Message from the Executives
CEO's Report: March Commentary
I want to begin this month by thanking our fantastic TTC employees for all they do to provide safe, seamless, accessible, inclusive and reliable transit service to the residents of Toronto and beyond.
Every year across North America, March 18 is recognized as Transit Operator and Worker Appreciation Day. In Toronto, the City and Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie proclaimed March 18 as Transit Operator and Worker Appreciation Day.
Transit operators and workers work tirelessly to keep our communities connected; they deserve our respect and gratitude. They also deserve a safe work environment. It is up to all of us to ensure that we continue to work together to keep our transit system, our employees and our customers safe.
Transit operators and workers are essential members of our community, providing critically important linkages between homes, work and appointments that keep our city moving. Transit Operator and Worker Appreciation Day is an opportunity to show gratitude for their hard work, dedication and commitment to public service.
Although we have a number of ways that employees are recognized throughout the year, working with our industry partners, including the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), the TTC chose to extend this opportunity for appreciation until March 24 and marked the occasion with several initiatives to celebrate employees.
The TTC partnered with St. Cyril Elementary School in North York to have students express their appreciation by colouring pages with messages of appreciation that were shared with the workforce. This fun activity is available on the TTC website for the public to participate in by printing pages, sharing them with family, and posting them on social media using #TakeTheTTC.
The TTC’s average weekday boardings remained at around 2.2 million in February as a result of inclement weather and closed post-secondary schools for reading weeks. As of the week ending March 10, overall weekday boardings stand at 70 per cent of pre-COVID levels at 2.21 million.
Boardings by mode continue to be highest on the bus network at 82 per cent of pre-COVID levels while streetcar and subway boardings were at 55 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively. Wheel-Trans ridership is at about 70 per cent of pre-COVID.
As noted in previous reports, we anticipate customer demand to increase further through the year as more workers in the downtown core return to the office.
With spring now upon us, good weather and the return of Blue Jays baseball will also work in favour of our ridership reacquistion efforts.
TTC celebrates employee excellence
It was my great pleasure to recognize the best-of-the-best at the TTC’s annual Rewards and Recognition event earlier this month.
The Executive Team formally congratulated the latest group of employees for their exceptional efforts in Safety, Customer Service, Leadership, Teamwork, Diversity, and Innovation and Creativity for 2022. Our annual event also honoured many others for their long-standing service without occupational injury.
Among the winners were Kuldip Bir, a Lead Hand in the Signals/Electrical/Communications Department, our Employee of the Year; Gayle Hollett, Bus Operator, and recipient of the CEO Award; and Scott Haskill, recently retired Acting Chief Strategy and Customer Experience Officer, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
A big congratulations to all our award recipients for going above and beyond, day in and day out.
Diversity and Culture Group
Recognizing International Women’s Day
On March 8, the TTC recognized International Women’s Day (IWD). The organization acknowledged all the talented people who identify as women working within our ranks.
Embrace Equity was this year’s theme and it focused on why equal opportunities are not always enough. Here at the TTC, we continue to work to eliminate the gender gap experienced in the transit industry and we are hiring more women into traditionally male-dominated roles throughout the company.
For a second consecutive year, we achieved our goal of having four out of every 10 Operators hired being women, as set out in the 10-Point Action Plan on Diversity and Inclusion. This is an important accomplishment, and as we continue to strive to be more inclusive across the organization, this year we are working to ensure that 40 per cent of all our news hires are women.
Recognizing IWD is also an important reminder that there is still more work to be done. Along with hiring more women, it is important that they feel empowered and encouraged to pursue their career goals here at the TTC.
Strategy and Customer Experience Group
10-cent fare increase effective April 3
Last January, as part of the 2023 Operating Budget, the TTC Board approved a 10-cent fare increase on single cash and PRESTO rides while freezing fares for seniors, Fair Pass program users and those with PRESTO monthly and annual passes. Revenue from this fare increase, in addition to the City’s subsidy to the TTC, will help to ensure the system remains safe and reliable for all our riders. The 10-cent fare increase takes effect on April 3.
The fare increase – the first in three years – is helping fund new investments in safety and cleanliness, two things our customers tell us are priorities to both retain and re-gain ridership.
The TTC expands SafeTTC reporting options
This month, the TTC introduced additional ways for customers to quickly report safety or security concerns on the system, with SMS Text a Tip, as well as a webform on ttc.ca. Customers can now text 647-496-1940 to report immediate safety concerns to TTC Transit Control. In addition, customers can also choose to use the webform at ttc.ca to report a safety concern, and submit additional details and images.
These new reporting options are in addition to the SafeTTC app, which is a free mobile app for iOS and Android devices that allows customers to discreetly report safety concerns or suspicious activity within the system. The app lets users report a problem directly to the TTC’s Transit Control Centre by sending text, photos or videos of the incident, or to call 911 in an emergency situation.
As a reminder, in the event of an emergency, customers are encouraged to use the yellow emergency alarm strip onboard vehicles, speak to a TTC employee or police officer, or use the Designated Waiting Area (DWA) intercom on the platform to contact an employee.
Resumption of ticketing for fare evasion
Starting on March 27, the TTC resumed ticketing for fare evasion in select stations and on streetcar routes. Initially, TTC Fare Inspectors will focus their efforts on busy streetcar routes in the downtown core. Ticketing also resumed on subways, many of which have multiple entry points. As ticketing resumes, the TTC will be monitoring fare compliance rates and ticketing rates as well as any other key observations.
