Bus and Operator Shortage Hits Service

On Sunday, February 15, new schedules will be implemented on many routes.  Across the system, many of the peak period improvements from last November are rolled back to reduce the demand for buses and operators.

The bus shortage is easy to understand thanks to the battery problems with the hybrid fleet, but the shortage of operators is more troubling.  Does this represent a problem with recruiting, a higher turnover of staff, a jump in retirements, or some combination of these?  The TTC owes us an explanation if only to temper expectations of service improvements that are practical later in 2009 and beyond.

The cuts will be in place from February through, probably, June 2009 when we would normally see summer service reductions.  The real challenge will come in September when “full” service should return to the system.

February 2009 Service Changes

37 thoughts on “Bus and Operator Shortage Hits Service

  1. Sorry for the 3-peat, but has the TTC considered changing their application rules to encourage more people to apply? I’ve always wanted to drive the subways, and I already know what all the various signals and signs in the tunnel mean. My current job is not all that different from being a station collector, both of us sit around and help people when needed. However, since I do not have an Ontario drivers license, and cannot drive buses, I cannot do either of these. The TTC needs collectors, for every new collector, there are extra labour hours that could be spent driving buses.

    Steve: Many of the people in the Collectors Group are staff who cannot for various reasons remain as drivers. They would not be available to move back to operating.

    Within the Operators, where you are posted is a question of what location you bid for in a master signup by seniority. You cannot join up as a subway operator, but need to be able to operate buses and streetcars as that’s likely where a junior employee will start out their career.

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  2. I have little sympathy for the TTC with this problem. The battery choice (actually, the Vehicle choice) for hybrids was a bad one. As for service levels, well, here we are in Ottawa after 60 days without bus service (something Toronto will NEVER experience, and God Help Us, neither will we again), we only have two-thirds of our fleet operating, with some routes not providing any rush-hour service. So, Toronto ain’t so bad off. Still, that would explain why OC Transpo couldn’t borrow some old buses for the interim from the TTC.

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  3. You have to be kidding me? It’s a little early for Fools Day.

    Are you sure this isn’t a budget issue?

    Steve: They have been short buses for some time, and operator shortages are an ongoing problem. However, a plan to deal with both will have to be in place by at the latest April in order to restore these cuts in June. If they’re playing games for budget purposes, it will become evident what is really going on fairly soon.

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  4. How can you have a hard time hiring operators when the pay and benefits are very good? I think most drivers would love to become a TTC Driver.

    The only downside that may be holding many back is the potential abuse that one gets from passengers, and crime and dealing with unruly passengers.

    But newcomers to Canada would love to work at the TTC I’m sure.

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  5. Talking to bus/streetcar/subway operators throughout the past 10 years…The more senior you are then the more choices you will have.

    How interchangeable are the operator positions to each other?

    Can a bus operator go to a subway?
    can a subway operator go to a bus?
    Can a streetcar operator go to a bus or subway? and vice-versa?

    Steve: If an operator bids to move to subway work, they have to agree to stay there for a minimum period to offset the cost of the extra training for subway operations.

    Either than some basic training. I noticed the streetcars have a third pedal…what is that used for?

    Steve: The third pedal is the “dead man” control. If it is pressed all the way down, or allowed to come all the way up, the streetcar will make an emergency stop.

    Can you train an operator be trained for two types of vehicles?

    A subway and a streetcar are in a way the same thing, they both ride on rails and can’t really go anywhere else (and yes I know they can jump off tracks).

    Buses and streetcars are both surface vehicles….

    I mean Admiral Adam is both a City Councillor AND a TTC Commisioner.
    Can’t TTC operators do two things?

    Steve: As long as they are trained.

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  6. If I understand Steve’s reply to Nick’s post correctly, then TTC doesn’t employ “bus operators” and “subway operators” – it just employs “transit operators”. This strikes me as somewhat bizzare, because driving a subway train requires a very [different] set of skills to driving a bus. Surely it would be better to have the jobs separate, allowing people who can only do one of the jobs to work for TTC.

    Steve: The TTC needs bus operators far more than it needs subway operators as the latter positions are more desirable. As I said before, you don’t start your career as a subway operator, you have to build up enough seniority to bid into that group.

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  7. Steve,

    Interesting topic. I don’t have a lot of time to post today. I will find time on Thursday (my day off) to try to give some answers to the questions that have been asked (as well as any others that are asked between now and then) from my perspective as an operator.

