Five Years, Seven Goals: Where Will The TTC Be In 2018

TTC CEO Andy Byford addressed the Empire Club on May 13, 2013 setting out a strong argument for political and financial support for the transit system (full text at the Torontoist site).  After last week’s debacle at Council where almost nobody took any sense of responsibility for the future of transit beyond their own doorsteps, arguing for the TTC is a hard battle.

On one hand, we have an intensely local debate at the ward, if not the neighbourhood level, with the worst of petulant “I-want-a-subway-too” politics.

On the other, the region and the province are preoccupied with funding a large-scale plan that happens to have a spin-off for local transit, but one that will only give Toronto a fraction of what it costs to run and maintain the TTC today, let alone make substantive improvements.

In some ways, the TTC has been its own worst enemy managing on one hand to alienate potential supporters with poor community relations, unreliable budgeting and declining service quality, but on the other managing to attract riders and be more financially “efficient” in spite of itself.  When political support for better funding and service is needed, the “success story” is that the TTC has managed to cram more riders into fewer buses and streetcars.

This is not a sustainable approach to transit.  Growth – which has come disproportionately in off-peak periods when there is still some capacity in parts of the system – cannot continue on this basis.

Byford will formally launch a Five Year Plan for the TTC in the week of May 27, 2013, but his speech gives a broad outline of his goals.  Are they enough, or is there too much concentration on the decor while the house rots around us?

Byford’s plan has seven goals under which a range of activities will be grouped.  These are:

  • Safety
  • Customer service
  • People and management
  • Asset management including service quality
  • System growth
  • Financial sustainability
  • Improved TTC reputation and community engagement

Inevitably in a large organization, there will be overlaps between these major headings, but from Byford’s remarks there is also an acknowledgement that they exist and that improvements in one area affect performance elsewhere.

At yesterday evening’s York Quay Neighbourhood Association meeting, Byford spoke in detail about three areas within the organization: processes, equipment and people.

Some of the TTC’s internal processes are, and these are Byford’s words, archaic and bureaucratic.  Systems and practices exist to serve the organization, the “production” of service rather than the customers who ride it.  A well-known example is the short-turning of vehicles to get operators back on time, and Byford talked of the need to split this so that operators can short-turn without interrupting passenger trips (this is already done to some extent on the subway and at times on the 501 Queen car).  Fare disputes now cause vehicles to stop (and in the case of streetcars all following service) while waiting for “the cavalry” to arrive.  This must change to focus on keeping service moving.

Equipment and infrastructure will undergo major changes in the subway (TR trains, automatic train control, the Spadina extension, the Union Station 2nd platform), on the streetcar system (with a new fleet) and the bus system (with the reintroduction of higher-capacity articulated buses).  Track upgrades in the subway are needed so that the full benefit of ATC can be realized rather than having trains poke through slow orders.

Presto will bring smart card fare collection to the TTC (with credit card support to follow) beginning on the new streetcars and spreading to the rest of the system.  The transition will be complex because of the need to support both the new and old fare media and protocols at the same time.

Service levels with new, larger vehicles will be a challenge because of the debate over how to use increased capacity.  Should the TTC replace capacity or vehicles one for one, or something in between?  This question has not yet been answered and depends in part on the budgetary stance taken by transit supporters in the 2014 City Budget debates.

Of the three areas, people and management are the most difficult.  If the TTC implements all of its planned changes in other areas, but still has poor service and inconsistent relationships with its riders, the organization will have failed.  However, Byford argues that how people are managed affects how they behave, how they treat customers.  TTC management is on notice that the TTC “culture” must change.

When Byford came to Toronto, he found the worst of all possible situations – good people, of whom there are many in the TTC, were ignored while the bad ones “got away with murder”.  Now he has buy-in from the transit union that the offenders will not escape.  Whether he will be as successful with his management and decades of a top-down mentality is another matter.  (During the few years I worked for the TTC in the late 1960s, there was still a strong hangover from the military attitudes of a war that was over two decades in the past.  The TTC does not change quickly.)

Byford wants a culture of accountability at the top and the bottom of the organization.  “Bad things can happen”, says Byford, when this is missing.  The not-my-job attitude, the finger-pointing is inevitable when avoiding blame is more important than fixing a problem.

