Editorial

CEO’s Report – November commentary

Commission seal 10 November, 2020

As the Chief Executive Officer of the TTC, diversity and inclusion are key priorities for me and the reason that we’re conducting an executive search for the newly created position of Chief Diversity and Culture Officer. The creation of this new role demonstrates our organization’s commitment to addressing systemic issues within the company; to represent and be a leader in the communities we serve; and to continue to promote a culture of respect, equity and fairness.

The Chief Diversity and Culture Officer will oversee all policies, programs and practices addressing anti-Black racism, diversity and inclusion as well as recruitment and outreach.

Since September, Gemma Piemontese (formerly Chief People Officer) has been serving as the TTC’s Interim Chief Diversity and Culture Officer, and has been instrumental in advancing this new role while the organization recruits for the position. Megan MacRae (formerly Executive Director of Human Resources) has assumed the role of Acting Chief People Officer in the meantime.

In December, TTC staff will be bringing forward a report on Diversity and Human Rights achievements at the TTC. This will include the TTC’s five-year Diversity and Human Rights Strategic Plan (2019-2023). The 10-point action plan is titled “Embrace Diversity” and it aims to embed diversity and inclusion in every facet of the TTC by:
> Attracting and developing a more diverse and qualified workforce;
> Building a respectful and inclusive workplace culture;
> Providing continuous education on human rights, accessibility, diversity and inclusion; and
> Enhancing the delivery of programs and services to meet the needs of our diverse customer and employee base.

The TTC has made many achievements in diversity and inclusion. However, in some areas, progress has been slow. For example, as of 2019, just 16 per cent of employees at the TTC identified as women, compared to the Toronto census benchmark of 48.7 per cent.

While the representation of women varies across the TTC’s occupational groups, the 10-point action plan will outline specific actions that the TTC will take to increase overall diversity and to remove barriers.

I’m looking forward to speaking at a virtual information session to recruit women candidates for the transit operator position on November 24. I’ll be joined by several employees who will be sharing their career experiences as women working at the TTC. I encourage everyone to get more information about the session at ttc.ca/join.

Safety
While we’ve been able to advance major capital projects, accessibility construction and subway maintenance during this period of reduced ridership, the safety of our employees has always been – and will continue to be – the top priority. All workers have a personal and shared responsibility to prevent workplace injury and illness. Safety is a core value of our organization.

The TTC’s Safety Executive Committee and myself conducted a field visit on October 16 to hear from various crews on the night shift. The purpose of the tour was to engage and support our workers and listen to their opinions about improving the TTC safety culture.

Fort Monaco, Chief Infrastructure and Engineering Officer, and his team organized four different sessions in the Subway Infrastructure work group. Abiding by all COVID-19 protocols, several unionized and non-unionized employees met at length to talk about improving the safety culture. Following the meetings was a field visit to trackside to witness some of the night work taking place.

The Safety Executive spoke to crews from subway track, electrical, signals and structures. It was an excellent opportunity for senior management to hear personal and candid opinions from workers, which is an essential element for a robust workplace safety culture.

We came away with many observations, recommendations and suggestions for improving: training, communications, rules and regulations, cleanliness, protection from COVID-19 and overall workplace safety in a variety of areas, such as air quality, PPE, work zones and work cars. The field trip helped to clarify some of the safety challenges employees face and what can be done to reduce exposure in the workplace. We’ve committed to report back to crews on the status of action plans for improvements.

Safety-Before-Production is not just a motto, but a core value at the TTC. It expresses our ultimate goal for an injury-free workplace, and for ensuring that every employee returns home in the same condition they arrived for their work shift – morning, noon or night.

PRESTO
I’d like to take this opportunity to provide an update on PRESTO and the continued modernization of fare collection at the TTC. We’re working to finalize new business terms with Metrolinx-PRESTO through the Settlement Agreement process targeted for completion in January 2021.

PRESTO will pilot Open Payment on the UP Express in 2021, and we’re working to roll out a similar pilot, which PRESTO has targeted for the TTC in 2023.

In parallel, we’ll be supporting and co-approving PRESTO’s procurement program for new back-end fare collection technology and service providers. This program has the potential to replace the current single contract, which is set to expire in October 2022.

Looking further ahead, our current base term agreement with PRESTO expires as early as November 2027. At that point, the TTC may choose to enter into its own contract with a fare collection service provider. The Board-directed Fare Collection Request for Information (RFI) is the first step to inform our planning to secure our own fare collection provider by 2027. The RFI will help us gather further insights about service providers and technologies being used by other transit providers across the globe.

All of these important activities, work streams and deliverables will be informed by our 5-Year Fare Policy and 10-Year Collection Outlook, which we kicked off in October.

A Board report next January will detail the overall PRESTO program of activities.

RapidTO
In last month’s CEO’s Report commentary, I provided an update on the formal launch of RapidTO bus lanes along the Eglinton East corridor on October 9. I’m pleased to report that the Morningside Avenue portion is fully completed. Red paint application on the Kingston Road portion is also completed in both directions. And red paint is being applied to the roadway on Eglinton Avenue; this daytime work will continue for the next few weeks.

When compared to October 2019 data, the first week of implementation saw transit-travel time improve by about 12 per cent on the corridor. When compared to the week prior to implementation, the corridor experienced a six-to-seven per cent transit-travel time improvement.

It’s important to note that the priority lanes are still in the early stages of operation, and that the 8.5-km length of new priority lanes are yet to be fully implemented.

Bus priority lanes remain a fast, frequent and safe option for customers who are relying on our services during the pandemic.

Streetcar Infrastructure
In order to maximize the operation of the new accessible streetcar fleet, the TTC has been upgrading the overhead wire system that feeds power to the streetcar network.

The Overhead Contact System comprises nearly 90 kilometres of wire crisscrossing the downtown, and covering our streetcar yards, and modernizing it from a system designed for trolley pole use to industry-standard pantograph technology is a state-of-good-repair project of massive proportions.

The conversion has required a complex, multi-phased program to allow streetcar operations to continue uninterrupted using a mixed fleet of both new, low-floor streetcars and legacy streetcars, the last of which were retired at the end of 2019. The old streetcars used an antiquated trolley pole to draw power from the overhead wires while the new fleet uses use a pantograph system with higher energy throughput.

The first phase of upgrading the overhead system had to allow for dual current collection. In other words, both poles and pantographs needed to draw electrical power from the overhead system as we upgraded streetcar routes. The second and final conversion phase will allow for pantograph use only.

To date, our overhead crews have upgraded more than 80 per cent of the overhead network, with 50 per cent of all streetcar routes commissioned for pantograph mode. In the last two years, we’ve accelerated the last phase of exclusive pantograph mode on three routes totaling 26 kilometres, or nearly 30 per cent of all streetcar routes.

The TTC will stay on an accelerated replacement schedule over the next four years. Staff are working in co-ordination with City, Hydro and other TTC track projects in an effort to minimize any adverse impacts to our customers and the public at large.

Pending budget approval, the current proposed schedule will have the entire network capable of exclusively operating on pantograph by Q1 2025, at which time we’ll realize the full benefits of the pantograph technology.

And just a final reminder that the last scheduled virtual Board meeting of the year takes place on Tuesday, December 15.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
November 2020

Published in the CEO’s Report, which can be found on the TTC intranet and ttc.ca.

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