Editorial Archive

A Message from the Chair and the CEO

9/22/12 7:29 AM

The following is a joint editorial by TTC Chair Karen Stintz and CEO Andy Byford, which originally appeared in The Sunday Sun (Sept. 23); first posted in The Sun online (Sept. 22).

Since December 2010, Toronto Transit Commission employees and management have striven for the culture change our customers have asked for, through both controlled costs and improved service.

The TTC said late last year as it was preparing its 2012 budget that it would review all cost-saving options, including contracting out some aspects of the business and re-organizing how the TTC delivers service to its customers. As a result, the Commission’s organizational structure was reviewed. More than 200 non-unionized jobs were eliminated in that process, which included the elimination of management positions for an annual go-forward savings of $16 million.

This difficult but necessary task continues. The TTC has already successfully contracted out its garbage collection and washroom cleaning. This has resulted in significant savings.

On Thursday, a staff report to the Commission will recommend contracting out the routine cleaning of our city’s TTC buses. Our collective agreement includes provisions for such contracting out. It is important to note that all employees affected by contracting out would still have jobs at the TTC, as the collective agreement stipulates. The savings, over a period of time, will result in annual savings of $4.2 million.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 had the opportunity to bid on this cleaning contract. However, the Union’s proposal didn’t meet the TTC’s needs in terms of cost-savings and quality of work when compared with what a third party was offering.

The TTC remains focused on its core business – transit service – so that it can maintain and improve service levels. We are hiring drivers for that core business. The routine cleaning and servicing of buses is not core to our business.

There are varied opinions on the merits of contracting out, but most will agree that sensible cost savings must be achieved wherever possible. It is expected of, and incumbent upon, the public service to consider alternatives to doing non-core work in-house if cost-savings, combined with improved quality, can be achieved.

It’s not news to Toronto to hear that the TTC has limited fiscal resources at its disposal. The Commission knows those resources come from every single one of you, through TTC fares and property taxes, whether you own or rent your home.

The Commission acts with a view to doing what is best for the system as a whole because our commitment is to TTC customers. This goal is shared by City Council, the Commission and TTC Staff.

Our riders face ever increasing pressures on their household budgets. So does the City. Other levels of government provide only minimal operational support to the TTC. The Commission must do everything it can to keep its costs under control and its fares reasonable. Taxpayer money must be managed effectively, for all of us.

We need to steadily and predictably improve TTC service for Torontonians. Our ridership has grown over our projections and we will keep up with demand. We demonstrated this earlier this month when we increased service on 34 TTC routes across Toronto.

It was Oscar Wilde who opined about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Everything, of course, has a cost. But we believe it is more important than ever to stay focused on what is core – of the greatest value, if you will – and that is exemplary transit service to the people of Toronto. In short, delivering a reliable, clean and increasingly modern TTC to Torontonians is a core value of the TTC’s.

We are immensely proud and supportive of the 12,000 men and women who work for North America’s third largest transit system. The TTC remains one of the safest, most efficient transit systems in the world. We’re in the midst of an ambitious transit expansion plan; we’re rolling out a new fleet of beautiful, new subway trains – the Toronto Rocket; and in 2014, new low-floor, modern, streetcars.

Contracting out some of the work we do will not result in job losses for employees. What it will do, however, is ensure the TTC remains focused on its core mission of delivering a transit system that makes Toronto proud.

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