The recently appointed Group Station Managers will become “one stop shops” for Councillors, BIAs and community groups, and will get to know the neighbourhoods they serve.  Internal and external co-ordination should improve too if Byford’s plans work out.  Later in the evening, as I discussed in another article, lots of confusion remained about the status of the Queens Quay and Spadina streetcar services and related projects.  Hopeful words maybe, but Byford doesn’t have this under control yet.

At this point, we have a quick overview of some of what Andy Byford hopes to achieve at the TTC.  When the full plan comes out, please, let there be more detail and specifics about targets to be achieved, about concrete improvements riders will see and feel in their daily travels.  The “quick wins”, the low-hanging fruit such as vehicle and station cleanliness are a good start and show what can be done with some effort, but the big task is to make the TTC a system people want to ride, not one that is a reluctant choice.

For this Byford will need public and political support, and certainly more money.  Some savings will be found in areas such as better line management (getting better capacity out of what’s already on the street) and in one-time changes such as a move to one-man crews on the Yonge-University subway.  But that’s no substitute for a recognition by management and by politicians that transit must be more than a bare minimum, a service we provide grudgingly.

Prattling on about the poor “taxpayers” and “making do for the greater good” forgets that everyone benefits from better transit service whether they use it or not.  That’s the message we hear in calls for better regional funding and large-scale capital projects, and we need to hear it just as loudly for day-to-day service.

The most important goal Byford could include in his detailed plan will be a view of what transit service will be like in five years on the TTC with better and reliable frequencies, less crowding, and a sense that Toronto is providing the best it can.

22 thoughts on “Five Years, Seven Goals: Where Will The TTC Be In 2018

  1. I may have missed you discussing it at some point, but I wasn’t aware you’d ever worked for the TTC. I for one would be fascinated to hear about it, both for your experiences and a historical perspective on the TTC of the 60s.

    Steve: I did clerical work at Hillcrest for two years, then at Eglinton Division (the old Traffic office just north of Berwick) for a year. I had wanted to get into Planning, but Transportation didn’t want to let me go. Even then, it was an organization where people who wanted to do things didn’t stick around.


  2. I hope Andy does not get caught by the type of bureaucracy that keeps agreeing to everything requested of them while doing everything to preserve their own little fiefdoms. We do not need a Toronto version of “Yes Minister.”

    I think that the politicians who arranged Webster’s ouster may have gotten more than they bargained for. Byford appears to be good at getting good reviews of his actions such as wading through the flooded Union Station, visiting the station agent who was shot and generally getting out to meet the people. I am not saying that he is doing what he does for the publicity but because he recognizes that the TTC needs a person who appears to be, and actually is, listening to the concerns of the public. I wish him all the best.


  3. From Torontoist:

    Byford said that he “will not accept that bunching of vehicles is inevitable, that the short-turning of vehicles is inevitable.”



  4. Now I understand why he wanted his title changed to “CEO”. He’s thinking and acting like one.

    I really don’t know how to make this fit in my mind with the fact that it was Rob Ford who pushed this guy into power.


  5. I remain hopeful, and am increasingly convinced that Andy Byford is the best thing to happen to the TTC in a generation. (well, since Steve Munro)

    As noted there is a mountain more work to do, far more to be accomplished; what has happened thus far was, in relative terms ‘the easy stuff’.

    But pre-Byford, washrooms were left to rot, cleaning was ad hoc and inadequate at best, and there were no end of excuses for just about everything.

    Subsequently there have been real, if small improvements; and there does seem to be a move towards fewer excuses and greater accountability.

    Now comes the hard part; getting political buy in, a meaningful subsidy increase and then predictable, and at least inflationary increases in budget thereafter.

    Good luck to him!


  6. If Byford wants to effectively implement change in the TTC he must first get a handle on the Top Heavy management structure. Hiring station managers, station supervisors will do nothing but be ambassadors to hear customer complaints. Will these managers clean a washroom or dirty tiles, empty garbage, pick up blowing newspapers that cause track fires & subway delays? The TTC has begun reducing maintenance staff & contracting out maintenance services. How will these station mangers & supervisors be able to instruct those contracted workers to clean on the fly or alter maintenance schedules when a situation occurs when those workers are not TTC employees?

