Editorial Archive

CEO’s Report – February commentary

Commission seal 2/22/20 5:31 PM

I would like to begin my commentary with a big welcome to the new members of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT). Welcome to: Carmen Galvan, Debbie Gillespie, Sean Hollingsworth, Angela Marley and Mahendan Sivabalasundaram. I would also like to say congratulations to Mazin Aribi on his re-election as Chair last month.

ACAT is comprised of dedicated citizens who advise the TTC on the needs and concerns of seniors and people with disabilities travelling on the system as well as provide guidance on the elimination of barriers to accessible public transit. The committee meets in public generally on the last Thursday of every month at TTC Head Office.

Each year the TTC supports a variety of inclusive and cultural functions across the organization that are reflective of the communities we serve every single day.

February is Black History Month and for the last few years TTC employees at our Mount Dennis bus division have celebrated the many amazing contributions that Canadians of African descent have made in our city.

Some of the festivities that take place at the division throughout the day include dance, music, special readings and, of course, there’s always lots of great food. I’m incredibly proud of the volunteers, division management and union representatives that come together to support this annual event.

Black History is on full display throughout February at many wonderful venues, such as City Hall, Fort York and the Toronto Public Library. They are all easy to find at Toronto.ca and the TTC is the best way to explore the many exhibits and events that our great city has to offer.

TTC employees have recently submitted an application to start the first international chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO).

COMTO is an organization that develops and advocates for its members by helping to foster barrier-free access to career advancement opportunities within the transportation industry for all people of racialized and marginalized groups, so they may have long, productive careers in which their voices are welcomed, valued and respected.

Once the chapter is approved by COMTO, the COMTO Toronto and Region Board members will be reaching out within the TTC; eventually expanding to other transportation agencies and organizations within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. It is important that we learn from each other and provide opportunities for those marginalized and racialized persons within the transportation industry.

In 2018, we launched our Five-Year Corporate Plan. One of the initiatives is to transform for high efficiency in our quest for financial sustainability.

Through this plan, we identified the need to conduct a transformation and service optimization review.

I am pleased to share with you that we have launched our transformational review, which will consist of a comprehensive look at the services we provide, to understand what we can do to become more efficient and to improve the quality of service for our customers. As well, we are looking at where we can better leverage partnerships.

With the help of a task force consisting of TTC employees and esteemed members of the business and academic communities, we will work to help secure the TTC’s role in providing reliable service in the city of Toronto.

The new year began with a major test of our emergency readiness in the subway. In the early morning hours on January 12, TTC staff conducted an emergency evacuation of a train with 280 people on board. The mock exercise took place on Line 1, between Finch and North York Centre stations.

The goal of this emergency simulation was to improve readiness, inter-agency co-operation, individual performance, test evacuation procedures, and most importantly, identify opportunities for improvement.

I’d like to thank all TTC staff involved as well as our partners and participants: Toronto Fire Service, Toronto Office of Emergency Management, students from George Brown College and the University of Toronto, members of ACAT, volunteers from Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, Metrolinx staff and Councillor John Filion and his team for their support.

Starting in March, our Safety and Environment Department will be reporting to the Board data on inspection orders of TTC properties issued by Toronto Fire Services (TFS). The information will appear in the Order Compliance Chart in the Safety and Security section of the CEO’s Report.

Last year, we saw a significant increase in the number of interactions with TFS. Our Safety and Environment Department reported more than 100 interactions with TFS Prevention staff in 2019 compared to an average of about 30 annual interactions in previous years.

The increase was attributed partly to the Auditor General’s investigation into the City of Toronto’s Fire and Life Safety Inspections and Reports in 2018. Several recommendations were brought forward to help City staff understand their legal responsibilities under the Ontario Fire Code.

The TTC’s Fire and Life Safety team has revised its processes to streamline the gathering and reporting of legislative inspection records. Safety staff has also developed a 30- and 60-day follow-up process to enhance its already robust annual property audits to deliver a top-notch Fire and Life Safety Program.

We are committed to delivering a 5-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Fare Collection Outlook, which will be used to form a comprehensive and integrated fare strategy. The 5-Year Fare Policy will address all aspects of fares, including products, structure and pricing. The 10-Year Fare Collection Outlook will ensure collection technology enables us to achieve our policy goals. Its first step will be issuing a Board-directed Fare Collection Request for Information.

We have developed a scope of work for both the fare policy and collection outlook, and will procure consulting services for each piece. We will issue two request for proposals by the end of February.

In response to the City Auditor General Report on fare evasion, the TTC developed a system-wide awareness campaign to remind customers of the importance of paying their fare.

Last month, we began to roll out a new phase of the campaign. It involves a new series of subway posters and public address announcements, online postings and three wrapped streetcars, which started appearing in service this month.

