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.

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58 Responses to What Driving For the TTC Pays

1. Ben says:

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.

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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

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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.

2. hasib says:

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.

3. Lorne says:

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.

4. Missy says:

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.

5. Zabi says:

Hello

How to become TTC driver ? any info ?

Steve: The info is on the TTC’s website.

6. carrigan mc queen says:

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.

7. Mark Dowling says:

“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.

8. ERic says:

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?