    The TTC has contracted out bus fuelling/cleaning in 2 garages and the rest to be contracted out later this year BUT the contractor only cleans buses until 6am so if a bus needs cleaning (unsanitary condition, late returning night bus or bus returning from service after repairs completed) after 6 am there is no contracted out bus cleaners available to clean & fuel the buses thus leaving the TTC with a lack of equipment.

    Byford must repair the damaged relationship between [the TTC’s] workers (Union) and management if his plan is to be successfully implemented. It’s the workers who are the front-line customer service representatives and they must not start a day in fear of their jobs being contracted out or heavy handed disciplinary culture of the TTC that poisons the work environment. If an operator starts the day in a sour mood that will be reflected in the customer service that the operator will provide. The TTC must work with the union as PARTNERS not adversaries! In all of the press releases or meet the managers at stations not once have I seen Bob Kinnear or a union representative present to show that Byford’s vision is a partnership and an overall team effort. How can Byford believe his customer service first vision is implemented if the front-line workers (union) aren’t a partner in that vision? Has Byford consulted his workers for their input seeing that they do the job daily & might have some insight into how to improve operations & customer service? Until Byford stops this attack on the union (essential service, contracting out, unjust & un-investigated discipline the union says is happening) then all his efforts to change customer service vision will be for naught.

    How can the TTC tell the public they are reducing costs by contracting out bus cleaning, (misquote the savings now at yet to be seen $2.9M not $4.2M that was preached during September’s TTC Commission meeting/vote) then hire 24 station managers and want to hire station supervisors also at a cost of over $4.0M?

    The TTC & ATU113 are now in the final year of their current collective agreement and contracting out union jobs will be a huge roadblock in any partnership that Byford needs to forge if he is to be successful in his customer service overhaul. During the 2012 collective agreement arbitration hearing the TTC argued heavily to have the union job protection clause by contracting out removed and argued for a 4 year wage freeze yet the Ontario Liberal Government is only asking its union workers for a 2 year wage freeze. That kind of heavy handed approach will NOT forge a partnership with its workers (union) and only poisoned the work environment which is then passed along to its customers.

    The TTC needs to communicate better with its bus operators about system delays so the bus operator can announce delays to customers over the bus PA system giving customers a chance to use alternative routes before being notified & trapped in the subway tunnel.

    If you are going to ask people to pay more taxes for transit then the TTC must be prepared to provide good customer service and increase service levels so 5 full buses don’t pass customers at stops. The thinking of using larger vehicles but less of them will only increase wait times (Headway) and the overcrowding of those vehicles will still exist doing nothing to improve service standards or customer service.

    Byford must break ranks from Rob Ford and Karen Stintz if he wants to honestly obtain his objectives otherwise we’ll have larger vehicles but less of them with the same issues we have now and a workforce (union) that is not partners in this new vision.


  7. Correct me if I am wrong Steve and no offense to Brian but this is not the place to be spouting all of that pro-Union stand. I personally am not on either side, I just want better transit period. I do not recall anyone using 60-lines (as Brian did) to union bash on this forum. All of that 113-TTC stuff is internal between you all. None of my concern. I just want more streetcars to show up, and show up when they are supposed to.

    Steve: I read Brian’s comment in a different light. One of the big problems Byford has is that directions and policies given at his level don’t necessarily filter down to the street as intended, and his hope that employees who do good work will be respected may not be borne out as a result. The TTC has a history of making arbitrary rules for its operations that take a one-size-fits-all approach and don’t allow for variation. The most common complaint operators make is that if they follow the rules to the letter, they are disciplined for a lack of sensitivity, but if they make exceptions (for example in dealing with riders), they are disciplined for failing to toe the line. This is a lose-lose situation that gives employees the sense they are never right, and shouldn’t bother.


  8. I spoke with Andy earlier at the TTCriders Town Hall and we got to talking about the Lawrence West Elevator. He was mentioning that the tilers working on Pape Station may be going on strike thereby delaying construction and I joked that it may take as long to get it done as it is to put an elevator in Lawrence West.

    He stated that this is one of the things he will be including in his charter i.e. construction delays.

