The TTC has passed a proposed Operating Budget for 2013 including, in principle, a five-cent increase to the adult fare. This budget now goes to the City of Toronto’s Budget Committee and Council for discussion and approval of the 2013 operating subsidy.
There are two components to the budget report: the budget for the “regular” TTC system and the one for Wheel-Trans.
Item Regular Wheel-Trans ($000) ($000) Fare Revenue $1,061,000 $ 5,546 Other Income 67,106 Total Income $1,128,106 $ 5,546 Expenses $1,548,794 $ 102,488 Subsidy Required 420,688 96,942 Subsidy Available * 410,951 96,823 Shortfall 9,737 119
The “Subsidy Available” shown above is based on premise that the 2012 subsidy, adjusted for the cost of arbitrated labour settlements, will be provided as a “flat lined” City subsidy in 2013. TTC management intend to continue looking for savings within the budget to whittle down the shortfall. CEO Andy Byford is adamant that he does not want to cut service, and this is the first of many challenges for TTC supporters on Council.
The operating subsidy for the regular system in 2012 was $374.1m. Adjusting for arbitrated pay increases going back to April 2011, the “flat line” value for 2013 is $411.0m, an increase of 9.9% to bring 2010 rates up to 2013. It is entirely possible that budget hawks will want an absolute freeze in subsidies. If so, then the TTC would have a big hole to fill in its budget.
Service on the regular system will be increased to meet a projected ridership of 528-million, but there is no provision for improved loading standards or minimum service levels. This is a 2.7% increase over the projected 2012 ridership of 514m. Projections for 2013 only months ago set ridership at 520m, an unreasonably low figure. With the higher number, the budget does not have a built-in shortfall in planned service.
On Wheel-Trans, there is a one-time saving by the removal of ambulatory dialysis patients from the eligibility list. This was originally intended to happen in 2012, but the decision’s effect was staved off by diverting $5m intended as subsidy for regular service to the Wheel-Trans budget. TTC Chair Karen Stintz speaks of this as a “good news” story because it is claimed that alternative transport has been found for these riders. Whether this is true, or to what degree costs are being transferred back onto riders, remains to be seen. There were no deputations at the Commission Meeting on this subject.
The fare increase is half of the amount approved in principle during the 2012 budget debates when standard ten cent increases were proposed for years 2013-15. At a five cent level, the increase is 1.9% for adult token fares. On a weighted average basis across all fare types, the increase is 1.7%. (Cash and child fares are unchanged; senior/student fares go up by 2.9% because a five cents is a larger proportion of the 2012 fare than for adults.) The proposed new fare schedule is Appendix C of the budget report.
The shortfall could be eliminated by a ten cent fare increase which is projected to raise an additional $14m net of the effect of lost riding. For many years, TTC riding tracked employment levels in Toronto, but this relationship ended at about 2009. System usage continues to rise even though employment is stagnant through a combination of discretionary and off-peak riding. Metropass sales continue to climb because the pricing, net of various incentives including discounts for various groups and the transit tax rebate, make passes an attractive way to purchase transit service.
Attracting and keeping riders, especially for discretionary trips and off-peak periods when service is less frequent, requires that service not be slashed as a “quick fix” to budget problems. This link is utterly foreign to the budget hawks at Council who see only “the taxpayer” and the “cost” of transit without recognizing that transit riders pay taxes too, and that there are benefits to the city’s economy from the mobility at modest cost provided by the transit system.
Service improvements just to keep pace with projected demand are planned for March, September and October of 2013. Although these will cost about $20m, the cost is expected to be “more than offset by increase ridership and fare revenues” (Budget report, page 6). The “and” in that statement is essential. Higher fares will generate about $18m while ridership growth will yield about $39m of the projected $57m total farebox increase.
The total TTC workforce will grow by 268 in operations (service increases) and 2 in Wheel-Trans, and will fall by 149 in the capital side of the organization as the LRT projects are transferred to Metrolinx.