Over the past two years, the TTC has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve diversity and customer-focused operations in its Revenue Protection Department.
Over the past two years, the TTC has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve diversity and customer-focused operations in its Revenue Protection Department. This has included working with prominent experts and academics in the fields of unconscious bias awareness and race-based data collection to modernize its practices. These experts include Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Dr. Scot Wortley from the University of Toronto who authored the Toronto Transit Commission Racial Equity Impact Assessment: Interim Report. The result of this work is new training, ticketing and data collection practices that will allow the TTC to review and evaluate its progress.
In future CEO’s Reports, we will include metrics related to the resumption of ticketing and we will continue to report back to the Board on any trends.
Transportation and Vehicles Group
March started with thunder snow event
As we head into the spring season, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked the frontlines and behind the scenes to keep service moving for our customers during the biggest snowstorm of the season on March 3-4.
It was not your typical winter storm. It was a severe thunder snow event that dumped roughly 30 centimetres of heavy, wet snow on the city. The TTC prepared in advance for the storm. Out of an abundance of caution, we cancelled the planned weekend closure on Line 1 between York Mills and Bloor-Yonge (to be rescheduled); replaced SRT train service with shuttle buses; took more than 40 bus stops in hilly areas out of service; and Wheel-Trans activated its severe weather plan.
During the storm, the TTC also prioritized extra buses on 11 routes and corridors that see higher ridership on weekends. These corridors offer essential connections to shopping and medical facilities and are primarily located in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas, where public transit is the sole means of transportation for many people.
Crews worked 24/7 and normal operations resumed on Sunday morning. I could not be more proud of the dedication and teamwork of staff and crews across all groups for getting us through that challenge. Thank you, all!
De-escalation training for frontline staff
On March 13, our Operations Training Centre (OTC) began dedicated training for all frontline staff in professional de-escalation strategies and techniques, using reality-based training and classroom instructions. We were able to take advantage of an existing City of Toronto contract and a third-party vendor, Step Training, is providing the initial 20 sessions to frontline staff. During this time, TTC OTC Instructors will receive Train-the-Trainer certification to take over the training by approximately mid April, when our Instructors will complete the training for the remaining frontline employees.
Learning outcomes will include: defining de-escalation in both academic and practical terms; identifying and applying strategies and techniques of the professional de-escalation model; and demonstrating specifically how to reduce the emotional tension of a person.
Learners will be able to focus on desired outcomes for the situation and not allow themselves to be caught up in the emotional noise of the situation, while interacting with emotionally escalated persons.
This training is part of our enhanced response to some of the complex safety and security incidents the TTC has been working though recently. We would like to thank our partners at the City of Toronto for the ongoing support.
Operations and Infrastructure Group
King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles construction update
On March 14, Roncesvalles Avenue from Queen Street West to Harvard Avenue fully reopened to vehicles, including TTC buses. This represents an important milestone for this project.
The City of Toronto and the TTC started a series of infrastructure upgrades in the King Street West, Queen Street West, The Queensway, and Roncesvalles Avenue area in September of 2020. The City’s contractor continues to work on Roncesvalles Avenue and The Queensway in 2023.
Travel lanes will be reduced to a minimum of one lane in each direction on Roncesvalles Avenue, from Queen Street West to Dundas Street, as needed, while crews complete remaining overhead wiring and streetcar platform installation work on The Queensway from Parkside Drive to Roncesvalles Avenue while crews complete remaining work.
We will continue to provide updates on this project in the coming months.
Service changes at Scarborough Centre Station
Starting on Sunday, March 26 and until summer 2023, the following routes will have service changes due to construction at the Scarborough Centre Station bus platform: 9 Bellamy, 21 Brimley, 134 Progress, 913 Progress Express and 985 Sheppard East Express (includes alternate accessible connection).
The TTC’s priority is to provide safe, reliable and accessible service to everyone. The bus terminal at Scarborough Centre Station will be under construction from March to November 2023 in preparation for the decommissioning of Line 3 Scarborough. Last year, the TTC Board approved the decommissioning of the SRT and converting a portion of the Scarborough RT’s right-of-way into a dedicated busway, providing safe and accessible interim bus service until the Scarborough Subway Extension is opened by the Province in 2030.
We will continue to update the Board. Please visit ttc.ca for more information.
Safety and Environment Group
TPS modifies deployment in response to enhanced TTC safety measures
We have been working closely with our partners at the City of Toronto and Toronto Police Service (TPS) to increase public safety resources.
Over the past few weeks, we have continued to add additional resources to the system, including temporary security guards, Community Safety Ambassadors and Streets to Homes outreach workers. We will also be hiring 50 new Special Constables this year. As a result of these increased efforts, beginning on March 13, TPS adjusted its approach to daily officer deployment on the TTC.
Now that more TTC supports are available, TPS will begin incorporating transit patrols into their regular operational process instead of through overtime, as they have been doing. The deployment of officers will continue to be intelligence-led in consultation with the TTC. The precise numbers of officers in the system will vary.
The safety of our employees and customers remains the top priority for the TTC. TPS, in collaboration with the TTC and the City of Toronto, will continue to assess the situation. This work is part of a larger overall approach to address safety issues on the system.
The next scheduled TTC Board meeting will be on Thursday, April 13.
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.