    We also spoke about the need for prolonged closures when it comes to construction and he seemed open to the idea of long term closures to complete work faster. He mentioned how on the Pape Station survey (re: construction closure) there was an overwhelming desire to close it for the 12 days to get it over with. He stated that people are growing tired of the delays and prolonged closures are something they are considering.

    I used North Yonge as an example and he admitted it could be done better. I pointed out that the tunnel work has dragged on for years and a prolonged closure north of Eglinton may get it done faster. He agreed with that assessment.

    As an aside, there was also some discussion regarding the debacle over the SRT and he stated that the master agreement is what they are going by with no deviation.

    One thing people noted about the SRT closure in 2015 was the way they will accommodate buses. People who live next to the station stated that the station is packed currently at most times of the day and cannot handle the buses, they were concerned with how it would be handled. Chris stated they would do their best but they can only do so much.

    The meeting was rather informative and focused mainly on service quality. One thing people did mention was over-crowding at stations like Kennedy and STC. One interesting thing that was brought up was the long lines at the Town Centre and the fact that only 1 of 3 booths there is used. I mentioned to Chris about the need to open the auxiliary booths at STC and Yonge to assist passengers. It is interesting to note that there is a crash gate at STC that is always in use but the second booth at the mezzanine level is never used. There is also a booth at the GO transit level that is never used (and I doubt it ever was).

    Long story short, I see Andy Byford as a modern day David Gunn. I told him so myself. He is more focused on a state of good repair and modernization compared to his predecessors who maintained the status quo.

    All in all it was a good meeting and no doubt there will be some sort of transcript of it online at some point.

    Steve: Thanks for this report. I am glad to see that service quality was a major topic, and I can only hope that Scarborough politicians will remember this when it comes time to debate the TTC’s budget and any proposals to improve service standards. The question of bus congestion at STC and Kennedy has an interesting spin-off in that it shows how dependent these two locations are on the surface network to feed rapid transit and how the collection of riders from Scarborough onto higher capacity lines needs to push further out to the east and north.

    The issue with station staff and queues is a good example of the local level detail that the TTC needs to address in being more “customer” based. I can’t help wondering if somewhere there is a report saying “we shouldn’t spend more money on station collectors” that is responsible for this situation, or simply a lack of attention to an obvious problem. This is definitely something the new Group Station Managers should pick up on.


  9. “Steve: I had wanted to get into Planning, but Transportation didn’t want to let me go.”

    That’s because you were the only guy in the entire department who could punch the 35mm schedule film using only 2 holes of a 3-hole paper puncher … 😉

    I wanted to work for them as an operator, but then realized how mundane and tedious it would become.

    Andrew said …

    “I really don’t know how to make this fit in my mind with the fact that it was Rob Ford who pushed this guy into power.”

    Ford should get some credit for this. There’s no way any of these positive changes would be happening with Webster.

    Steve: I think Ford got more than he bargained for, and Byford will be much harder to tangle with over transit spending and nonsensical dreams of subways everywhere. A case of unintended consequences more than good planning.


  10. The TTC has a good chance to score with the streetcars coming on stream.They will be seen as an example of what can be achieved if financing is there. As a result it is crucial that the longed for increase in space that the new vehicles will provide not be negated by operating fewer of them as seems to be the plan. Not only would such a foolish practice largely wipe out any gains in terms of eliminating overcrowding but it would also increase waiting times. People will only come on side with more money if they experience real improvements. It is not too soon to start campaigning against any service cuts with the new streetcars.


  11. I have been lukewarm on Byford up to this point, because I have viewed many of his customer service improvements as soft “fluff”, while avoiding the really hard battles around core issues like capacity and reliability on surface transit, be it bus or streetcar. But his blunt comments about, say, short turning are very welcome, and a huge improvement over standard TTC practice/cultural habits. I appreciate a lot of his growing frankness about the politics of transit in Toronto and service quality issues. Perhaps we will see better management at terminals on surface routes? If he can accomplish that I say we name the new Leslie Barns after him before his term is over.

    Steve: The work I have been publishing here on service reliability is finally bearing fruit with a recognition that things are not as good as they could be, and that detailed examination of route behaviours can reveal patterns in what works or doesn’t. Byford is aware that many systems have better systems for monitoring and publicly reporting route and system performance, and more of this will be coming to Toronto. He clearly does not accept the standard line about the inevitability of poor service.


