What Driving For the TTC Pays

In response to a comment in the thread about TTC costs, someone claimed that a TTC operator made $75K per year.  The perception of how well paid, or not, an operator is deserves its own thread, and here is a comment I received on the subject from an operator named Gord:

Just a quick comment to correct a little bit of mis-information showing up in this discussion.  Tom B. states that TTC operators earn about $30.00 per hour.  I wish I did.  The actual top rate of pay is $26.58 per hour for an operator with over 30 months on the job.

Doing the basic math shows that $26.58 X 40 X 52 = $55,286.40 annually.  If you factor in the cost of our benefits, pension, etc., I am sure that you can make the argument that we earn more than this but that is not what I actually receive in my pay each week.

Just to set the record straight: I am paid for 8 hours and 53 minutes each weekday BUT my actual workday is 11 hours and 46 minutes long because I work split shifts (swing work in TTC parlance).  I start work at 5:49 am and do not finish until 5:35 pm with 4 hours and 16 minutes between the two pieces of work that I do.

I’m not complaining; I choose my own work and I enjoy what I do (like most TTC operators).  I don’t have weekends off (but get two weekdays off instead) because only the most senior operators can get this work.

In terms of operators/collectors showing up on the Sunshine list, think of how many hours they have had to work to get there. This is because there is a lot more work available than there are operators to do it. In order to provide service, the TTC needs to pay overtime to fill the vacancies.

You are correct to state that recruitment is falling short. There are a lot of trainees who do not make it through training, and there are also a number who do not make it through their first year on the job due to the stress involved.

Working for the TTC isn’t a “9 to 5″ job (unless you drive a night bus).  We’re on the job long before most people even wake up in order to be there when they want to go to work.

I’m sorry about the length of this comment (maybe you could start a new topic on the typical day in the life of a TTC operator).

Steve:  Don’t worry about the length of the comment.  Some of my regular contributors are rather long-winded themselves.  Thanks for filling in this information for others to see.

Just one bit of clarification:  The reason for the oddball amount of time in a day is that an operator is paid for the time actually scheduled for the run plus some basic allowances such as travel time to and from the route if they don’t pick up the bus or streetcar at a garage or carhouse.  Very few operators get exactly 40 hours pay per week because it is impossible to divide up the work that way.

Comments on this post have been closed.  I am not running a site for info on how to apply for jobs at the TTC or pass their screening tests.

58 thoughts on “What Driving For the TTC Pays

  1. To Kyo:

    Asking to buy Metropass with a creditcard?? LOL

    Funny…

    It’s like a buying a hotdog with a creditcard. lol

    Steve: Passes can be bought at certain stations, but the TTC has not yet installed widespread connectivity either for vending machines or card validation at collectors’ booths. I hope that any future electronics project related to fare collection, passenger info, etc., takes an overall view of the connectivity requirements in stations rather than yet another one-shot effort at selected locations.

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  2. I’ve been with the TTC as a subway operator for just over a year now, and I would like to share my experience with you.

    Background:

    I’m 24, I goto university part time and work for TTC full time. I’m majoring in Mechanical Engineering and I’m currently in my 3rd year.

    Training:

    Training lasted roughly 45 days. We were given 2 phone book sized binders filled with detailed train equipment, procedures, wayside signaling system, amongst other various information. The hours for training were 7am-3pm. However, we had roughly 2-3 hours of “homework” on a daily basis. This included daily assignments (we had ANOTHER binder for this) and review which were marked by our instructors. We were tested weekly, with a major test biweekly. Testing included: Written, Driving, Problem Solving, and Safety. We had 14 tests in total in which the passing grade was 80% for each.

    Some Facts:

    – We work long hours. On average I work around 55-60hrs weekly.
    – These include split shifts (4hrs off) usually in the afternoon.
    – Whatever my finish time is, it’s a safe bet to add 20-25mins of overtime to that (more in the winter).
    – I work weekends. My off days are thu/fri.
    – I get to choose my schedule. The choices are limited as seniority is the determining factor.
    – Every 6 weeks my schedule changes, along with my off days.

    Physical Aspect:

    – Driving a train requires close attention to detail at all times, the signaling system ensures that. Driving through a red light is a serious violation, serious enough that if we do it 5 times, we lose our jobs.
    – Radio communication directly with transit control. The radio acts like our eyes/ears, it lets us see the big picture of what’s going on around us.
    – The train weighs close to 200tn and is about 430 or so ft long. Each train accelerates/brakes differently train-to-train as well as model-to-model.
    – If the rails are wet or icy, braking requires a lot more anticipation and braking judgment as sliding through a station is a very real possibility (considered a violation, as well).
    – Guarding carries a whole different set of responsibilities including fixing train problems to dealing with passengers, while controlling the doors.

