Editorial Archive

CEO Update for the week of October 29, 2012

10/29/12 2:24 PM

Andy’s TTCast – October 29, 2012

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Hi everyone, this is Andy Byford with a reflection on recent events and issues here at the TTC. 

Our United Way campaign is in full swing and it’s not long now until TTC Idol – one of the absolute highlights of the year. This year’s campaign is tough for our Co-ordinators, but I’m confident that we will still raise a respectable amount in keeping with our proud tradition of supporting those less fortunate than us. The Exec has continued to hold pizza days in conjunction with those held by staff, and it was fun to flip burgers at a recent barbecue outside the McBrien Building. Less physically fun was the CN Tower Climb where I joined 150 brave TTC colleagues to climb the 1,770 steps at six o’clock on a dark Sunday morning. The whole event was incredibly well-managed and organized by Kathy and Nancy, our wonderful Campaign Co-Chairs, and everyone felt a real sense of achievement while raising much-needed funds towards our campaign target.

Over the last two weeks, Dave Dixon, Jim Teeple and senior managers from Rail Infrastructure, have held a series of roundtables with the Track, Structures, Electrical and Signals teams to discuss how we manage safety at track level, and to find ways to improve our procedures. Over a series of five sessions, we have gathered an enormous amount of feedback on all aspects of track safety and the working environment – information that will now be used to create an action plan based upon what the staff who actually do the job think is required to enhance safety. In my opening address to each group, I said that anyone can quote me when I say that: Safety must always come before production. I also said that the concept of regular staff engagement and genuine, two-way dialogue is something that I want to become the norm as we set about transforming the TTC and how we work together.

Last week, we presented a report at the Commission calling for further study on the need for a Downtown Relief Line. This was the result of some excellent work done by our Service Planning team, who agree with me that we have to start planning now to provide relief to the Y-U-S line, and to cope with a 51-per-cent rise in the number of customers using the Y-U-S by 2031.

This was a theme that I returned to in a series of Editorial Board meetings with the Toronto Star, The Sun and the Globe and Mail, with a final session with the National Post lined up for later this week. The purpose of these meetings is to give the TTC the opportunity to share with the newspaper senior editorial teams, our plans and aspirations for the future, and to aid their understanding of our business and the pressures we face. I was pleased to be able to describe future plans for station management, PRESTO and the way we are tackling company culture as part of the five-year push to modernize.

The TTC was featured in the news on the subject of noise recently. A number of senior managers joined me at a residents’ meeting at the west end of the Bloor-Danforth line to answer complaints about increased noise and vibration, and to outline our plans to mitigate the problem. Only a few days later, the Ombudsman released her report into the Second Exits project at Greenwood and Donlands Stations. It’s fair to say that we failed badly in the way we consulted with the community, and I have accepted the Ombudsman’s recommendations without reservation. The good news is that we now have a highly professional team whose role it is to lead community consultation and to build relations with City Councillors and other stakeholders. This is important if we are to meet one of the key elements of our new TTC philosophy – namely being good neighbours and I’m determined that we should excel in this area. 

On a more positive note, it was good to attend an open house at Pape Station with the local Councillor on the weekend. Our afore-mentioned Community Liaison team organized the event, which gave local residents the chance to discuss and learn more about Pape Station modernization. I think the TTC got a lot of kudos from residents for the event, and we certainly owed it to residents who have endured construction for a long time now.

The Exec continues to get around the property. We have visited Birchmount Garage and Division and the HR Department at Inglis in recent weeks. Next up is Queensway Garage and Division on the 8th of November. 

These visits are invaluable in breaking down them-and-us attitudes and in enhancing the Exec’s knowledge of current issues. They’re also indicative of the open, engaging and friendly management style that I’ve been calling for over recent months. The vast majority of TTC staff do a great job, and we should always encourage people to excel and create opportunities for good staff to progress. That’s not to say we shouldn’t uphold rules and high standards; on the contrary, I passionately believe that people like to know our expectations of them, and the need to drive up performance in a positive, motivating culture.

It’s all part of how we are progressively transforming the TTC.

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