  12. Steve wrote:

    “Presto will bring smart card fare collection to the TTC (with credit card support to follow) beginning on the new streetcars and spreading to the rest of the system. The transition will be complex because of the need to support both the new and old fare media and protocols at the same time.”

    And what is the problem here? Not everyone is going to use transit everyday so PRESTO is not the solution. Allowing tokens and cash for more occasional users is part of collecting fares.

    “Service levels with new, larger vehicles will be a challenge because of the debate over how to use increased capacity. Should the TTC replace capacity or vehicles one for one, or something in between? This question has not yet been answered and depends in part on the budgetary stance taken by transit supporters in the 2014 City Budget debates.”

    Well, unless you replace vehicles on a 1 to 1 ratio or better, frequency is guaranteed to decrease, not stay the same or improve. Capacity is great, but not if people have to wait too long for it.

    Steve: The issue with the PRESTO cutover is not with the retention of cash fares (tokens will disappear), but with the co-existence period when the bus system is still using the “old” system including transfers. For example, a PRESTO user boards a streetcar but wants to transfer to a bus that does not have PRESTO support. They will need some sort of paper transfer as proof of payment. Moreover, on their return trip, they won’t be able to use their PRESTO card. That’s the complexity I am talking about.

    As for capacity and frequency, this is related to the question of improved service management. If the TTC can correct some of the problems with existing service practices, then the wider headways may not be quite as bad, but I am not counting on it. Meanwhile, the TTC still claims that putting more cars on the street to increase capacity is a waste because they will just get stuck in traffic. This is a typical TTC cop-out, an attitude that they don’t need to try harder because it’s somebody else’s problem. Byford has a big challenge combating that attitude.


  13. Hey Steve do you know what the June service changes will be? Just curious myself.

    Steve: I have the list but have not formatted it for publication yet. The usual long list summer cutbacks and seasonal route changes plus some construction odds and ends. Stay tuned.

    Oh yes — one major change — several contract services to York Region are being reduced or eliminated at YRT’s request.


  14. Steve wrote:

    For example, a PRESTO user boards a streetcar but wants to transfer to a bus that does not have PRESTO support. They will need some sort of paper transfer as proof of payment.

    YRT-contracted routes operated by the TTC are not equipped with Presto terminals while all other YRT routes are. YRT’s answer to this is use cash, tickets, or a pass if one needs to use these routes.

    Personally, I feel this is idiotic for anyone occasionally needing such service. Granted, I suspect that most YRT users make use of the same routes everyday, so this is not an issue for them, but I find it unacceptable (and I mentioned so when I had a chat with YRT’s General Manager, Richard Leary). I use Presto to pay my $3 fare, and have not had problems asking an operator for a paper transfer (printed by the Presto terminal) when changing to a TTC-contracted route (though, drivers have been surprised that the TTC buses in York Region are not Presto-equipped). Officially, paper transfers are only to be issued to cash and ticket passengers.

    It does not make sense to pay $3.75 cash, or be forced to spend $30 on ten tickets for the odd trip that needs it when I generally add $10 to $15 to my Presto card as I need it. This may not sound like a big deal, but when one’s household income has dropped by 44% in the past year, it is.

    Come to think of it, I should purchase ten tickets at a time and put up flyers selling them for $3.25 or $3.50 each! 😉

    I can see similar happening if the TTC does not have a smooth way of handling the transition.


  15. I just went to pick up my car from the mechanics. I bused down to Donlands Station and rode across to Main station. As I came up the stairs I watched two Carlton cars leave the station so close they looked like they were coupled. By the time I made it to the Main/Danforth interection and crossed a third streetcar was pulling out.

    Yes Mr. Byford you have some work ahead. Hopefully, he sees this riding the system, and hopefully he understands this needs to be ferociously rooted out, among other cultural behaviours, before we talk about increasing headways.


  16. “Steve: I read Brian’s comment in a different light. One of the big problems …”

    great answer sir. Slippery & smooth, like a true politician.
    Don’t offend or alienate anyone, and keep kissing the babies………

    Steve: I don’t kiss babies, and if you want to critique my position simply by accusing me of political spin, that in itself avoids the issue here. Fie on you.