The budget report (at page 8) includes a familiar table of subsidy levels for the TTC and other systems in the GTA, Canada and the USA. At 87 cents per rider, the TTC subsidy is far below that of other systems, and the 70% cost recovery rate far higher. The nearest systems to the TTC are New York ($1.25/57%), Montreal ($1.28/56%) and Calgary ($1.39/53%). Most of TTC’s regular operating subsidy comes from the City (roughly $70m of provincial gas tax flows to the TTC through the City), and all of the Wheel-Trans subsidy comes from City funds.
In 2013, farebox revenue will cover about 68.5% of expenses with a further 4.3% coming from miscellaneous revenue for a total of 72.8% .
The budget report (pages 11-13) includes a long list of “operating efficiencies”. Some of these are one-time savings in the sense that further equivalent cuts are not available (e.g. transferring responsibility for the Toronto Coach Terminal on Bay Street to its primary tenants) while others can produce ongoing savings as the scale of implementation grows (e.g. conversion from 40-foot to 60-foot articulated buses).
Most contentious of these “efficiencies” is the contracting out of services that do not require specialized labour such as cleaning and garbage handling. The proposed contract to shift bus cleaning at two garages to a private contractor was approved by a vote of 4-3 with the deciding vote cast by Commissioner Josh Colle, a Councillor whose political support from organized labour has likely evaporated.
During the debate, Commissioner Cho raised the questions of how higher wages paid to TTC union staff would affect fares and whether riders should be expected to bear the cost. In fact, the total saving of outsourcing bus cleaning is expected to be $4.3m annually when the work is completely transferred to contract staff. Based on the projected $18m revenue from a five cent fare increase, the cost of leaving cleaning work with the Amalgamated Transit Union is just over a penny per fare.
Whether labour disruptions triggered by this move will more than offset the saving remains to be seen. ATU President Bob Kinnear has stated that the union may not renew an agreement with the TTC and the Ministry of Labour allowing operators to work 64-hour weeks, considerably higher than the 48-hour maximum in the Labour Standards Act.
The ATU pegs the cost of such a change at up to $10m annually as the TTC would have to add staff to cover work now done on overtime (but without marginal increase in benefits expense). TTC Chair Stintz dismissed this cost saying it would be only a few million. This begs the question of TTC overtime practices which are routinely defended by management and Commissioners as being the lower cost option compared with having more staff working shorter hours. The ATU will take this issue to its membership for a vote because a cutback in overtime will affect all who now take advantage of it.
The complete list talks of a $50m annual saving (or cost avoidance) , but the report mixes together one-time and multi-year cost reductions and does not indicate which categories are candidates for further efficiency. This is an important distinction because the effects of inflation and system growth cannot be offset by “efficiency” forever, and future budgets cannot presume on savings at a scale comparable to past years.
The budget report (page 15) talks of pro-forma projections for 2014-15, but these numbers are not included. However, the combined effects of inflation and other cost pressures are expected to produce a “significant challenge”. Just making do with flat-lined subsidies and fare freezes will not work unless Toronto is prepared for further decline in its transit system.
In the midst of multi-billion dollar proposals for new rapid transit networks, the Commission and Council must focus on the day-to-day operation and budget of the TTC. Anyone can draw lines on a map. Ensuring that buses and streetcars arrive frequently with room for all who wish to ride in reasonable comfort is much harder. Fighting for more revenue, be it taxes or fares, just to stay in the same place, let alone improve transit service, is a thankless job, but it is one those who claim to be transit advocates must face.
This was added about an hour after the original article was published.
I am often asked whether I support a fare increase, and my answer is inevitably “yes”. Although it would be wonderful to live in a world where money rains down on transit from various governments, that is not what will happen. The fight is just to keep what we have and keep pace with growing demand. A fare freeze undermines calls for better subsidies to provide better service and risks hobbling the TTC.
If there is a desire to subsidize transit costs for the less well-to-do, figure out how to fund such a program separately from overall fare levels. Many people are perfectly capable of paying higher fares, and they should. It is ironic that we provide lower-cost transit to groups based on age and status (seniors and students), but not on economic need.