We understand that transit isn’t affordable for everyone. That’s why we continue to work with the City of Toronto on expanding its Fair Pass Discount Program, which provides discounted TTC fares for low-income families.

The TTC takes a tough, but fair approach to the issue of fare evasion. After all, this is lost revenue that we can invest to improve our service. Revenue to keep your system running frequently and effectively, day and night.

I’ve seen first-hand the challenges faced by our Fare Inspectors and Special Constables. They do a great job and we will support our frontline staff in their efforts to protect our assets and revenue, as well as protect honest, hard-working customers who rely on us to get them from A to B every single day.

As I’ve stated before, it’s my belief that our deployment strategy – and campaigns to remind everyone that we’re watching – will reduce evasion. We know where evasion is most prevalent, and we will be taking action.

The TTC’s Audit, Risk and Compliance Department’s Fare Evasion Study, and the Revenue Protection Strategy, will be presented to the Board in February.

There’s another important campaign appearing in the system. This one highlights all of the service improvements that we’ve been busy implementing to enhance the customer journey.

Better on-time departures. Reduced short turns. New signalling. New streetcars. New electric buses. The campaign stresses what can be achieved with new investments.

Posters are prominently featured in our meeting room at City Hall and I’d like to thank all our Commissioners who added valued insight and suggestions over the past year to help us enhance these campaigns.

The procurement of new, accessible streetcars continues to be a major transformational initiative. With the new fleet there was a need to modernize maintenance facilities, infrastructure (platforms, track and overhead), maintenance work order systems, and the way the TTC maintains and operates the vehicles. New processes, procedures and training have been, and continue to be, introduced and refined.

On January 24, the 204th new streetcar was delivered, marking a major milestone for the city of Toronto. With the exception of one streetcar, which was returned for weld repairs before it was fully commissioned, all streetcars ordered are scheduled to be commissioned for revenue service this month.

TTC staff is now focused on the next steps of this contract. Over the next four years, this will include completing all outstanding vehicle modification programs, addressing warranty items and strengthening the inventory supply chain.

As part of these activities, Bombardier has commenced the Major Repair Program (MRP) where up to seven streetcars are in the queue at its plant in La Pocatiere, Quebec at any given time for re-weld. With the MRP, warranty work and soon-to-commence installation of the VISION system on the new fleet, the TTC has been maintaining a spare ratio of 25 per cent. Staff expect the maintenance spare ratio to reduce as these programs are addressed.

Data being collected from the in-service vehicles will be used to develop and refine preventative maintenance programs, including inspections, state-of-good-repair activities and vehicle overhauls.

Given the recent announcement between Bombardier and Alstom, the TTC will be working with both companies to ensure they honour their commitments to us.

At our April Board meeting, we will present some exciting work being done to modernize and better integrate our customer analytics program. Our goal is to gain a more holistic understanding of our customers to inform how we can best meet their needs through the planning and operating of our service.

We will have findings from our Customer Satisfaction Survey and an analysis of our Customer Relationship Management system, which we use to manage and keep track of complaints, suggestions and inquiries.

We will also be sharing a progress update on a new customer engagement initiative. This spring, we will be launching a beta version of an online customer engagement community.

In the past, the TTC has worked with the Customer Liaison Panel (CLP), a diverse, 12-person group of customers that met monthly to advise on various initiatives and share their perspectives. While the CLP has provided invaluable insight over the years, transitioning to an online platform will allow us to engage with a more representative group of customers, and also provide the flexibility to reach out to specific groups when needed.

The community will be an interactive space where customers can share ideas, provide input on TTC initiatives and ultimately help shape their transit system and the customer experience. The potential is tremendous and I can’t wait to share more details in April.

The TTC is working with the City of Toronto to assess the five priority corridors for exclusive bus lanes identified in our 5-Year Service Plan & 10-Year Outlook.

A high-level assessment to establish the priorities for the five corridors is in progress. It includes the feasibility of various solutions on each corridor as well as broader City policy goals and objectives, such as safety and equity.

We will share the results of the assessment with the Board in April.

Last December, Wheel-Trans introduced a new, friendlier, self-service website for customers to book their trips, including Family of Services trips. As part of the Wheel-Trans Transformation Program, this improvement provided continuous, dynamic scheduling to account for changes in trip booking.

An important new feature of the next release is a self-service mobile app that allows Wheel-Trans riders to book and track their trips using their mobile devices. However, its introduction has been delayed due to quality issues in the solution provided by the vendor.

Wheel-Trans staff are working with the vendor to re-baseline the project and target a Q2 2020 release of the mobile app. We will announce the revised dates once they become available.

Looking ahead to 2021, Wheel-Trans plans to re-evaluate its requirements for on-demand transit by consulting with stakeholders, including ACAT, and conducting an assessment of peer agencies.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
February 2020

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