    “Richard White: a prolonged closure north of Eglinton may get it done faster..”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t it take a complete closure for 2 or 3 months to get rid of all the old asbestos in these tunnels?

    Steve: It’s not just asbestos they are working with. The tunnel liners have a design defect that causes the tunnel to be out of round thanks to soil pressure from above. These are gradually being replaced before the tunnel becomes non-clearance for subway trains.


  17. Calvin Henry-Cotnam said:

    It does not make sense to pay $3.75 cash, or be forced to spend $30 on ten tickets for the odd trip that needs it when I generally add $10 to $15 to my Presto card as I need it.

    It does seem like an odd thing to not include a “press for transfer” option on at least some the Presto readers. I mean, when the system is upgraded to handle other tap payment options, people will probably appreciate having the option of a printed receipt.

    Steve: That works fine for someone beginning their trip at a Presto-equipped location, but not for someone with a Presto card getting on a surface vehicle that can’t read it.


  18. wow..sensitive !

    “Steve:if you want to critique my position simply by accusing me of political spin, that in itself avoids the issue here. Fie on you.”

    Ok I think your position is completely wrong! Operators are no better or no worse than any other workers/persons in this province and they do not deserve special treatment. Management’s role is, and they have the right to manage as they see fit. Whether or not my streetcar comes on time or in bunches has nothing to do with the operators feeling “picked on” or abused by management or not, and it is certainly not any of my concern or business. In my opinion if Byford is going to ‘fix’ the system, sorry but the operators are the last in line. I understand your trickle down theory and no slag to the drivers but there are far more important things to fix.

    Hence I felt Brian’s ‘poor us’ comment about everything management does wrong to the helpless drivers did not belong here.

    My comment earlier was somewhat in jest because you hate to shoot down any operator comments, reinforcement by you response “lose-lose situation that gives employees the sense they are never right, and shouldn’t bother”

    Well IMHO, any operator that doesn’t ‘bother’, for any reason is not an operator we want! They are no more special or less special than a millions of other employees in this province.

    Steve: There is a difference between expecting “special treatment” and simply getting consistent messages about how a job should be done. This is something Byford himself has spoken about. You say that management has the right to “manage as they see fit”, but if middle/lower management is doing so in a manner contrary to corporate objectives, then it is they who are not doing their jobs properly. It’s not all the fault of all operators or all managers, but a more subtle and tangled situation that Byford has to unravel.

    Sensitive? Hardly. When someone accuses me of political spin rather than engaging with the question, then I have every right to call them out.


  19. Look. I know its kind of the role you’ve given yourself and occupied for many years (Toronto’s self-appointed critic of all things transit). And yes, there needs to be a critical eye brought to bear on transit in this city, which we all know has many problems.

    However, in the interest of fairness, realism and objectivity, I find it amazingly annoying that I don’t think I have ever read you say anything positive about the TTC or GO Transit or Metrolinx. To you they are totally and completely incompetent. They have done nothing right.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, please, and show me where you think they are doing a good job. You’re clearly a smart guy and this blog has a lot of timely information and discussion, which is why I come here, but it is exasperating having to constantly read your “grumpy old man” tone that is never happy with anything transit-wise in this city.

    Steve: The aim is to talk about what transit could be, not to write love letters to the agencies involved. I’m not the only “grumpy old man” here if you read the comment threads, and the same can be said for other sites with a transit focus. Toronto has been very badly served by poor planning for decades and this infects many levels — professional and political — where we have been content to just make do, to put off necessary investment, to blame poor service on mythical forces beyond our control. These debates should happen, and with sufficient detail that those responsible can’t just slither away with their positions unchallenged.

    Yes, the TTC and GO do a lot of things well, but they could be so much better. Part of this is organizational timidity — just keeping the wheels on takes precedence over expansion and service improvements when you work for politicians who won’t give you an extra nickel in the name of “saving the taxpayers”. Part of it is political stupidity — the idea that we can get a major transit network without significant investment, and that we must always use the most expensive mode for anything we might build. Part of it is a Toronto and Ontario “not invented here” outlook that is a mix of organizational pride (or hubris) dating back to the 1960s and beyond, and a focus on transit as an industrial development (technology) and economic stimulus (construction) tool.