    There is a severe shortage of operators (and collectors as well). This is resulting in service being cancelled due to no operator. Compounding this is a severe shortage of equipment (not only hyrids by the way), but diesels are dying on the road as well. There is also a problem with some of the older buses failing MTO inspections and being sidelined as a result.

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  8. Before you can be trained by the TTC to drive a bus or streetcar, you must have a clean driving record on your driver’s abstract. Maybe that is the problem? Too many speeding tickets, running stop signs, illegal turns, etc.
    Of course, if you already have a school bus license, you are ahead of the rest.

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  9. Just yesterday, I was just looking at YRT’s page on February 15 service changes and the section on TTC contracted services (see http://www.yrt.ca/schedules/service-changes.asp#ttc ) had only route 25D (Don Mills) increasing service slightly while all of the other routes (37D, 68B, 102D, and 105) will have service reduced. Most notable is that with the exception of Dufferin North (105), the other three start with the text, “Due to a shortage of TTC buses and operators,…”

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  10. @Mike:

    “How can you have a hard time hiring operators when the pay and benefits are very good? I think most drivers would love to become a TTC Driver.

    I recall reading in a Star article a year or so ago to the effect that two-thirds of applicants wash out during training. Driving a bus is evidently not something that most (or even, apparently, many) G-licensed drivers can easily do. Perhaps training will have to become a longer, gentler, more more ‘nuturing’ (for lack of a better word) experience rather than a harsh screening process… if that’s what it is now. It’s not Top Gun, but it’s neither is it trivial.

    The only downside that may be holding many back is the potential abuse that one gets from passengers, and crime and dealing with unruly passengers.

    … and the social stigma of being a “lazy”, “overpaid”, “grumpy,” etc., public worker who’s “just” a bus driver. I suppose I could make more as a transit operator than I do in my current (and likely future) government job, but — not to be overly dramatic — it would involve a serious change in self-image and reconciling years of “wasted” education.

    But newcomers to Canada would love to work at the TTC I’m sure.

    I don’t have any data, but I would suppose that the bulk of “newcomers to Canada” have far less relevant motor vehicle operation experience than a random domestic high school graduate.

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  11. The solution for this should be articulated buses, they provide better-used capacity (no bunching) and need less operators for the same capacity or more capacity for the same amount of operators.

    Steve: Bunching is inevitable on any route with frequent headway, congestion and indifferent line management. Artics have advantages, but some of these are lost in Toronto due to pay as you enter fare collection and underutilization of the back of the bus.

    Also, is a subway operator less stressful than a bus operator? They don’t have to deal with irate passengers, traffic, skipping stops, engine malfunctions, or other vehicles on the road, so is that why the position goes to the more senior operators?

    Steve: Unless you want to rewrite the contract with Local 113, all operators are considered the same. By the way, on the subway, you have to drive without stopping for coffee or a call of nature except when that is scheduled, you don’t get to talk to people, in emergencies you have to assist in getting hundreds of people off of your train and walking down a dark tunnel, and folks throw themselves under your train from time to time. The stresses are there, just different ones from those on a bus or streetcar.

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  12. Steve – allow me to do my level best to explain, as you requested. Firstly, you are partially correct: the need for more operators is a combination of two things really, retirements and service improvements. We are hiring 900-plus operators this year alone to replace retiring employees and meet our commitment to the Ridership Growth Strategy.

    As you also correctly state, there is a shortage of buses. While we await delivery and the commissioning of these new vehicles, service is being adjusted beginning this Sunday. Rather than scheduling 30 buses on a given route, for example, only to then have to cancel two due to bus/operator shortages, we will, instead, schedule those routes based on the buses and operators available. This ensures fewer gaps on a route and, ultimately, greater reliability of service. The morning and afternoon rush hours will have 47 and 56 fewer buses, respectively, on the road.

    Service today – and this Sunday – is still better than it was prior to the November board period. And, yes, We’ll be in good shape this September.

    Finally, none of these adjustments affect the off-peak improvements that were introduced last November – 30 minute headways, every route serviced seven days a week, matching of subway hours, etc.

    Thanks for the opportunity to help clarify.

    Brad Ross
    Toronto Transit Commission

    Steve: Thanks for your note Brad. I think I have two main concerns.

    First, the difficulty of fielding all of the RGS peak service would have been known when it was launched, at least on the operator strength side. The hybrid bus problems likely hit you harder than was expected.

    Second, it’s important that this not be seized on by those who would like the TTC to just muddle through with inadequate service forever.

    The City Budget includes statements about anticipated flatlining of ridership, and little additional service in 2010/11, as well as the need for a rolling five-year plan on fares and service. By 2011, in theory, the first of the new LRVs should be here, and 2012 will certainly see costs jump as we begin to operate a new carhouse and fleet and increase service while still maintaining much of the existing equipment. This needs to be factored into future plans along with the operational and budget impacts of Transit City and the new Waterfront service(s).

    All of this will put pressure on the budget for existing services, and we need to stand firm on that point.

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  13. This is a disgrace. The TTC, with the iron hand of senior levels of government guiding it, have put the future of the system into reliance on lousy buses. The new hybrids are $750,000’s waste of money and the old low floor $500,000’s are not any better. I can’t believe that a (misguided) approach where “low floor” is confused with “full mobility” has been served by buses with low capacity and grabbing brakes and rough acceleration. Does anyone think that a mobility challenged person, one who supposedly can’t climb onto a GM Diesel, could actually stand on these awful buses. I am not mobility challenged, but I hold on with two hands. Fortunately, for future generations, the quality of these awful buses is so much below that of GM Diesels, thay they will not live on (haunt us) for 25 years or so. Like the Ikarus buses from the same supplier they will fade away in the near future.

    In the meantime, I see routes who are graduating to low floor and also losing a bus. God help the people who now must live with the new “crowding” standard. On a GM Diesel, the TTC loading standard of mid 50 passengers had lots of room for crush load. On an Orion disaster, the bus will be leaving people behind even before the “loading standard”. When politicians, who endorse silly values and activists who do not understand transit control the agenda, silly transit results ensue.

    Steve: I don’t have much use for the hybrids either considering that the additional cost could have bought us more buses. However, Ottawa dictated that their money could only be used for “green” initiatives, and we’re stuck with that fleet.

    Orion got the order because the TTC said “we want a lot of buses, and we want them now”. Orion claimed they could make the due date, Flyer demured. Oddly enough, Orion missed their delivery, and the TTC didn’t have money to run the buses anyhow.

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  14. Why can’t the retirees work part-time? If they are still able, they can supplement the regular drivers during their vacation, sickness, or special events.

    The reason why not, the union says no.

    Steve: Does anyone from local 113 want to comment on this?

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  15. I knew it was too good to be true! All those service improvements that actually made things a little better. Shortage of drivers and vehicles, buses and streetcars. YRT cuts because TTC cannot honour its commitments. Management fails to manage once again.

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  16. Thanks for posting the table of upcoming changes, Steve — I find it quite interesting and useful to have these detailed before-and-after comparisons rather than having to pore over the service summary.

    There is one thing that is evident from this table (and from the one you prepared for the November 2008 improvements): on the longer routes that are the backbone of service in the 416 suburbs, especially the most frequent ones, the addition or subtraction of one bus from the allotted fleet really has a negligible impact on the route’s service.

    On the Dufferin bus, removing 2 buses from the AM peak increases the average headways by only 8 seconds.

    On Eglinton West, removing 3 buses from the AM peak increases the average headways by only 4 seconds.

    On Finch West, removing 4 buses from the PM peak increases the average headways by only 15 seconds.

    I have picked the most noticeable examples from the table, but there are others where the same principle applies.

    Of course it works the other way as well — you could throw on another 2 or 3 buses on these routes and they would be unnoticeable. Your CIS analyses show that, notwithstanding the impact on “average” passenger loads, the change in bus allocation (positive or negative) would be lost in the bunching and variability that occurs regularly on these longer routes. And if the changes are unnoticeable, is that really the best use of the operator, bus, and operating costs (given that all are in short supply these days)? It seems to me that we should be using the limited resources (financial, fleet, staffing) more efficiently by addressing the bunching and irregular headways that result in unused capacity.

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  17. By all the accounts I’ve heard, the TTC takes a supremely long time to hire drivers. The time from someone putting in an application and being hired can stretch on as long as a year.

    With it taking that kind of time, there must be some applicants who receive and accept job offers from other employers during the TTC’s lead time, causing the number of applicants available to shrink in size; there have to be more than a few people who move on to other things while waiting to hear back from the TTC. The only way to address that issue is for the TTC to make their hiring process more responsive when positions are posted, to reduce dead time.

    The reason why I bring this up is because a couple of years ago, a friend of mine applied to a large transit authority for a power distribution system job shortly before graduating from college. Different transit system, same routine from what I’ve seen and heard. He got called in for an interview in front of a panel of three people, given the technical test and passed with flying colours and got shortlisted for the job; the HR department said they’d call him back with a job offer if he was accepted.

    After not hearing back for several months, he found and accepted another job because he couldn’t hang around unemployed with massive amounts of student debt waiting for the TA to call back at their extreme leisure. About 8 months later, he crossed paths with one of the technical guys who interviewed him – and was asked why he never accepted the job offer as he was the favoured candidate. He had to explain that due to financial pressure from being a recent graduate, he had to accept a job elsewhere because the HR department took months to get back to him even though, apparently, they were told to make an offer. So they lost their 1st choice candidate for their job because the HR department decided to goof off. Ooops.

    Steve: Yes, there are HR horror stories everywhere. My question to anyone who has gone through the process is whether this is typical for the TTC.

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  18. Well this is disappointing. My 17A Birchmount will most likely return to its old AM Peak schedule. That means the current bus I catch at 7:32am will suddenly go poof, leaving me with a choice between catching a 7:22 or a 7:43 bus. Then when summer reductions kick in I will have to adjust to yet another new time.

    This may be off topic…but add me to the chorus of boos regarding the Orion low floor Hybrids. I have been riding the TTC since 1985 and I have never before ridden a bus so impractical in design. I get thrown around so much it’s not even funny anymore. There are not enough reachable poles to grab, and the elevated seating area is impossible to manoever. And good luck getting past the front seat if there is just one baby stroller on board. I think all levels of politicians should be forced to ride these monstrosities so they know just how awful of an investment they were.

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  19. I applied to be a bus driver last year, and never heard back. Shame too, since I know the bus routes and schedules better than many of the bus drivers 😦

    I’m currently doing courier work, so I am adding some good driving experience to my customer service experience, so I may try again in another year or so.

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  20. Steve,
    TTC Passenger is right on. About 10 years ago, I was called in for an orientation class for wheel trans. There were a series of questions and other things and if you scored high, you got an interview. I scored second, had an interview, told thanks and you will be getting a new hire package couriered. This was from H/R. I never heared from them again. I called their H/R Once. I almost quit my two jobs too… I then continued working at my present jobs. Hey, they can probably encourage existing bus licensed operators to apply. Training would then be reduced immensly. Regardless Steve, H/R is a certain breed of animal that I can’t fathom. How it operates like that everywhere else too, ceases to amaze me. Where do they find these animals…

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  21. Steve (and other posters who have asked questions),

    I will attempt to provide some answers from my perspective as a TTC operator. My experience at being hired by the TTC is quite typical of the current process from what I understand. I have been an operator for 6 years. I initially submitted my application to TTC in mid-May; received a call from HR in early October (which was a telephone interview – inital screening process); was invited to attend an information session held in late October; completed a job-shadowing assignment; had a face-to-face interview with HR in early December: after completing the interview I was sent for some physical testing and scheduled for a medical examination in mid-December; I was then contacted to return in late February of the following year to complete my employment documentation and was then placed into the “training pool”. I was eventually contacted the following April to start my training at the end of April. The process took almost a year.

    All through the process, we were told that we would be trained as a transit operator for the mode (bus, streetcar, subway) where the greatest need is. The basic requirements are quite clear on the TTC website.

    Because there is no guarantee where you will be placed, you have to meet the requirements for all three. In fact, I almost started training for streetcar before I was placed in a bus training group. Training as a bus operator takes 23 days, streetcar operator takes 25 days, and subway operator takes 30 days. Speaking from my experience in bus training, this is extremely intensive training and it is easy to fail at any point. My understanding is that TTC’s training is recognized within the transit industry as being one of the best. A large portion of training is to meet MTO licencing requirements for “Z” endorsement and “C” upgrading.

