TTC reducing costs while maintaining service in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

The TTC today announced a number of cost-saving measures aimed at maintaining critically important transit service in the city. Included in the savings is a temporary staff reduction of approximately 1,200 employees over the coming weeks.

“This was not an easy decision to make and came only after reviewing all other options,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary. “We will take care of the impacted employees as best we can during this difficult time and I look forward to everyone returning to the TTC once ridership has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an 85 per cent drop in ridership and a loss of $90 million in monthly revenue – money that is essential to sustain operations.

Given these financial challenges, the following cost-saving measures are being implemented:
- Significant reductions in expenditures including pausing all salary increases for non-unionized employees, reducing overtime across the organization, reviewing current vacancies and forgoing hiring all seasonal hires.
- Matching service capacity to system demand by temporarily laying off up to 1,000 transit operators, subject to negotiations with ATU Local 113, and 200 non-union staff positions will also be impacted.
- Delaying all non-essential capital projects in accordance with provincial guidelines.

The TTC is experiencing additional savings on utility, fuel and PRESTO commission costs. Once fully implemented, cost saving measures will result in savings of up to $25 million each month.

Service will be maintained at roughly 70-80 per cent of regular levels which is in line with current demand. This will ensure that customers currently relying on TTC service have access to it, this includes healthcare providers, grocery workers and those who rely on the TTC to run essential errands to take care of themselves, their families, their friends and their neighbours. Particular focus remains on servicing priority routes within the bus network in a way that allows for good physical distancing.

The TTC continues to work with the City of Toronto and transit agencies across Canada to ensure public transit is given proper consideration in any provincial and federal assistance programs.

The following message was issued to all employees on April 23, 2020:

Important Message to TTC Employees from the CEO

Good morning everyone,

Like other businesses and organizations across the public sector, the TTC is not immune from the financial challenges caused by COVID-19. While this is not an easy decision, it is our current intention to temporarily lay-off approximately 1000 transit operators and 200 non-union positions.

The TTC is committed to working with the union to negotiate an agreement that would minimize the impact of this decision on our employees over the next 30 days. Similar to our negotiations with the Union, the TTC is committed to working with our non-union staff to ensure they are treated in an equitable manner; we will be able to provide more information in the coming weeks. The TTC will be working to establish a compensation and benefits arrangement for employees to minimize negative impacts as a result of the layoffs.

I want to be very clear that this was not our first choice. Since January, when we were first impacted by COVID-19, we have been looking at every option to manage our expenses – we have paused the salary increase for non-unionized staff, reduced overtime across the organization, we are continuing to review vacancies, and we will be forgoing all seasonal hires this year.

I come from an operations background and having to do this to dedicated and hard-working employees is the hardest thing I have had to do in my career. We have simply reached a point where we have no other choice. Our ridership and revenues are down by 85 per cent or approximately $90 million a month.

Service will be maintained at roughly 70-80 per cent of regular levels which is in line with current demand, ensuring that those riders who are currently relying on TTC service have access to it. These individuals include healthcare providers who use transit to get to work, grocery workers who continue to provide services and the general public who rely on the TTC to run basic errands to take care of themselves and their families. It is our commitment to continue to provide service to the entire city equitably and allow for physical distancing. These job reductions will mean we’re matching service to demand with a service reduction of about 20 per cent.

The TTC is dedicated to ensuring that all our employees – union and non-union – affected by this announcement are treated in a manner that reflects our organizational values and our commitment to our employees. We will share information with all employees as more details become available.

To all those who may be impacted, I want you to know that I am thinking about you and your families. I want to make sure you know that this is in no way a reflection on the value we place on the work you do and I am committing to updating you as information is available.

I know these are uncertain times and to all employees of the TTC - thank you for your service. If you are in need of support during this difficult time, please contact the Employee Family Assistance Program run by Morneau Shepell at 1-800-572-0039.

The TTC is often described as the lifeblood of Toronto. It is an essential service that keeps our great city moving. The global COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, but I know we will get through this together.

I look forward to welcoming you all back to the TTC when we return to regular operations.

Stay safe and stay well,

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
April 23, 2020

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