Message from the Executives
CEO's Report: January Commentary
I’d like to begin my commentary by wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2022. As we begin the new year, I’d also like to express the TTC’s gratitude to our Mayor and City Council for their continued support, and to our Board for its guidance and leadership during a period of unequaled change and modernization in our 100-year history.
As we approach the second anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to be nimble in our response as we deal with new challenges caused by the highly transmissible variant, Omicron. As it has been throughout the pandemic, the TTC is focused on the health and safety of its employees and customers.
Similar to other sectors, we’re preparing to deal with any potential shortage in our workforce due to the Omicron variant. For the week ending January 21, four per cent of employees across the TTC were absent due to COVID-19 or a COVID-19 related reason, such as caring for someone who has the virus. This absence rate is consistent with the City of Toronto, as well as other government agencies. As we’ve done for the past two years, we will continue to prioritize service on our most popular bus corridors at the busiest times of the day. These corridors include: Wilson, Jane, Eglinton, Finch and Lawrence East, among others. We know that people rely on us and we’ll be there for those that need us.
The impact of the Omicron variant is also apparent on customer usage of the system. Our bus network continues to be the backbone of our fleet, as it has been for the past two years. For the week ending January 14, bus boardings were at 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Streetcar boardings were at 29 per cent and subway boardings were at 26 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels, respectively. Going forward, we expect to see a slight increase in customer boardings as in-person learning returned on January 19.
One thing that has remained consistent throughout the pandemic is the resiliency of TTC employees and their commitment to our great city. This highly dedicated group of individuals is focused on providing Toronto with a world-class transit system — whether they’re working on the frontline or behind the scenes. There are many examples across the organization of employees going above and beyond.
As an example, on December 21, elevators were vandalized at 11 of our subway stations. An individual damaged the elevators at: Bayview, Broadview, Chester, Davisville, Jane, Keele, Main Street, Pape, Queen, Spadina and Sheppard stations.
Typically, this kind of damage can take weeks to fix as custom parts need to be ordered. However, thanks to our Elevating Devices team (with permission from Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority), temporary repairs were completed within 24 hours so that the stations could remain accessible.
I’d also like to commend our Special Constables who were able to identify and arrest the suspect shortly after the vandalism occurred. The individual was turned over to the police and charged with 10 counts of mischief. My thanks to Andrew Dixon, Head of Special Constable Service, as well as Fortunato Monaco, Chief Infrastructure and Engineering Officer, for their leadership on this matter.
As we return to Modified Step Two, I encourage everyone to continue to follow all safety protocols and procedures when riding the TTC. This includes wearing a mask or face covering, as well as staying home if you’re feeling sick. We’re all in this together, and we’ll get through this together.
TTC employees spread holiday cheer
Over the course of October, November and early December, the TTC Recreation Council embodied the spirit of giving and held several events across divisions and in public-facing locations. More than 20,000 cans of soup, more than 2,000 toys and 1,000 new and lightly used winter coats were collected from these events.
The food drive, affectionately known as Soup Mountain, had employees creating a 20,000-can pyramid of soup for donation to the Veterans Association Food Bank in time with Remembrance Day.
Stuff-the-Bus events, which took place at Walmart in Etobicoke, The Duke Live and Toys R’ Us at Sherway Gardens, made the holidays a little brighter for children and teens with toys and gifts for local community organizations, including SickKids, Abuse Hurts, LAMP and the Toronto Firefighters’ Toy Drive.
In addition, TTC employees, in association with the Toronto and Region Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), collected 1,000 winter coats, along with monetary donations, which were donated to the community through Toronto Police 12 Division, the Learning Enrichment Foundation, Shelley Cares Foundation, Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club, Roehampton Residence and Delta Family Resource Centre.
The TTC Recreation Council has been collecting food for the Veterans Association Food Bank for two years. They’ve collected coats and warm winter gear since 2013 and toys and monetary donations since 2007. Since then, thousands of cans, toys and coats have been collected.
I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who helped make these holiday drives a success in 2021.
Diversity and Culture Group
TTC to recognize Black History Month and Lunar New Year this February
Last February, the TTC had its inaugural campaign to recognize Black History Month.
As part of the campaign, the TTC highlighted the accomplishments of prominent Black Canadians who were “firsts” in their respective fields and had their images appear on a number of wrapped buses, streetcars and trains, along with features on station posters, video screens and online. The TTC also showcased a number of employees across its properties and asked them to share the significance of Black History Month.