    Personal Aspect:

    – Time with friends and family drastically reduces. Long hours, no weekends and late night work pretty much sums it up.
    – You end up making many friends at work, since they are the only others that have similar schedules … hehe
    – Working with your partner can be good or bad. Regardless, you work with someone new every 6 weeks.
    – I try to keep my offdays roughly the same so that I can go to my classes.

    Working for the TTC requires quite a bit of commitment. Like every job it has its pros and cons.

    Average salary without much overtime is approx $77k (at full rate)

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  3. Hello,

    I’ve been applying to the Transit Operator position at TTC for a few years and I have not yet been called for an interview. I have also attended the Job Fairs and have always been told that they are sorry but they are swarmed with resumes and will call me when they can. I meet all of their requirements and submit resumes (in person and by email) quite frequently.

    Are there any suggestions to help me get my foot in the door, or do I just have to sit back and wait patiently?

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  4. Wow,

    As I read through this thread and go from hot to cold, ultimately, I am left with fear. Fear for the love of my life, the woman I am going to marry this year. She has been with the TTC for just over two years.

    She is college educated with a degree, but chose to apply for a job with the TTC due to it’s stability. Also because it would help to provide for the family we are going to build. It was far from easy. Most, if not at least half of her fellow trainees, failed.

    She is a polite and competent hard worker who has pride in the service she provides people. To think that I could receive a call one day bearing news I’m even afraid to speculate on, is terrifying. We’re just regular people who love this city, love working in it and plan on raising a family in it. I do not want her working for the TTC anymore. I am no longer concerned with how much it pays and how stable the work is. My sales pitch on a new career is about to become more aggressive.

    I will spare you the knowledge I have of what an average day is like for a TTC employee. There are plenty of posts explaining, accurately, the day to day comings and goings of work for the transit commission. I will, however, make clear my observations, in general of course, to the average angry person.

    Dear Average Angry Person,

    For the sake of my family that is but a twinkle in my eye;

    Please, I beg you, do not misdirect your anger, frustration, violent nature, verbal assaults and so on and so forth at the driver of the bus. It’s four minutes late because of the other riders five or six stops behind you. Or maybe it was the yellow honda that cut the bus off and caused it to catch a red light. Possibly the teenager, short fifty cents, trying to explain his unawareness of the fare. Or maybe the lady with the scooter, who’s just had hip surgery and is a little inexperienced with interior-paralel-parking, tacks on an extra minute. Then when she backs her rig in place, here comes Mr Tenspeed. His bicycle goes on the rack in the front of the bus. Of course, this sequence of events is rare but at the same time, slightly feasible. And the list goes on and on. What I am trying to get at here is this.

    For the first time in my life, this city has me scared.

    So much hate. So many furrowed brows. It all needs to be channeled to the proper places. I desperately hope not at my lovely, beautiful wife to be.

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  5. Interesting reading so far.

    I would pay 75k+ to a bus driver in India or Asia for that matter to an extent.

    In India, the buses driven have MANUAL transmission, uncomfortable, crowded like rush hour all day, its hot as hell every year, the most dangerous roads in the world, absolutely chaotic traffic, air/noise pollution, not to mention the passengers themselves can be notorious.

    See this video.

    That is normal driving. Its about proper judgement, control and patience. Try doing that for 8 hours, an hour or even 15 minutes. This is skillful driving and deserves every penny it gets.

    I understand its all relative but I chuckle when people talk of stress when driving here in the west :D

    I respect the TTC employees and get respect back pretty much everytime. And we all have been mugged or harassed by some weirdos at some point, its not like only TTC operators get abuse. The public also has its share of run ins with the wackos and scum of Toronto.

    As for comparison with IT, well, I guess you haven`t coded a 500,000 lines of code project that required 3 years of extensively mind numbing critical thinking, problem solving, data analysis, testing, debugging, fixing the erorrs and doing this all on a insanely tight schedule meaning working from anywhere, even while riding the TTC ;)

    And if you think getting employement in TTC is a gruesome prcoess, well, you haven`t tried applying for a Fireman, Army or even IT :)

    cheers

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  6. As for myself……..i too have applyed at TTC last august for the bus driver position and now last month for the wheel transit position. Unfortunaly all i have received for both, was emails containing confirmation that they have received my resume and will contact me within 6 months? well 6 months is almost here and i must say i think by now if ment to be.i would of heard something for that by now.Last week i received the same email for the wheel transit position.Im not sure what to gather by this where at first i had my hopes up for the first one but it looks to me as routine and the same is happening for this one.Does anyone out there have any advice as to this process of recruitment and is wheel tranist really looking for drivers, as they say ? Thank You :)

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  7. I am kind of surprised by all these IT guys trying to compare their job stress with a bus driver’s stress.