    Bus and streetcar training cover a lot of common ground: vehicle operation, vehicle inspection and trouble shooting, customer service, schedules and route management, fare structure and fare media, TTC policies and procedures. Streetcar training also covers yard operation and safety, and fixed systems (track, switches, overhead). Subway training covers: Subway/SRT Rule Book, track level safety, signals and wayside signs, vehicle operation and guard’s duties, trouble shooting, emergency procedures.

    It is possible to change modes; however, you must submit a “System Seniority Transfer Bid”. Once accepted, you will undergo training in the new mode. Training will vary, based on your previous TTC experience. Once transferred, you are locked in for 2 years. The exception to this is for a System Master Seniority Bid, such as happened when Mount Dennis Garage opened. SST bids are stopped and the Master takes place. Operators can move between modes and operating divisions. Training on new modes will take place (as well as refresher training for operators returning to modes that they have previously been trained on). Operators transferring fron one division to another in the same mode will be given training on vehicles that they have not previously been trained on (certain models of buses are only operated out of certain divisions: for example I would require training on hydrid buses even though I am trained on Orion 7 diesel buses).

    Nobody is hired to be a collector. Collectors transfer in from operating postions. The reasons are varied, but the most common is that they can longer drive due to medical reasons. Some collectors are “forced” into this work due to not being able to drive due to too many “occurances” (this becomes the “last chance” option).

    I have been told that there are many reasons for the shortage of operators. Of the QUALIFIED applicants, approximately 30% – 40% do not complete training (either through outright failure to pass or just plain quitting when they realize that they can’t drive a large vehicle). Some quit within their first year on the job. They cannot handle the shifts (very junior operators get little or no choice as to their crew selection), the stress of navigating a large vehicle through traffic, customer abuse. Our job is not very family friendly –junior operators have weekday offdays, generally later shifts (evenings are spent at work, not at home with your family). The main thing that seniority will bring is the ability to have at least ond weekend day off. Very senior operators can get both weekend days off.

    Average seniority varies depending on the mode chosen. Bus divisions are generally more junior (10 years will bring decent work). Streetcar divisions are somewhat more senior. Subway divisions are very senior (ten years is junior). Collectors is extremely senior – 20 years is junior!

    To answer Mike and Greg Smith: the pay and benefits are good. We have a level of job security (especially in today’s economic conditions) that are the envy of many. However, keep in mind that the TTC had to lay off 1600 operators in the early 80’s when they responded to the recession by doing massive service cuts. I don’t want to sound full of myself, but driving a 40,000 pound 40 foot long vehicle is definitely not the same as driving your average Toyota Corolla (or even your average Dodge Caravan).

    It is a totally different skill-set and more importantly it is a completely different mind-set. Air brakes respond much differently from hydraulic brakes and they respond differently depending on the vehicle load condition. You also have to have “thick skin” to do our job due the customer abuse we are confronted with on a daily basis. We deal with fare evaders, fare cheats (fraud and forgery), drunk and unruly, etc.

    As for the social stigma of being a “lazy”, “overpaid”, “grumpy,” etc., public worker who’s “just” a bus driver.” I take pride in the safe and smooth operation of my vehicle. I view myself not as “just” a bus driver but rather as a “carefully selected and trained” professional urban transit vehicle operator. I make every attempt to be friendly and cheerful with my passengers. I take pride in being helpful when faced with questions. I know that there are some operators who are not nice to deal with, but I feel that they are in the minority.

    One final comment on the vehicle/operator shortage. I feel that many departments within TTC have failed the basic test of internal communication. Service planning developed and implemented a massive service increase system wide. They failed to communicate with the equipment departments to see if there were enough vehicles to fulfill this improvement. They failed to communicate with the operations departments to see if there would be enough operators to provide crews for the improvements. There was a failure to communicate with HR and Traing to ensure that there were enough recruits and trainers to fill the vacancies.

    To Steve: I am sorry about the lenght of this post (perhaps it is actually more of an essay) but I felt that some of the questions posed required answers. Please feel free to edit if necessary (my feelings won’t be hurt).

    Steve: Thanks for all of the info. All I have done is tidied up the paragraphing.

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  22. Steve,

    I have had a chance to review your summary of service changes for Feb 2009 and will make a couple of comments about the Birchmount routes which I am familiar with. These are AM peak services only.

    87 Cosburn -1 bus: this bus was cancelled or late leaving the garage just about every day during the current board period.

