Editorial Archive

CEO Update for the first week of 2013

1/5/13 7:57 AM

Andy’s TTCast – January 4, 2013

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Hi everyone, this is Andy Byford with my first podcast of 2013. Happy New Year!

This will be a really important 12 months for our company as we build on the foundations that were laid in 2012 and move towards a culture, and processes, that put customers at the forefront of everything that we do.

On Monday the 7th of January, as already advised, a new group will be created to focus on what I call front-of-house activity, leaving the Operations Group to concentrate on what it does best – namely managing behind the scenes or back-of-house activity.

Up to now, the TTC has traditionally had a very large Operations Group that has delivered and managed all aspects of our service. That has served us well, but I firmly believe that the time has come to divide the task of running our service into two more manageable groups for two compelling reasons.

First, I believe that there is a clear difference between what goes on behind the scenes to run the service, such as vehicle maintenance, Transit Control and upkeep of our track, signals and plant, and what is visible to the customer when they use our service.

Customers come into daily contact with front-line staff, including Transit Officers, bus and streetcar Operators, Janitors and station staff and it is this interaction that makes or breaks our reputation for service, courtesy and attitude.

Using an airline analogy, there is a reason why different departments oversee back-of-house activity, such as baggage handling, aircraft servicing and flight scheduling, and front-of-house activity like check-in staff, cabin crew and customer services. Both functions are hugely important as service reliability must be got right for customers to be happy, but I believe that there are different skill sets needed in order to excel.

Second, we have a huge number of projects on the near horizon that will keep our Operations colleagues busy in coming months and years. New streetcars need to be tested and introduced along with the remaining Rocket trains; Automatic Train Control is coming to the Yonge-University-Spadina line; and before long, we need to start thinking about trial operations on the Spadina Extension once that comes on stream.

In the meantime, basic system and service reliability is not good enough with far too many infrastructure failures and avoidable delays that impact upon the punctuality and reliability of our service. On the subway, infrastructure and operational performance are indelibly linked so Operations will retain ownership of Drivers and Guards.

So I want our Operations team to focus on getting the underlying service right behind the scenes, while the new Service Delivery Group takes responsibility for customer-facing activity. The challenge for this new group will be to accelerate our push to become customer-led. I want us to achieve a rapid improvement in things that matter to customers, such as minimizing the number of short turns, improved quality and quantity of customer information and consistently high levels of courtesy and customer service across all modes.  In parallel, I want us to overhaul our processes so that customer complaints are fixed more quickly and with the minimum of paperwork.

A key task for the new Service Delivery Group is to introduce and empower the new Group Station Managers who will each manage one-sixth of our subway and bus interchanges.  These new GSMs are being recruited now and they will have full accountability for everything that goes on in their group of stations, including a mandate to fix local issues and to drive up performance.

In parallel with this change, the Executive is finalizing a roadmap document that sets out what the TTC needs to deliver over the next five years to achieve our vision of a transit system that makes Toronto proud. It is my intention to conduct a series of roadshows around the company in the first half of 2013 to explain this plan to staff and to get their buy-in and comments.

It is vitally important that everyone knows where we are headed as a company, and I want us to vastly improve the way we listen to our staff and incorporate their ideas. If we are to radically drive up performance and quality of service in 2013 – which we must – staff need to feel engaged so this is a key area for me.

Finally, I want to thank everyone involved in the delivery of our New Year’s Eve service this year. The plan worked really well and we moved huge crowds with no real incidents or delay. I really enjoyed working at Queen Station with a fantastic team of station and Transit Enforcement staff and seeing at first hand the TTC at its very best.

That’s it for this week. See you out on the network soon and once again, Happy New Year!

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