    To all of you IT guys: your work does not require you to navigate a 40 feet long bus full of people who are someone’s mother, brother, sister or even a husband through the streets that are full of people, cars and not to mention some office guy who thinks he or she can cut of a bus and pull in front.

    You sir sit in front of a computer that does not ask you fifty question while you are trying to make a right or left turn on a busy street full of pedestrians.

    You sir are not responsible for half a million dollar machine that belongs to the the city.

    You sir will not be held liable if you run over someone or some IT guy’s nice little Honda.

    A bus driver has to not only pay attention to his or her driving, he or she has to pay attention to all the other drivers and pedestrians and have to keep in mind that someone asked him or her to stop on a certain stop few blocks back. Not to mention people on the bus.

    What does a mistake from you cost? Let me guess — a longer day at the office to correct. Guess what a mistake from a driver costs? So who has the more stress?

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  8. IT professionals invested a huge amount of effort, time, and money in order to get to where they are today. They sacrificed a portion of their 20’s to get that comfortable air conditioned office. What did ticket collectors sacrifice to get that air conditioned booth?

    In fact, the only reason why TTC operators get paid the amount they do is because they draw their money from public funds.

    As for the assaults, that’s known as retribution, for getting rich off the backs of the working poor. Most of these people can’t afford cars and are forced to take transit.

    What happens when we make a mistake? It costs millions and you find yourself on the streets without a job. What happens when a TTC operator makes a mistake? They get promoted to ticket collection.

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  9. Hey steven chueng if it bugs you so much how little you make get a job driving a bus for TTC. I admit I am an ATU member but not with TTC or any government job I work in private sector and make more than TTC drivers. As a bus mechanic I complain more about bus drivers than anyone but it is a hard job you are tired at end of shift but don’t get much excercise either. 95-98% of drivers are very good anywhere you go , I’ve worked for 10-12 companies over the years but yes like any job some people are not the best employees that’s the real world. I might also say that any retired TTC drivers that have worked part time at various companies have been the best to deal with if they say there’s a problem with bus there’s a problem no crybabys just very professional competent drivers who get the job done not always so easy to find.

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  10. Stephen Cheung, you really should get your facts straight about the education bus drivers have. I have a BSc from UWO, and I drive a bus. This is not the only job I could get, I chose this job! There are many educated drivers out there. I made more money at other jobs than I do at the T.T.C..working in a lab all day was extremely boring, driving a bus on the other hand … well … every day is a new experience. It is all about how you define success — Money or happiness. If you love your job, you never have to work a day in your life … this is a quote from someone else ;)

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  11. TTC operators should be paid Min 30,000/annual – Maximum 50,000/annual (with 5 years or more experience including night shift and overtime). There are a lot more people out there with better skills than you and get less paid than that. TTC is one of the most expensive and inefficient public transportation system in the world.

    ==================================
    According to the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Report for 2006, 277 TTC employees earned more than $100,000 last year. That is more than double the 134 members of the “$100,000 Club” a year previous. In comparison, the TTC had 95 employees in the club in 2004.

    Read more in the National Post

    ======================

    Even with 1000 hours of overtime how do you justify such pay for such a simple job?
    Admit it. You are over paid and you should be thankful to all people paying for your salaries. Stop defending and denying.

    Steve: I really am fed up with people misrepresenting information on the “sunshine list”. For the last few years until I retired, I was on that list in my professional position as an IT manager at the Toronto school board. Many other people in the same general salary bracket as me — Vice Principals as a good example in schools — had drifted above 100K simply by inflation. It won’t be long until many teachers are over 100K, and those who now hold multiple jobs, such as a day and night school position, are there now. The large percentage increases in the length of the lists are caused by the lack of inflation adjustment of the 100K line. It is no longer way up at the top rank of salaries, but now includes a wider group below. This is common to salaries everywhere.

    If you look at the positions of those at the TTC who make over 100K, most are in management in skilled positions such as engineering and trades, not operators. By the way, the article you cite from the National Post is from 2007, and it makes the point that only 17 people on the list were operators.

    If you want to kvetch about how much operators make, be my guest, but get your facts right.