Better transit service — reliability, frequency and capacity — is essential for “captive” riders who depend on the TTC to get around Toronto for work, school and family support trips. It is also essential for “selling” transit to those who could travel by car, and for sustaining political support for increased transit funding. “Why should I pay more and get less” is a familiar refrain, one the TTC’s funding partners often forget in their rush to “respect the taxpayers”.
Without question, Queen’s Park has not stepped up on the operating side ever since the Harris years when transit was abandoned completely. Toronto gets a paltry $70m in operating subsidy from gas taxes (the rest goes to capital projects and is inadequate on that score too), but nowhere near the 50/50 sharing of operating subsidies Toronto once knew. However, if we ever do see more Provincial money in Toronto, it must not simply be used as an offset against the City’s share, but as a way to enhance transit service.
In some mythical world with an enlightened national government in Ottawa, we might see operating funds, but far more likely would be an established program to provide capital subsidies for expansion and major infrastructure renewal.
Metrolinx is now considering its “Investment Strategy”, the problem of funding a huge build-out and operation of The Big Move’s transit map. Additional challenges lie in local transit all over the GTA where transit service carries a fraction of the travel market of Toronto, and yet local transit is an essential part of moving around the region.
Toronto Council wants to explore regional funding with its neighbours in the 905. All of this investment in building and operations will not be cheap, but it must not divert attention from the need for better funding and service within Toronto itself. Staying as good as we were last year is not enough. That was the idea behind the Ridership Growth Strategy and Transit City despite their faults, and much has been lost in the blind hatred of any Miller-era plans by the Ford crew at City Hall. The challenge for Council is to address what transit can do, what a real “transit city” can be.
Although I suspect this is not part of the operations budget, happened across this report on planned second exits. Supposedly these were to have been completed by last year but I have heard nothing about them — emailed the commission but wondered if anyone else had a line on any news.
Steve: This sort of thing is in the Capital Budget, not Operating. Most of these projects have been deferred for various reasons, mainly cutbacks in the available funding.
Castle Frank has been under construction seemingly forever. There are supposed to be site problems, but I can’t help thinking that there are also issues with the contractor’s performance. The completion date on posters in the station has been updated repeatedly, and now says “Fall 2012”.
Wellesley and College are on hold for budgetary reasons. Museum’s exit was to be built as part of a condo project on the Planetarium site, but this project was not approved by Council.
If you want to talk construction delays look no further than Lawrence west and its seemingly unfinishable elevator!
TTS subsidy is $0.87/rider.
The 2012 transit ridership (514m) and TTS’s mode share data (54% auto driver and 27% transit) implies the number of auto trips driver in 2012 was 1,184,000. The roads department’s operating budget in 2012 was $1,076,300 … or $0.91/trip.
So, transit is less subsidised that the roads!
Steve: There’s the teensy matter of the capital budgets, but by your calculations cyclists and pedestrians travel free!
It’s sad that transit users in Toronto are facing the possibility of service disruptions because of an effort to contract out staff services that only amounts to saving 1 cent or thereabouts.
To me it is a sure sign that ideologies (on different sides) are going to continue to be the Achilles heel of this city for the future.
I’m curious to know the components of the “other income” line (perhaps the transfer of the Toronto Coach Terminal is one component) that appears in the TTC Budget but not the Wheel Trans budget. Are there opportunities for Wheel Trans to generate “other income” that could help in their budget?
You also mentioned increasing efficiencies such as the move to 60′ / 18m articulated buses which should bring savings in the future as service is scaled up. I’m curious, have the new Wheel Trans “Friendly Buses” (which are larger than the Wheel Trans buses I remember) brought increased efficiencies to Wheel Trans?
Finally, it becomes more and more clear that the governments of the GTA should have had that discussion about public transit & fares a long, long time ago. Maybe the time has finally come that they will recognize that and sit down at the table.
This is certainly an area where leadership from Metrolinx could make a huge difference.
Steve: The details are in the TTC report (in the appendices) linked from the article. The other income includes:
None of these lends itself to the Wheel-Trans environment. As for the Coach Terminal, most of the time it lost money, and there is an accumulated deficit on the TTC’s books. It will be cleared eventually when the site is sold for redevelopment.
As for Metrolinx, the word “leadership” is rarely found in the same sentence with all significant decisions coming from Queen’s Park.