    102 Markham Road -3 buses: 2 buses were cancelled or late leaving the garage

    16 McCowan -1 bus: same as above

    72 Pape -1 bus; same as above

    As well, other routes that were candidates for cancelled or late leaving the garage were: 23 Dawes (1 bus), 69 Warden South (1 bus), 24 Victoria Park (2 buses). There were several others, but my memory fails me as which ones they were.

    When buses came available, it was because buses came in off of Blue Night routes, were serviced (refuelled, exterior washed) and immediately re-assigned to fill these runs. As well, several uncrewed runs had their buses re-assigned to cover these runs with the net result that these routes would still be missing a least 1 bus. The uncrewed runs resulted from the operator shortage where there was no operator available to fill in for an operator who called in sick (no spareboard or volunteer overtime operator).

    During the day, we will receive numerous text messages from the divisional CIS looking for operators to do overtime to cover uncrewed runs. Several times we will also receive calls from CIS to see if we will be willing to work overtime.

    I would be interested to see the “official” TTC response to the reasons behind the current operator shortage (Brad Ross – care to respond?). I can understand equipment shortages due to the problems with the hybrid batteries and older buses breaking down, but I am curious why we are so short of operators.

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  23. Question for Gord:

    So you started getting paid by the TTC at the end of April, having applied in May of the previous year and gone through a whack of interviews and/or running around in October, December, and February?

    Sheesh.

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  24. @Ed

    You start getting paid by the TTC (Training Rate) once you start the training program. Up until that point, you are not officially an employee. The first day of training is your official start date. This is when your seniority starts. This is no different than applying at any other employer.

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  25. The service summary is up:
    http://www3.ttc.ca/PDF/Transit_Planning/Service_Summary_2009-02-15.pdf

    It shows a loss of 49 AM peak buses and 56 PM peak buses. And also 9 mid-day buses and 2 early-evening buses.

    Given that the PM peak was only 1403 buses pre-cut, and the AM peak is still 1458 post-cut, the majority of the cuts seem to be due to operator availability rather than bus issues; and I’m thinking that the bus issues are being used as a bit of scape goat – or at least exagerated somewhat (particularily as the summary shows that 40 buses – and one streetcar – were disposed of since the previous summary).

    Steve: The buses that were disposed of were beyond repair and have not been operating for some time. Those that are sold generally have structural failures than are not worth fixing. See the TTC report from August 2008.

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  26. I would bet (and I’m not affiliated with the TTC in anyway) that a good deal of the operator shortage can be blamed on operator’s calling in sick. And I bet that some of them that call in sick are doing it almost with the intent of a “non-confidence” vote due to various beefs, the common one likely being abuse. The union ran an ad in the Metro this week saying AT LEAST one operator was assaulted PER DAY.

    The media and general public can aim their criticism at the union regarding sick time and absences until they’re blue in the face. The reality here is that there is likely no real solution – unless the operator’s can head to work and not be cursed at, spit on or physically assaulted for doing their job.

    I would love to at least try the job. I deal with odd hours and weekends now, so that would not bother me. It is the idea of being a punching bag that talks me out of it every time.

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  27. Gord’s behind-the-scenes view was useful, as always. The one thing I find a bit scary is that collectors are all ex-operators. Yes, it’s both ethically and financially responsible to offer the collector job to operators who are unable to drive anymore, but it comes at the price of filling collector booths with people who probably never really wanted to be there. No wonder _some_ of them are so grumpy. I’m sure there are people who would make excellent collectors who wouldn’t make good operators, but it sounds like the TTC has no interest in trying to hire them.

    Steve: The question becomes more complex if you change the job title to “Station Manager”. This would require someone who would be on their feet a lot wandering around one or more stations, up and down stairs plus those escalators and elevators that were actually in working order. They would have more physical contact with passengers including those who make collectors very happy of their closed booth.

    If the TTC starts hiring directly into the Collectors group, it’s a short step to asking what, exactly, a collector should do. That’s an intriguing debate in its own right.

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  28. Rob M Says: “The media and general public can aim their criticism at the union regarding sick time and absences until they’re blue in the face. The reality here is that there is likely no real solution – unless the operator’s can head to work and not be cursed at, spit on or physically assaulted for doing their job.

    I would love to at least try the job. I deal with odd hours and weekends now, so that would not bother me. It is the idea of being a punching bag that talks me out of it every time.”

