Message from the Executives
NOTICE TO ALL TTC EMPLOYEES
While I don’t normally write to you in response to something in the news – being in the news is a daily fact of life for all of us here at the TTC – I do think it’s important that I address a column today by Royson James of the Toronto Star.
Mr. James, in his own way, is sticking up for the TTC and what he sees as a change in how transit planning is conducted today. While there will always be change, change for the TTC does not erase our well-earned, solid reputation among our transit peers. Nor does change, in this case, mean the TTC is silent. We are a proud organization with a long history of transit excellence – as an operator, a planner and constructor. That has not changed one iota.
I can tell you first-hand that the TTC is turned to routinely for advice and expertise on a range of issues, as well as for our creativity in getting the job done in the midst of ever-increasing financial pressures. Suicide prevention, multi-modal integration, customer and staff engagement, our world-renowned streetcar network, our talented and ingenious shops staff, overlaying a state-of-the-art signal system on top of a 60-year-old signal system … all of these, and more, are looked upon by other transit operators as impressive examples of leadership.
We have partners at City Hall in the Planning and Transportation Depts., of course. We have partners at Metrolinx, too. As public servants, our collective objective is to serve the people of Toronto. Each of us has a role and those roles are defined on a project-by-project basis. As the scale of what we do increases, and as our funding partners see their commitments increase, it is inevitable that we will have to change some of the roles each of us play. We have seen that throughout the history of the TTC, most recently when we made changes to how light rail is developed and delivered in Toronto. Ultimately, our Board gives strategic direction, but they also rely on our expertise, from which we never waver.
What is true – and I stand by this – is that I have moved the TTC from a position of being totally responsible for transit planning â€Žto one where we work with the City as partners. Transit planning must be seen in the context of the City’s Official Plan and it needs to be informed by population and employment projections.
In the past, the TTC has been accused of being arrogant, and judge and jury of transit planning and I, for one, think there was some truth in that. So, as part of TTC modernization, we have moved to a middle ground, one where we pay more attention to what City Councillors and City Planning think, where the big picture is properly considered.
The TTC is building the TYSSE. It will be an incredible addition to the network, with expansive and impressive stations. We have had our challenges, yes, and they have been well-documented, but also made clear that those challenges do not all reside with the TTC. Our project managers, engineers, designers, contractors and support staff can and must hold their heads high on what they’ve accomplished to date on this project.
Likewise, our new streetcars. We’re all painfully aware of Bombardier’s delays in getting these new streetcars to Toronto. But we’re also immensely proud and very aware of the in-house expertise that has gone into the car’s design, making them accessible and ready for what is arguably one of the world’s great streetcar cities. The Leslie Barns is a striking example of staff expertise and the incredibly important role the TTC plays in Toronto.
We’re in the midst of a five-year journey to transform the TTC. Some harken back to another era or time where the landscape was very different from today; where the subway was just a few decades old and practically ran itself; where our existing fleet of streetcars still had that new streetcar smell!
Those were, I’m sure, heady days – days even some of you may fondly look back on. The TTC, though, must change and adapt. We must be customer-focused, work with the City to build and expand the transit network and, ultimately, deliver the world-class system people need and deserve.
If others want to criticize the TTC and its CEO, I will take that hit. I maintain that we are doing the right thing and I remain convinced that we will defy the skeptics and be proven right.
I am proud of each and every one of you. The commitment I see from so many of you – the dedication, hard work, and the service you provide to this great city every single day will never be diminished by a few words in a newspaper. We’re too good, too capable and too proud to shrug our shoulders at the mere suggestion we’re anything but a transit system that makes Toronto proud.
Chief Executive Officer
March 17, 2016