a result of all that we have done over the past five years to transform the TTC and to become a customer-led operation.
While there is, of course, still more to do, I wanted this award for the 14,000 men and women of the TTC – to thank them for five years of sustained effort and to acknowledge the hard work that they do in the face of relentless criticism and an environment where, disgracefully, they often face assault, just for doing their job.
As such, I am proud of our achievement and I am proud of my colleagues to whom I dedicate the award. It has given TTC staff a much-deserved lift that will inspire us to do better still as we continue our work to deliver a transit system that makes Toronto proud.
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