Message from the Executives
CEO's Report: October Commentary
On September 29, I had the privilege of addressing the Empire Club of Canada. It was a timely opportunity to talk about how the TTC has been welcoming riders back on board to a new normal in Toronto as well as talk about some of the things we are doing to deliver service as advertised to new and returning customers.
As we predicted, the TTC began to experience a steady increase in customers across the network following Labour Day. We know that customer boardings have been steadily climbing across all modes on weekdays and weekends since the beginning of August. Overall weekday ridership increased by 16 per cent, while weekend ridership rose by 11 per cent during that time.
As well, student travel has returned since the end of summer and it makes up the largest portion of the increase between August and September (secondary and post-secondary students normally represent about 22 per cent of ridership). Office commuters have been slower to return and we are at about 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels – averaging two days a week. This segment of our ridership normally represents 38 per cent of boardings.
As of the week ending October 7, boardings by mode continue to be highest on the bus network at 75 per cent of pre-COVID levels while streetcar and subway boardings were at 54 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively. At Wheel-Trans, ridership is at about 62 per cent of pre-COVID levels. This organization has worked extremely hard to make sure we were ready for the increase in ridership that we knew was coming. We are in the process of recruiting, hiring and training more frontline employees.
We want customers who have not been travelling with us regularly to know that we are ready to welcome them back. The TTC has taken steps to remind customers that we are the familiar and affordable alternative for travel in Toronto.
Ultimately, we want people to feel comfortable choosing the TTC because it is safe, reliable, affordable, and a greener choice.
Diversity and Culture Group
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
On September 30, the TTC recognized the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The TTC began the day with a Sunrise Ceremony at the Hillcrest Complex at 7 a.m. All employees were
given an orange shirt pin along with a postcard explaining the significance of September 30. Employees were also encouraged to wear an orange shirt over their uniforms to recognize this important day.
Orange flags were installed on all buses, and decals were displayed on streetcars and Wheel-Trans vehicles with the message Every Child Matters. The day was also acknowledged on all TTC station platforms and screens.
We know there is still a lot of work ahead of us. At the TTC, our 10-Point Action Plan for Diversity and Inclusion is our collective path forward as we work on becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization.
Celebrating Inclusion in October
In October, the TTC continues its commitment to promoting inclusion in the workplace by celebrating Women’s History Month and Latin American Heritage Month.
This month, across the Commission, the TTC will be profiling women who have made their mark at the TTC over the years. We will also be highlighting our employees of Latin American heritage through a poster campaign at all our properties.
The TTC is proud to support our workforce as we continue to promote the hiring of women and more diverse individuals through various recruitment events and other hiring initiatives. We strive to make everyone feel empowered and encouraged to pursue their career goals at the TTC.
Strategy and Customer Experience Group
Nuit Blanche in the subway
After a two-year absence due to the pandemic, Nuit Blanche returned to the city in spectacular fashion in early October. The TTC was a proud participant in Toronto’s all-night celebration of contemporary art with exhibits at Kipling and North York Centre stations. These installations were designed by artist Teho Ropeyarn. Large-scale prints explored spiritual narratives between people, land and ancestors.
The TTC played an important role in getting spectators to and from 150 exhibits that Nuit Blanche had to offer across the city. In addition to the extended subway service hours, customers were able to enter North York Centre and Scarborough Centre stations free of charge to view the art installations in each of these stations.
Accessibility pilot at York Mills bus terminal
Earlier this month, the TTC completed a customer survey of new accessibility features piloted at the bus terminal at York Mills Station.
The wayfinding features and information decals that were tested in service are especially beneficial to customers with low vision and those using mobility devices. Some features were also designed to assist bus Operators to align vehicles to bus stops more efficiently.
The results of the pilot and customer feedback will help the TTC in its efforts make the network and customer experience as barrier-free as possible.
Engineering, Construction and Expansion Group
Automatic Train Control (ATC) completed on Line 1
In late September, I was proud to participate in an announcement that Automatic Train Control signalling is now fully activated and operational on the entirety of Line 1 Yonge-University. I am grateful to staff and crews in Operations and Infrastructure, along with our ATC Project teams, for completing this major assignment.
I was joined by Mayor John Tory and TTC Chair Jaye Robinson at Lawrence Station on September 29 to make an official public announcement.
This is an enormous accomplishment for the TTC. Throughout many weekend subway closures over the last number of years, crews installed more than 250 signals, 2,000 beacons and other trackside equipment; performed special track work in the tunnels; and laid down more than one million feet of cabling.
The modernization of our signalling system is one more way the TTC is working to provide a better experience for our customers as we continue to welcome them back.
Wi-Fi pilot on buses expanded
The TTC continues to expand its Wi-Fi pilot on buses. Wi-Fi equipment was recently activated on all 34 Eglinton East and 165 Weston Rd buses. This pilot is part of a phased proof-of-concept trial aimed at improving the TTC’s service offering, and is specifically targeted towards priority neighbourhoods in Toronto.
Just over 180 TTC buses are now equipped for public Wi-Fi. Special exterior decals are affixed to the vehicles to inform riders that they can take advantage of Wi-Fi service on their trip.
Operations and Infrastructure Group
Community Art celebrating the TTC
Congratulations to TTC Welder Nick Bavaro. The TTC’s Community Art Program was engaged to create a mural on a vacant building on Bathurst Street opposite from Hillcrest Complex where some of our heavy maintenance work takes place.
TTC staff worked with Benji Feldman of Front Street Inc. and artist Emmanuel Jarus. The pair ultimately chose Nick as the focal point of their giant mural. Nick works in the Surface Track section in the Streetcar Infrastructure Department. He is shown cutting streetcar rail with a rail saw – a critical task in keeping Toronto’s streetcar fleet rolling smoothly.
The mural was painted in July and officially unveiled on September 20.
Safety and Environment Group
Vaccination tally increases
The TTC hosted drop-in vaccination clinics at eight subway stations through September. The Vax and Ride campaign, held in partnership with Toronto Public Health, administered a total of 1,430 shots to TTC riders and the general public.
That brings the total to more than 14,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccinations administered at clinics held at TTC locations. We are proud of the part that we are playing in putting the pandemic behind us.
TTC Halloween Fest – October 29-30!
And finally, I would like to invite everyone to visit TTC Halloween Fest at Bay Lower on Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30. TTC volunteers at our station are putting on a scary, but family friendly great time to raise money for the United Way Greater Toronto. We are looking forward to seeing everyone arrive in costume. Wander through the spooky Trick-or-Train experience for kids, explore the TTC history exhibit and enjoy other fun activities.
Halloween Fest takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets at the door are $5 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under. All proceeds go to the TTC/United Way campaign.
Happy Halloween and stay safe.
Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer