Updated February 21 at 8:20 pm:
I have now assembled data on the TTC workforce going back from 2007 to 1990 and have, I believe, created as good a presentation of this as we are likely to see. Some readers may not agree. That’s their option.
There are two problems in going back over a long series of data like this:
- There were fundamental changes in the way the TTC reported its staffing over the period 1990-1996. Some of this arose from structural reorganization, some from changes in accounting practices. The numbers must be adjusted to place them on an equal footing.
- Many people worked on capital projects on a contract basis either directly for the TTC or for companies engaged by them. This is particularly the case for major design projects such as subways and new buildings. These people do not show up in TTC headcounts.
I have produced two charts which show the relationship of staff, budget allocation area and riding over the period 1990-2007. (2008 and 2009 will be added when I dig out details for those years.)
The first chart shows the major groups of employees:
- Operations: These departments are responsible for running service and maintaining vehicles and infrastructure. For 1990-91, the engineering staff are included in this number.
- Wheel Trans (W/T): There is an anomalous drop in 1995 which I suspect is an error, but the value used comes from the budget for that year. The staff reappear in 1996.
- Administration: These departments are a separate branch only until 1993. Thereafter, they are rolled into the respective branches which they support. The jump in “operations” in 1994 reflects the assignment of most of “administration” to that group.
- Capital: Starting in 1992, the engineering staff were reported separately from plant maintenance, and I have assigned them to “capital”. A few years later, the capital staff for all departments were identified explicitly in the budgets.
- Toronto Coach Terminal Inc. (TCTI): This is the Bay Street bus terminal whose staff were formerly reported separately. TCTI is all that remains of the old Gray Coach Lines Ltd.
The second chart shows the annual ridership and the ratio of riders to “operations” staff. A few important points:
- For the years when “administration” was a separate branch (until 1993), the headcount is included pro-rata in “operations” for the purpose of calculating the ratio. (The “pro-rata” allocation is based on the apparent redistribution of the admin staff in 1994, a year when nothing else changed much.)
- Ridership follows a long decline to its nadir in 1996 by which time the TTC had managed to lose 100m riders relative to its high point in 1988. Reports from the early 90s when management talks about stopping the downward spiral make sobering reading when we consider what actually happened.
- The ratio of rides to operations staff followed the same trend from 1990-92. This indicates that riding was falling, but staffing was not on a proportionate basis. Thereafter, due to staff cuts, the ratio rose until 2,000. From 2003 onward, both ridership and rides/staff have grown indicating that staff is not increasing as fast as ridership.
- The ratio of rides to operations staff in 2007 is slightly higher than in 1990.
During this period, new groups were formed to deal with a number of safety issues and transit policing. Moreover, there was a recognition after the 1995 subway crash at Russell Hill that “state of good repair” needed serious attention. This corresponds to the point where the capital workforce begins to grow. More recently, other projects such as the subway extensions, Transit City and station renewal have come into play.
Another issue is the distribution of increases between management and front line staff. A 2007 TTC report on workforce history gives this breakdown for 1997-2007. It also includes a description of the additions to salaried positions (broadly speaking management and administration) over the decade. (The report in question is part of the TTC meeting agenda for September 12, 2007. However, these appendices are not included with the online version.)
In the Operations group, the number of salaried staff rose from 1,553 to 1,805, or 16%. During the same period, the number of hourly-paid staff (union positions, almost all operators and maintenance workers) rose from 6,963 to 8,030, or 15%.
The proportionate increases in the Capital group were larger (55% in management/admin, 249% in hourly). Some may argue that “operations” staff and costs are being hidden in the Capital budget. Some shift may be happening, but I don’t believe that is the entire explanation. Without a detailed review of TTC staff allocations over many years and the assignment of projects as “operations” or “capital”, this is a very difficult question to answer. Certainly, it is worthwhile understanding how these numbers evolve for future years’ budgets.
The original material in this post follows the break. It should be read with care in light of the more detailed figures I have presented above.
Updated February 19 at 1:00 am: Based on information in a comment from Adam Kretschmann, I am tentatively revising the conclusions of the post below. It appears that the way in which the TTC reported its staff in 1990 was different from that used today in that a group now reported separately may have been rolled into the total complement in the earlier data. If this is so, then on an equal reporting basis, the number of TTC staff has grown over the two decades, not stayed flat as I had written earlier.
A number of issues remain to be resolved and I will seek more information from the TTC with whom I had checked my original premise before I posted the article. As more information comes to light, I will update this article, or rewrite it as appropriate.
Original February 17 post:
In yesterday’s National Post, Peter Kuitenbrouwer, commenting on the City’s budget, made this statement:
The TTC, by far the city’s biggest employer, now has a payroll of about 12,500 people, but transports the same number of riders as it did 20 years ago, when it had 25% fewer employees. (Full article, typo in quoted text corrected here)
That’s the material of great sound bites, and I have heard this claim in various forms for a few years. There is only one problem.
It isn’t correct.
In the City Budget Analyst Notes for the TTC, the table on page 17 shows that the total workforce for the “conventional system” approved for 2010 is 10,491, down from 10,587 in 2009. The Wheeltrans workforce goes up from 462 to 530. This gives a total workforce of 11,021.
TTC ridership for 2009 was 471m. It was originally projected to drop to 462m, but may come in over budget as riding is still growing a bit after the recent fare increase.
In 1990, the TTC budgeted for 472m riders, but actually carried only about 460m riders. The budgeted workforce (averaged over the year taking into account seasonal staff) totalled 10,685 of which 10,315 were in the conventional system and 370 were in Wheeltrans.
Relative to 1990, the conventional system’s workforce is almost unchanged (an increase of 1.7%) even though there are new groups, such as Special Constables, which did not exist 20 years ago. The growth in Wheeltrans is a direct result of policies aimed at reducing the unfilled call rate for that service and of bringing in house some services that were provided, poorly, by private operators.
Claiming that the TTC has grown to a bloated size makes good copy, but comparison with the actual budget documents tells a different story.