Rick Ducharme Resigns From TTC (Updated)

[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.

[Original Post] 

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.

3 thoughts on “Rick Ducharme Resigns From TTC (Updated)

  1. The Commission currently consists of nine members of city council (or 20% of the 45 smembers.)

    1)  Should that be changed to include some non council members?  City councillors would still hold the majority of votes (say six of nine) and since the TTC requires an annual subsidy (however slight it is), city councillors have a measure of control there.

    2)  If the TTC continues to be comprised entirely of city councillors shouldn’t there be a clear demarcation between the city council and the commission.  The TTC heirarchy reports to the commissioners not city council.

    3)  Are we also talking about interference from beyond Toronto City Council?  By that, I refer to the province reserving funds for a subway extension into Greg Sorbara’s riding, when there are better ways to spend the same amount on capital projects e.g. LRT network, enhanced GO Transit, more buses.

    Steve replies:

    The TTC was originally all “private citizens”, then a mixture of outsiders and Councillors, and finally all Councillors as it is today.  The problem with so-called private citizens is that they can be even worse than politicians — members who are friends of all the right people, but who are not subject to the discipline, such as it is, of an election.  If the TTC members are appointed by Council, they will reflect the views of the majority of Council, or they won’t be reappointed.  Better we have members who have to answer in a public forum (Council) where they can be challenged for whatever they do on the TTC.

    As for a demarcation point, there is no direct interference in TTC affairs by Council, but debates on budgets and major projects are another matter.  We have Councillors who want a subway to every doorstep in their ward, but won’t pay for more buses, operators and better service.  All of the deputations by the public, glorious speeches about the wonders of transit by Commissioners, bragging by the Mayor about our “Transit City” can change the fact that when push comes to shove, the Budget Advisory Committee and Council make unreasonable demands on the TTC. 

    In the context of this discussion, “unreasonable” means not matching the stated goals of the Commission, many members of Council including the Mayor, and the Official Plan.


  2. It will be difficult to hire a new CGM who is more than a lap-dog.  I don’t think a top transportation professional who is interested in making a difference will look at the job until Moscoe is removed.

    To borrow somewhat from a famous British wit of many years ago:

    To lose one CGM is unfortunate, to lose two careless, to lose three must be Moscoe.


  3. In my 32 years with the TTC this doesn’t surprised me in any way.  When the public purse is being used to fund your operation, then those who know are those who can’t.

    Unfortunately if a new CGM is found and who has any balls he/she won’t last long under the present politically climate, but then who know what will come out of the November elections.

    Sadly the effect of a new CGM taking over is almost always the same … house cleaning and blood letting.  Time to take out (redeploy they call it) the garbage.  Hopefully we won’t end up with a bunch of “yes” men and political eunuchs.  A great system sadly stagnates into a political morass.

    Steve:  Speaking of yes-men, a former CGM was notorious for packing the place with managers who told him what he wanted to hear, but who didn’t know one end of a bus from the other.  David Gunn got rid of most of them.  Pray that we don’t get a repeat performance.


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