I had a conversation with someone from the TTC over twitter a while back about Castle Frank, apparently it had something to do with Asbestos … I’d imagine that the contractor wasn’t dealing with it properly.
Steve: Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like a “soil condition” problem as described on the TTC’s page for this project.
In any case it looks like the new station at Castle Frank is open for business (for customers of the non-paying variety) … there were a number of raccoons in there last night … looks like they were getting it sufficiently messy so that when the people come in they wouldn’t get any ideas about how clean the system could actually be.
Steve: No doubt they have mastered the art of cheating on their transfers too.
Because TTC fares have been irresponsibly frozen haphazardly for populist reasons against most, if not all, professional advice, and for the policy to now be only to hike fares at the rate of inflation only continues to kick the can down the road. Fares have major catching up to do to make up for abandoned increases in the years there have been fare freezes, so when they were talking about $0.10 increases annually.
I say this as a captive rider – I’d be paying these higher fares myself, too.
That said, I’ve repeatedly supported the idea in past comments here of a special transit pass geared towards the lower income groups that would appear on the City’s budget and not the TTC’s; it’s ridiculous to expect the TTC to skewer its own budget by subsidizing ALL riders (including even the most well-off choice riders) for the sake of the vulnerable minority. These people should be looked after, but at the City’s expense instead of the TTC’s. This would reduce some of the PR headaches and improve the financial sustainability for operating TTC service.
Car drivers receive substantial subsidies in addition to the roads department’s operating budget. These range from the cost of providing car parking to the health-care costs due to the lethal poisons in car pollution.
Good sources include Donald Shoup’s paper “The high cost of free parking“.
Mr. Shoup also wrote a book with the same title. I highly recommend it.
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, has produced a report on the costs of the lethal poisons in car pollution. By way of these lethal poisons, Toronto’s car drivers:
*Kill 440 people each year,
*Injure 1,700 people so seriously that they have to be hospitalized,
*Cause 1,200 acute bronchitis attacks in children every year,
*Cause 68,000 asthma symptom days in children every year,
*Inflict $2.2 billion in mortality costs every year.
Note that the annual Toronto mortality costs alone are over twice the annual Toronto roads department’s operating budget.
The annual costs of absenteeism and lost productivity due to people being injured or dying from being poisoned by car drivers has been estimated at over $100 million. This number does not include absenteeism and lost productivity due to parents being forced to take time off work to care for their children that were poisoned and seriously harmed by car drivers.
Cars have also been known to hit people, resulting in high mortality and health care costs. A significant portion of the Toronto police, fire and ambulance budgets should be allocated to car drivers.
Add it all up, and the per trip subsidy handed out to car drivers is well over $5.00 per trip.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t New York’s 57% cost recovery include counting debt service from the capital program as an operating expense? See their most recent budget, where I’ve calculated it as 67% (second page of section II MTA Consolidated 2012-2016 Financial Plan)
Steve: Yes, they do. This is a major problem when the TTC compares itself to other properties because the basis of accounting is not always identical. With the debt on transit infrastructure spread between the city, province and federal governments (not to mention allowing for capital-from-current), it is very difficult to figure out what the “all in” TTC number should be. At the Metrolinx/GO level, it will be even harder as Queen’s Park hides debt and interest cost in future operating budgets through “partnerships”. The figures I quoted are taken from the TTC’s report, and it would be useful for this comparison to be made on as equal a footing as possible.
While I wouldn’t argue that the TTC has a high cost recovery rate, it seems these comparisons often don’t specify whether Capital debt is off-book or included as an operating expenses. If the TTC had the debt service related to their capital program that’s currently on the City’s books included in their operating budget, do you know what the cost recovery ratio would look like? Or, conversely, how would other North American transit authorities who do count their debt as an operating expense look in comparison to the TTC?
Steve: Definitely better. However, it’s worth remembering that in many cases the debt and the revenue to service this is covered by a separate tax stream such as a local sales tax. This too must be factored into any comparison.
One thing we have to watch out for with the 3Ps and Metrolinx is the migration of debt service charges into the fare base as a hidden operating cost. Queen’s Park is still going to carry the majority of the cost of the new lines, but there will be some component financed by the private partner(s).
