[Updated June 8, 7:30 am]
The TTC has accepted Rick Ducharme’s resignation effective immediately. Gary Webster, the General Manager of Operations, has been named interim Chief General Manager pending a formal search for Ducharme’s replacement. I’m not sure that “congratulations” are appropriate under the circumstances, but I wish Gary Webster well.
He is the best choice of potential internal candidates for the position, and I hope that the Commission will let him do his job. We cannot afford to lose another seasoned member of TTC management who actually understands how the system works.
I am not going to duplicate the many comments from other sites and leave it to readers to track down media coverage. However, I have started on a long post with questions for everyone: the union, the Commission, Council and the Mayor on what their positions really are and what the future holds for the TTC. Stay tuned.
Rick Ducharme, Chief General Manager of the TTC, has announced his resignation effective November 30, 2006. You can read details in various media outlets.
I am not going to speculate about the specifics of any problems with the current labour problems and the degree to which Ducharme’s negotiations may have been undermined by members of the Commission. Ducharme cites political interference, and he’s not the first CGM to raise this problem.
Nobody in his position would resign over a single incident, whatever it may be, but from an accumulated collection of issues.
The Commission has a bad habit of wanting things both ways. They want to tell people that everything is wonderful, that somehow we will have good transit service everywhere, that we won’t scold riders too much when they show up with an invalid fare or a mangled transfer.
Then they turn into penny-pinching guardians of the public purse.
Look at all the money we’re losing from riders who don’t pay their way! How dare you try to run more service without approval of the Budget Advisory Committee? Ridership Growth Strategy? What loony thought that one up?
From a Commissioner’s point of view, any CGM who expects to operate without some political interference is hopelessly naive. When you’re the head of a very large public sector agency, you need to be ready for political battles. Fair enough, provided that the politicians who profess to lead the TTC, to be strong advocates for expansion of public transit services, actually support management in battles at Council.
Rick Ducharme and I don’t always agree on where the TTC should be going. I understand that he must operate from a position of what is politically possible and likely. He knows how much money he can expect to get, at best, and tailors his plans accordingly. I, an advocate, argue from the position that we should always be wanting more for transit if we are going to meet the promise of our so-called Transit City.
Where do we go from here?
The next CGM will be hired after the fall elections, by the new Commission chosen from a new Council. Any candidate would reasonably ask how much support they can expect from Commissioners and from key members of Council including the Mayor. Good candidates, and they are hard to find, will not waste their time on a Commission and a City that will try to second-guess every move they make.
A CGM candidate would reasonably ask about funding arrangements. Is money for better service, more vehicles, expansion of rapid transit (of whatever flavour) something we will really see, or is it a pipedream? Is everyone happier to count on tripartite argreements between Toronto, Queen’s Park and Ottawa that will never, ever produce results than to work on meaningful, achievable funding schemes at the local level?
I’m not applying for the job, but there are hard questions for those who will pick the new CGM. The questions any candidate has for the Commission will be at least as hard as any the interview team might concoct.