    I head out to work each day aware of (and somewhat worried about) the abuse and possibility of some kind of assault/confrontation. I do not obsess about it nor do I allow it to stress me out. I knew that this was a very real part of the job when I applied and later started the job. I like my job and I like the challenges it presents. Believe it or not, this job actually has a lot of freedoms to it: you choose your work, you choose your working hours, you choose your days off. All of these choices get better over time due to seniority. I am free of the “Dilbert World” (cubicle life) that I once spent my working days in. There are many negatives to being an operator, I agree; but I look at the positives a find that they outweigh the negatives. Like the vast majority of operators that I know, I wouldn’t trade this job and go back to what I once did for a living. And to answer the unasked question, Yes I have been verbally assaulted and verbally abused many times, I have been threatened. I haven’t been physically assaulted (and I am thankful for that). A lot of it has to do with sizing up the situation and using conflict resolution to defuse the situation.

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  29. As for the social stigma of being a “lazy”, “overpaid”, “grumpy,” etc., public worker who’s “just” a bus driver.” I take pride in the safe and smooth operation of my vehicle. I view myself not as “just” a bus driver but rather as a “carefully selected and trained” professional urban transit vehicle operator…

    I think you may have mistook my meaning. I’m a public worker myself, as is my wife (and my parents were, too). What I meant is that we all face a lot of the criticisms listed above, and that’s fine, but that TTC operators often seem like everyone’s favourite target for abuse, bad-mouthing, etc., on and off the job. I know that most operators I meet on the TTC share your approach to their work, but by “social stigma” I meant precisely that, i.e. the way others view you rather than the way you view yourself.

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  30. Rob M Says: “The union ran an ad in the Metro this week saying AT LEAST one operator was assaulted PER DAY.” Actually this is a campaign initiated by the TTC itself. The ads (also on vehicles and in subway stations) actually use the term “employee” rather than “operator”. This initiative is the result of the Joint Health and Safety Committee and the safety study commissioned by the TTC with BST. This is an ongoing initiative to focus this issue with the public. Perhaps Brad Ross can add some “official” comments. I personally feel that this is long overdue.

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  31. I looked on the TTC website and looked for an updated schedule, showing whether the cuts have been made.

    I also haven’t heard or read anything in the media about the proposed Feb 15 cuts.

    Did the TTC have second thoughts, or have they delayed acting?

    Steve: You actually expect the website to be up to date? The new service summary is online buried in the Service Planning page, but the main page for service changes still shows the January changes.

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  32. Hello
    I am in the process of doing my job shadowing assignments and have an interview sheduled on April 9, 2009.It is my desire to complete all that is required of me to become a T.T.C. Transit Operator and have it become the job I will retire at.I feel confident that it will happen as long as I have a positive attitude and meet all the requirements which I feel I can.

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  33. Hi Steve,

    I have a question and I hope you can help me get an answer…

    Just about a year ago, I made it to the final stage/interview for “Transit Operator” and a week later, I got a devastating letter saying that they were not going to proceed with my candidacy for Transit Operator… I was given a number to follow up with my Interviewer, which I did… When I called my Interviewer I simply asked “Where did I go wrong and what improvements can I make, when I decide to re-apply?”

    The answer I got was very vague/cold. I was simply told that they don’t feel that I have the necessary skillset/requirements that they feel are necessary for a Transit Operator.

    I asked my Interviewer to be more specific and was told, that the information was covered at the information session and was given no more incite.

    Needless to say I have no idea where I faltered and where I can improve on. I was left wondering with no absolute answer. The only thing I can possibly think off, is that when I updated my resume it raised a red flag, Because I included work that was not originally listed when I first applied…

    Finally to my question: Can you tell me if they keep a file on failed applicants? The reason I ask is: I noticed on there application that they ask: “Have you received an interview for this position in the past” and “If so when?”

    Do they normally give second chances to failed applicants and if so any advice? Sorry for my rant, but when I received that rejection letter it was simply the worst day of my life.

    Sincerely,

    Mike

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  34. I got hired by TTC and suppose to start my training in January but then after a few months I got a letter that ttc had put training on hold for 4 to 9 months depending on how many drivers they need at a time. I am still waiting for the call from them. I would like to know if anyone has got a call from TTC who signed their paperwork in Nov 2009 or around that month. I hope some one or somebody’s friend has some information to share with me.
    Thanks.

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