Has the contract for the Articulated buses been awarded?
Steve: Yes. See this report from the last Commission Meeting.
While it will take a long time before fare increases will make using the TTC unattractive, it should not be done without a thorough explanation to its customers. After the last 10 fare increases, has the hard product or even soft product improved? The TTC should be improving all the time. For example, before the introduction of the 199 Rocket Bus, a trip on the 39E would have taken 5 more minutes. At the same time, overcrowding has increase verbal fights amongst passengers.
Steve: As you should very well know, the standards for TTC service were actually cut during the past two budget cycles thanks to the Ford/Stintz imposed freezes on TTC subsidies. You can’t expect the organization to put out statements or service announcements to this effect.
This is why the TTC should break down the component of the fares like other private companies. The base rate for companies like Purolator and Air Canada has not changed for years. If the TTC can maintain a constant base rate and charge a fuel surcharge and improvement fee separately, it will be much easier to compare performance over the years. It is also much easier to justify fuel surcharge increases. With Presto, the TTC can even readjusted fuel surcharge on a weekly basis.
Steve: You seem to have omitted the largest component of additional costs — labour. The TTC workforce received an arbitrated increase in their new status as “essential” workers. Also, as riding and service grows (in spite of the cut in quality), this generally does not happen on a break-even or profit-making basis and so the cost of business rises just to provide the same level of service.
It is funny how air travel cost has more or less remain constant. A peak season return ticket on AC001/002 (YYZ to NRT) has always cost about $1700 CAD with taxes. AC has looked for ways to increasing revenues like selling branded luggage, selling duty free in flight and selling lounge access. It is sad to see the video screens on the T35A08 trains displaying thank you message to the senior levels of governments. That screen could be displaying ads. Where are the TTC branded toys?
Steve: The TTC has never made money on branded merchandise, and even if they had better marketing, this would not offset the tens of millions of new money required each year just to keep pace with inflation. Your love for the airline industry which has the option of charging extra for all sorts of things is amusing. Maybe we should start charging extra for trains and buses with seats on them, and have a luggage charge for baby carriages. A baby would not fly free, but it can take up space and hamper the operation of a transit vehicle at no charge. I am sure this would be immensely popular. One other point about airlines — they go bankrupt from time to time.
On subsidy for car vs. transit and Steve’s legitimate point about capital… how far back should go? I would like to take the capital costs of creating the road network versus costs of creating the transit network – and I suspect roads would come out much higher (both total and per trip). (Of course, many roads are used by transit and cars, which complicates my simplistic point).
On cyclists and pedestrians… sidewalks and bikeways have to be maintained, so the cost of those isn’t zero – but it almost certainly far lower than either transit or car trips.
Steve: I was being ironic. After all, in these days when I suspect even a motorist who doesn’t drive a gas-guzzling SUV is suspected of being a flaming lefty, we all know that cyclists and pedestrians are a terrible burden on the taxpayer!
Steve, lack of funding is a chronic problem for the TTC. There is no argument about that. However, we should also be creative in looking for the solution. The Royal Canadian Navy is starved for funding too, but they cannot use that excuse not to provide offensive and defensive capabilities to Canadians. If they have no money to build a battleship to protect the coast, they can still use that money to buy better anti ship missiles to achieve the same objective.
The question is why does it cost so much to provide transit service in Toronto? Has the TTC look into ways to redeploy existing revenues to invest in cost saving measures? Karen Stintz said that the T35A08 trains are ATO ready, but the TTC are running it with a two men crew. Why must everything be done in house with their own employees? Functions like HR can be outsourced. The regular workforce can be supplemented with part time workers for the rush hour surges. If the TTC says that we have done x to reduce our cost this year, and we need to increase fares by y to provide this list of improved service or product, the conversation will be much easier.