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  12. Being a TTC driver is like being a truck driver: long, long shifts, probably tiny breaks if they’re lucky. Probably sucks to be one if you like to do things outside of working, I think the pay is ‘ok’, 50-60k a year average is like most jobs which require grind, take construction for an example.

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  13. Yes Hasib you can say being a transit operator is like being a truck driver, but does a truck driver care that your young school aged child is being taken to their destination safely. Truck drivers are blue-collar workers, can you tell me that a transit operator doesn’t have relationships with his or her regular passengers. A truck driver has one load to get to his destination on time. A transit operator has hundreds, there is an amount of stress when carrying someone’s mother, son, father, grandmother and infants. That’s the prestigious cargo that a transit operator carries. So a truck driver? I don’t think so.

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  14. I believe that there was a study done back in the 70’s that it’s more stressful to drive a streetcar in rush hour traffic, more so than driving a car, than it is to fly a rocket to the moon.

    I am Pro-Subways and wish the streetcars would finally make their way to clunker heaven, but I felt that I should defend these poor streetcars drivers.

    Think people … not all jobs have a bathroom just down the hall. Nor a cafeteria for you to sit sit in and eat a leisurely lunch. Nor do all jobs afford you 2 days in a row off to rest your weary bones. Nor, do all jobs allow you to enjoy the statutory holidays. etc.

    My late brother-in-law was a streetcar driver back in the 70’s. His poor wife & family, barely saw him. It was such a treat if he managed to sit with us for a Christmas Dinner between swing shifts, only to wolf his meal and fly out the door.

    Never mind the time off issue or convenience of a leisurely lunch, do you know how much actual physical damage, long term streetcar drivers incur? They end up with spinal issues, as well as organ issues, not to mention the subject that no one wants to talk about and that is probably the most painful of all … hemorrhoids! Try having surgery for that, only to have them return again because of the job. Oh, and save the cheap shots that they should look for another job when jobs are hard enough to come by.

    Streetcar drivers have to eat a lot of crap for years until they reach a certain level of seniority. My brother-in-law finally made the level to become a subway driver. What a difference. A lot less stress on the nerves and the body. A subway driver can stand up in his booth to stretch his legs. He can eat his meal in peace. He is secluded in a private cabin away from the maddening crowd.

    Life is better all the way around with subways for the driver, the patrons, the car drivers, the pedestrians and long distance commuters, etc.

    Do I begrudge these poor souls their wages. Not in the least! They put in TONS of overtime, which equals no family time, they eat lots of stress, they give up the personal comforts that many other jobs afford and their health is compromised in the end.

    Postal Delivery people also suffer physical damage as well as our not-too-fond-of garbage collectors. But people don’t look at those aspects of the job. All they see is that someone got a hefty pay cheque. Those that complain, obviously would never dream of taking jobs like these because it would require to much WORK & SACRIFICE! And that dear complainers is a fact!

    If you really need to gripe about something, then gripe about the union leaders and their salaries. Why don’t you wonder how they manage to own Million plus Dollar Homes and and have 2-4, $150,000 Dollar CARS in their driveway? How can someone making a couple of hundred thousand a year be able to afford all that luxury? I am sure that Audits of their lifestyle would expose a lot of skeletons.

    This is where everyone’s griping should focus! And not on the poor TTC Drivers, Postal Delivery People or the Garbage Men.

    Get rid of the Unions! Or, make them transparent, accountable & downsize the upper echelons. This is long over due!

    Union Leaders are not your every day, hard working man. Educate yourself about who they really are and how them came to be.

    Like it or not, Rob Ford does know what he is doing when he says that he wants to make certain services essential services. Wake Up!

    To the owner of this blog. Please note that your comments box does not show all the text at the end of or beginning of a line. Also, there is no, stretch/enlarge the window tab in the lower right corner. It sure would make proof reading ones post a lot easier. :)

    P.S. The above also includes Bus Drivers.

    Steve: I am not sure what era your brother-in-law worked in, but one important change on all vehicles was the conversion to Recarro seats as a way of combatting back injuries. Oddly enough, the problems are worse on buses that must travel on badly paved roads. A friend of mine reported two operators being transferred off of Dufferin because they were pregnant. Without question there is stress in driving on roads with busy traffic, and the streetcars see the worst of this.

    On the subject of overtime, I must say that this is voluntary, although there’s lots of it available. People complain about TTC staff including operators and station collectors showing up on the “sunshine list” of those earning over $100k/year. That’s how they do it.

    Finally, as to union leadership, that’s an issue for the members of the union. If the members feel that the union is representing them well, but are concerned about compensation and benefits, that has nothing to do with City or TTC budgets. I don’t have a problem with making the TTC an essential service, but with this comes an end of anyone being able to complain about the evil unions. They will have to start complaining about evil arbitrators. Be careful what you wish for.