This February, the TTC will once again recognize Black History Month, as well as Lunar New Year. This acknowledgement helps to ensure that all customers and employees feel welcome as the TTC works to become an even more inclusive organization.
We look forward to sharing more about these efforts in the weeks ahead.
Strategy and Customer Experience Group
ACAT welcomes new members
The Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) has been relentless in its dedication to breaking down barriers and building accessible transit. ACAT is comprised of 15 Toronto citizens who advise members of the TTC on difficulties faced by people with disabilities and seniors, and recommends the elimination of barriers to accessible public transit.
I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank recently retired members of the Advisory Committee: Margo Brodie, James Pyo, Sam Savona, Chris Stigas and Igor Samardzic. Mr. Samardzic served as Chair in 2021 and was an outstanding leader for ACAT during extremely challenging times.
Late last year, the TTC Board announced five new ACAT members who started their two-year terms on January 1. I welcome and look forward to working with ACAT’s new members: Anita Dressler, Wangari Muriuki, Elizabeth Sahoya-Shury, Erica Tanny and Howard Wax.
ACAT meets publicly online on the last Thursday of every month. The newly formed group meets for the first time on Thursday, January 27.
Real-time transit planning on the TTC website
The TTC remains committed to delivering continued enhancements to the new TTC.ca. I’m happy to report that real-time bus tracking and occupancy information went live last month. Real-time bus information shows customers the arrival times for up to three of the next vehicles arriving at their stop.
Customers can also see the new feature of real-time volume of passengers on those vehicles so they can make the best decision on which vehicle they’re most comfortable boarding. This information is available through various devices (mobile, laptop and desktop).
Engineering, Construction and Expansion Group
TTC adds new accessible stations
Easier access elevators entered service at Sherbourne Station (Line 2) and Yorkdale Station (Line 1) in late December making these our 54th and 55th accessible stations on the subway network. Construction work continues at numerous other stations on the system as we remain committed to fulfilling our mission towards a barrier-free transit system by 2025, in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
I’d like to thank our community and construction partners and the many TTC departments that worked extensively and collaboratively to make these two important milestones a reality in 2021.
Safety and Environment Group
COVID-19 updated safety measures
Since the appearance of the Omicron variant in Ontario, TTC Safety and Environment staff have reassured employees that the health and safety measures put in place by public health agencies throughout the pandemic will help prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The consistent and proper use of personal protective equipment helps protect employees. Along with medical masks, which are mandatory on all TTC properties for employees, the TTC recently made N95 masks available as an option for all employees who are unable to physically distance in the course of their duties. It’s also important to note that all employees who are able to work from home continue to do so as they have since March 2020.
The TTC continues to work closely with Toronto Public Health to ensure the safety measures in place for both employees and customers are up to date. Employees have been receiving regular communications letting them know about any changes in protocol and procedures as well as any updates from the provincial government.
On January 17, the GTA was hammered by a massive snowstorm that won’t be forgotten for some time. Upwards of 40 centimetres of snow fell in Toronto with temperatures feeling like -14 Celsius. The last time Toronto saw more than 30 centimetres of snow was in 2008.
The City declared a major snowstorm condition. Highways were closed. The much-anticipated return to classes was postponed for two days. And hundreds of our vehicles were stranded across the city due to severe weather conditions. TTC crews across the network worked above and beyond regular shifts to remain with vehicles, clear track switches or dig out yards and subway open cuts buried deep under heavy snow.
We’re very fortunate to have a resilient and dedicated workforce, and I am truly grateful for their outstanding efforts during the storm and in the days of recovery that followed. I think it was widely recognized that the TTC continued to provide the best possible service to our customers over snow-covered routes – in the safest way possible.
Staff will be providing a public presentation to the Board at its February meeting on storm’s full impact and lessons learned.
The first Board meeting of 2022 is scheduled for Thursday, February 10 and will be live-streamed starting at 10 a.m. on the TTC’s Official YouTube Channel. Subsequent meetings will take place on the following dates: April 14, May 19, June 23 and July 14.
The schedule of regular Board meetings this year is condensed as a result of the municipal election on October 24. It’s anticipated that Commissioners, staff and the public will continue to participate in meetings remotely through the year.
Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
This commentary is published in the CEO’s Report, which can be found on the TTC Intranet and TTC.ca.