Editorial Archive

CEO Update for the week of October 1, 2012

10/9/12 12:54 PM

Andy’s TTCast – October 5, 2012

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Hi everyone, this is Andy Byford with a reflection on recent events and issues here at the TTC. It’s been a while since my last podcast as this has been an incredibly busy few weeks.

The tragic death of Peter Pavlovski cast a huge shadow over the TTC and has affected many people in different ways. I was determined that we would honour Peter’s memory with the respect and dignity that he deserved, and I think we achieved that with an amazing turn out by his TTC colleagues at both the visitation and the funeral service. The investigations into the accident are well under way and I am committed to getting you an explanation about what happened as soon as that is available. As I said at the time, we will take whatever action is necessary to address any lessons learnt as we seek to continuously improve our safety record and the well-being of our employees.

On a happier note, we have just taken delivery of the first of our new, low-floor streetcars.  This test vehicle is now at Hillcrest where it will be checked over and readied for testing in coming months. The media and transit enthusiasts were very excited by this new arrival and it shows that before long, our streetcar Operators and customers will enjoy fully air-conditioned, state-of-the-art vehicles that are a key element in our five-year modernization journey.

Another big piece of news this week was the agreement that we reached with Metrolinx to enable the TTC to be the operators of the four new LRT lines. A lot of negotiation took place behind the scenes to reach this deal, as I had to be satisfied that we could operate the lines safely in view of the Province’s insistence that they be maintained by a third party. The TTC is the acknowledged expert in transit provision in this city, and we are also renowned across the world for the multi-modal integration of our system. So for me, this was a prize worth fighting for and I really look forward to the day when TTC staff are driving the new LRTs, controlling the system from Hillcrest, as well as staffing the stations and providing revenue and security services.

It’s that time of year when we have to submit our preliminary budget and this received approval in principle at a meeting of the Commission last week. We made a strong case for increased capital funding, which was acknowledged and we also secured approval for a rate of inflation five-cent fare increase from the start of 2013. No one likes fare increases, but this is necessary to close the gap between our costs and the income we receive, a task made more difficult by the fact that our subsidy from the City will not be increased.

This fiscal squeeze coupled with the need to increase service, and therefore costs to accommodate ever-growing ridership, means that we have to look at every means to run the TTC more efficiently. At that same Commission meeting therefore, Commissioners approved the contracting out of bus service line work at two TTC garages with approval for the remainder to follow in due course. This was a highly contentious issue and there are some who fundamentally disagree with this approach, but I am convinced that we can achieve higher standards of cleanliness for a cheaper price. No member of TTC staff will lose their employment as a result of this decision, and we will be managing the contractors’ performance to make sure they deliver on their commitments. This was not an easy decision, but sometimes tough choices have to be made in the current climate.

A few weeks ago, the Executive visited Mount Dennis Division and Garage for a Meet the Exec event. As ever, it was great to meet and talk with staff. I particularly enjoyed spending an hour answering bus Operators’ questions and hearing their suggestions for ways that we can improve our customer service. We are continuing these bi-weekly visits with the aim of getting round the whole company every year. Next stop is Birchmount Division and Garage on the 11th of October.

Finally, our United Way campaign is well and truly up and running. It was really fun, but quite hard work, to help out at a pizza day at Yonge and Bloor, and it’s not long now until the big CN Tower Climb. Note to self to go easy on the pumpkin pie on Monday.

Here’s wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving and long weekend.

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