    Just because an arbitrator gives a union, say, 3%, this does not mean that the city has to raise funding to match. The result could be some combination of increased fares or poorer service and maintenance. We will hear about squeezing the fat out of the organization, but even assuming there was, say, 10% that would never be missed, once you make those cuts, what is left is subject to annual inflation or a decline in service.

    Meanwhile, the TTC faces a provincially mandated cost of topping up its pension reserves, and this could add substantially to the TTC budget over the next decade. That is an issue for Queen’s Park, and they have been quite silent on the matter even though the TTC has pursued it for some time. There are villains and heroes everywhere — those who paint things as “all the union’s fault, or all Miller’s fault, or all Ford’s fault” don’t know their history, and are doomed to making simplistic, unworkable “solutions”.

    On the subject of comment formatting: I am using Firefox, completely up to date, running on Windows XP, and the comment box works just fine. I pasted your entire comment into it and it was properly set in paragraphs with no spill outside the box. Adjustment handles are not necessary because the text in the box should auto-format to stay inside the boundary.

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  15. People always seems to have a problem with the operators of the TTC. Why is that? I tell you this though: the employment office is at Bathurst and Davenport. Get there Monday thru Wednesday before 1pm, ask for an applicaton and maybe you too can be drving a bus through the streets of Toronto. Let’s see how you like it.

    Yea, I am a TTC operator of eleven years. If any of you are so interested in the dealings of the TTC’s operators, then maybe you may have heard of me — the operator who got pepper sprayed for simple doing his job. So let me say this: when you are talking about the salary of an operator at the TTC, know this. I love what I do and am never one to complain about our salary. We deserve every penny of what we earn. To the guys who make over 100k a year, do you know how many months of working seven days a week they have to work for that? Some of you people need to get your facts straight and stop spreading lies.

    There has been a lot said both in written and broadcast media about us TTC operators, but as one previous contributor stated, we are up long before the city wakes to be there when it does, coming home long after the evening rush. But we are not complaining about what we do. We do it graciously day in and day out. What we are asking is this. The people of Toronto have to realize we are human being as well. We work for the TTC, but the last time I checked no where did I sign away my basic rights as a human being which are granted to me under the Ontario labour laws and the charter of rights and freedom.

    No one wants to have this conversation, which I believe needs to be had and which is the truth. How about the attitude of the public towards us TTC operators? The different personalities and attitudes. The rudeness, the insults, the abuse, both physical and verbal, the name calling, the list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is this — the public attitudes toward TTC front line workers is down right nasty and stinks and it needs to stop. The public needs to realize we are not your enemy. We are there to help you and we do the best we can. But the public also has to take responsibility for its treatment of the operators of the TTC. To every action, there is a reaction.

    Steve: While I agree with some of this note, I do so with two important conditions. First off, many riders are not automatically abusive to operators. I see a variety of interactions over the course of my daily riding, and we “the public” are not uniformly villains. Anyone who brings that sense to their job as an operator is anticipating problems, and may react from an “us versus them” viewpoint that is counterproductive. Second, some operators do make unreasonable demands on passengers.

    The past few days with the heat have not been pleasant times for those who drive non-AC vehicles, service has been erratic on some lines thanks to construction, and everyone is on edge. I know that I stew when I see what feels like needless delays, when a connection doesn’t work, or when idiot motorists decide it’s time for a “war on transit”.

    There’s enough “blame”, if that’s what we’re looking for, to go around, and things will only get worse if Council and the Commission cut back on service in the name of “respecting the taxpayer” or some other bullshit slogan. Everyone needs to focus on making the transit experience better, difficult though that may be.

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  16. “To the guys who make over 100k a year, do you know how many months of working seven days a week they have to work for that?”

    All it takes is one weekend of overtime (i.e. working 12 days straight in an office) for me to get very tired and cranky. I don’t believe that customer-facing employees, especially those operating heavy equipment, should be permitted to work as much overtime as they are allowed to be minimum standards. I would hope that employee and customer best interest trumps seniority considerations in such circumstances, not just in theory and workplace handbooks but in practice.

    It’s amazing how hard people fought for the right to have regular breaks from work and in one generation most of it has been given back.

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  17. I’m going for training as a Transit Operator, they say after 2 years i can transfer to the subway but what are the chances?? I’ve seem really young guys driving the subway, is the subway in demand for drivers? I know its all about seniority, how long of a wait do i expect to transfer to subway after two years?

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