Air Canada is far from my favorite airline. Given a choice, I would prefer to fly ANA or JAL. I use it as a comparison because they operate in the harshest business envrionment. However, given their constraints, they are ranked number 1 in North America by Skytrax. Do you think the TTC will be ranked number 1 by a similar rating service. The answer is no. People dress up to fly to board their Pan Am flights. Roast beef was carved on Pan Am flights. We need to ask what has lead to this massive decline. To see people consuming alcohol, cheating with transfers makes me very sad. Taking transit should be a choice because it is a solid product. It is not a social service. A solid product will always be able to comment a better price. A quick check on Expedia shows that ANA can command a $200 premium on a YYZ to NRT return ticket even though it is a one stop flght versus the direct Air Canada flight.
The day TTC operators give up their overtime cash is the day I eat my hat.
In response to Benny Cheung:
This was the primary reason in 1989 for a 41 day work to rule campaign!! As long as I am an operator and member of ATU113: over my dead body!!!! I will willingly participate in ANY job action to protect full time operator positions!! Part timers will be paid less, have no benefits, have no pension! This will serve to erode full time positions!! This is the same battle we are now engaged in against “contracting out” of the maintenance positions. The fewer full time positions, the more our benefits, and more importantly, our pensions will suffer!! Your suggestion opens the door to a massive disruption of the TTC; we have fought this battle before (and won!!). We are prepared to fight this battle again!!!
The T35A08 trains are indeed ATO ready. There’s just one minor snag: The signal system of the YUS line is not ATO ready (yet – it’s in the pipe). Both need to be ATO ready, else ATO doesn’t happen.
Steve: There’s another snag. The TTC still does not have enough TRs on order to operate the entire extended YUS with this fleet, let alone improve the frequency of service. The Spadina extension budget does not even have money in it for ATO and trains will be driven manually north of Downsview when the line opens even if the rest of YUS has been converted.
… blah, blah ad nauseum. Benny Cheung, your comment sure opened up a can of worms with the rather defiant Union boys … Gord, wonderful customer service sir … you are somebody that really cares I see. There is nothing wrong with hiring part-timers … it is done in every industry and why should it not be done here? I’m sorry but I do not see the need to pay cleaners $27 and hour when significant savings can be had by hiring ‘regular’ people to clean. If management is not allowed to manage, there will be no expansion.
Steve: Please note that if this thread descends into a series of union-bashing remarks, they will be deleted. The point about management having the right to manage is a valid one, but as I noted in my article, the question always is whether the choice made with the cleaners is the right one in the context of labour-management relations and for the overall costs a frostier environment might bring. We won’t know for sure until we see which side “blinks”.
How many bus routes did the original IKarus Artic use when the total was 90?
Steve: According to the Board Period summary for November 25, 1990, artics were assigned as follows (vehicle counts are AM Peak):
Brimley North – 7
Finch East (part) – 57 (breakdown not shown)
Islington – 18
Steeles West – 22
Thorncliffe Park – 7
Van Horne – 9
If someone is getting paid $27 an hour to clean then simply make sure they are providing $27 an hour worth of service. Managing a workforce efficiently does not require turning every position into retail/mc-jobs. You can protest that this won’t happen but it is the end-game as far as business and politicians are concerned the moment the handcuffs come off.
As someone who has been forced out of his skilled career by unnecessary downsizing into the retail environment I take great personal offense to the insensitive comments around contracting out. I don’t really care if unions are involved or not – the only reason I wasn’t slave labour in the film industry, as happened to most people not fortunate enough to be represented, was because of a union. The only reason I’m getting paid okay in my current retail job is because my employer is terrified of the prospect of a union.
The entire economy is moving in a direction that will force almost everyone to work until the day they die. Eventually tax revenues are going to crash and nothing will work any more. Imagine a new depression where not even government has the cash left to prop-up failed businesses or provide the basic services we need. Unions will not be responsible for bankrupting the entire system.
sorry Steve. I took offense to Gord’s response and felt there was no need for him to be that militant ie> over my dead body, willingly participate in ANY job action, …same battle, massive disruptions, fought this battle before, prepared to fight this battle again. I felt this was nothing more than pro-Union propaganda and did nothing to further this discussion thread.
I see now that my response also added nothing really to the discussion so I’m sorry. I do not care one way or another whether union or non-union. To me it’s like the colour of the bus…does anyone really care? no! just want the bus to come when it is supposed to. I believe that the role of management is to manage, and if they feel that they can provide better service by contracting out whatever positions than please go ahead. and save us some money. If it turns out down the road that this was the wrong decision, than it’s wrong. Sometimes you do have to try and sometimes you do step on some toes. Welcome to the big-boy’s world.
All I’ll say on the labour front is that where public and political (municipal and provincial) support lies makes a difference in what is and is not realistic for each side. What happened in 1989 is not an indicator of what may happen over two decades later. Both sides should tread carefully and consider all outcomes.
Steve, I will leave one additional comment here and then I will not participate in any “Union” discussion that may develop.
In response to William Paul, I would ask: why shouldn’t we (the membership of ATU113) fight to protect our jobs? You seem to suggest that because it is and has happened elsewhere, we should just roll over and die and accept it. In terms of the somewhat personal attack you made on me “..wonderful customer service sir…” – you don’t know me. I am in receipt of 2 – 3 customer commendations every month; I cannot remember the last time that I had a customer complaint filed against me. I have been awarded the TTC’s “Award of Excellence” for my “Outstanding contribution to maintaining the TTC standard of excellence for the citizens of Toronto” (as stated on the Award). I truly enjoy being a Bus Operator; I do the “little extras” to make sure that my passengers are well served!
That said, I will also do whatever I have to do to protect my job! The idea of part timers and contracting out go against the idea of having secure employment. This could only lead to a downward spiral of lower wages, reduced benefits, reduced pensions. So yes, I will fight against it!! I do not want to cause harm to the passengers; there are many ways that we can “work to rule” that the average passenger will never be aware of. Keep in mind, there are many areas of the TTC’s procedures that we can cut corners on, and do, in order to keep the service running. We will basically follow the rule book to the letter!! Trust me, if we follow the rule book to the letter, the management side will be in chaos!
Some people may find the behaviour of some of the large unions rather militant but this is a required counterbalance to the unreasonable forcefulness of the political and private business side. Everyone likes to throw out the word “compromise” without understanding that the political side will never truly be reasonable in this respect.
The only thing that prevents the gutting of living wage pay and positive work environment is the presence and strong response of the unions. You may not like it but they have proven time and again to be a “necessary evil”. If they fall, so eventually does everyone else in a death by a thousand cuts.
I do not believe you can look at the contracting out of cleaning staff in isolation, I believe the plan is to continue to outsource staff through greater attrition so the present value of potential future savings should be estimated. I also think management has to ignore any threat of work to rule from the union, that is no way to conduct a business. As Kent Lee pointed out Kinnear’s sunshine list friends won’t be giving up their overtime so that threat is idle.
I really do not have an opinion on unions. Not all union shops are lazy and overpaid and likewise not all private sector are efficient. No matter where the employee work, governments or corporations can pay only so much based on revenues. Since the TTC nor GO Transit does not provide earnings guidance or annual reports, I do not have much information on them. This is why the aviation sector is useful since all information are publicly available.
Steve: Both the TTC and Metrolinx produce annual reports, but these do not include wage rates. I don’t think that sort of thing is particularly common in the private sector either.
Air Canada employees are paid the highest in North America. They are an union shop just like its peers (United, American Airlines). At the same time, Air Canada employees are also the most efficient at their job. This is why their wages are justified. If the defined benefit pension problem, Air Canada should be profitable. If TTC employees want $27 per hour or even $50 per hour, I have no problem with that. As long as they out perform their sector peers, more power to them. If a bus driver can drive more runs in a given time, why not the higher wages?
This does not mean that mainline wages and services is right for every route. Some leisure routes by nature have very low yields or seasonal. Contracting out to a lower cost division makes sense. Routes like the 169 and 42A do not run all day which is indicative of the low yield and low ridership. Should routes such as those be run by a lower cost division to save money?
Contracting out cleaning duties is not the end of the world. There is nothing preventing the employees to form their own union. Look at Pearson International, the screening agents worked for a company called Gurda. They have their own union. The TTC is in the business of moving people. It is not a social tool to raise the standard of living of the community.