    I will happily publish comments from people praising TTC and GO management, but that’s not what comes in. Even Andy Byford is critical of his own organization, but is working to improve it. How aggressive will he be, and what will he be allowed to do (or even to talk about)? That remains to be seen, and debate on these issues may spur support for more than he would get otherwise.

    Never happy? Well it may sound like that if you are a politician or bureaucrat whose simple life doesn’t fit my world view. We went from an era of supposed economic prosperity and a strong pro-transit stance locally and provincially to one with tight money where meddling and incompetence at the political level are compounded by secrecy and denial at the professional level. As I said in another reply, this isn’t an issue for all members of all organizations involved, but there are lots who need to be called to account.

    Meanwhile, the staff of the TTC tries, in the main, to provide good service. City planners attempt, against heavy odds, to deal with the problems of population growth and concentration. Staff and advocates alike await a post-Ford era with responsible Council debates and policies, not the petulant rantings of a Mayor (and his sycophants) who ran against, rather than for, the City. Provincially, the hope is that Hudak’s Tories can be kept from power (they only represent about one third of provincial support, but count on NDP/Liberal vote splits) and that transit funding will finally rise to a level where construction and service can address the backlog of demand.

    This takes more than perfumed fan letters, it takes commitment and advocacy, not to mention impatience with decades of delay.


  20. Richard White wrote:

    Regarding strollers, it was mentioned that the TTC would be working on a new policy regarding the flip seats on buses and trains to indicate that they could be used for strollers.

    This highlights a MAJOR problem with the TTC: that they need to WORK ON A POLICY for something like this.

    The seats flip up. When someone gets on a bus with something on wheels that takes up more space than a standing person, the seat should be flipped up and the wheeled thing parked in that position. No policy needed.

    Back when my kids were young enough to be in strollers (which was shortly after flip seats started appearing), I always did this to get the stroller out of the way of people who need to get by. Then again, I’m that rare person who, when boarding a plane, steps out of the aisle and puts my carry-on on the seat to wait for following people to pass by before trying to place it in the overhead.

    These days, when I’m on a bus and I see someone waiting about to board the bus who will need that space, I’m flipping up the seat as they are boarding so it will be available to them with no delay. That’s MY policy, and there’s no need for an official policy.

    Steve: The TTC agreed to look into this when it was suggested by a deputation at a Commission meeting a few months back. The existing seats need to be lifted as a block, and this is not always easy to do. Changing to the subway-type flip-up seats would be an improvement, but I suspect that a new mounting arrangement will be required. They are also considering changing the seat colour to blue to indicate which seats are intended for those with mobility issues.


  21. Nick L wrote:

    It does seem like an odd thing to not include a “press for transfer” option on at least some the Presto readers.

    The terminals on buses can and do print transfers, but the button is operated by the driver. This is done for cash and ticket passengers and eliminates the need to tear off a transfer. It also means that a transfer is printed with a two-hour expiry down to the minute (i.e.: board at 14:07 and the expiry will be 16:07). The old tear-off transfers used by YRT had (have, they still are in limited use) 15-minute expiry intervals, and many operators would set it longer to avoid having to adjust it every 15 minutes. I once boarded a bus at 16:30 and received a transfer with a 21:00 expiry!

    The terminals at VIVAstations have a “print” button on them, but they have NEVER been in operation. That means that someone starting their journey on a VIVA route cannot get a paper transfer if they transfer from that route to a TTC-operated route. Of course, even if on a regular YRT route and needing to transfer to a TTC-operated route, one also won’t get a transfer if the operator is following official policy. I have been lucky in that regards.

    Steve pointed out:

    That works fine for someone beginning their trip at a Presto-equipped location, but not for someone with a Presto card getting on a surface vehicle that can’t read it.

    This is true. I have been “lucky” in this respect as well. Either my round trip was within the two hours of the outbound transfer’s expiry time, or I have had the odd YRT ticket because of a recent overcharge issue with Presto (YRT mails out a ticket to reimburse the charge).

    These are not situations that the average rider would encounter, but the average rider tends to make a similar trip on a daily basis, so purchasing tickets for one direction of the trip is not a hardship, especially with the TTC where one can purchase as little as three at a time and not be forced to purchase ten. Assuming that when tokens are phased out, there will be some form of ticket replacement.

    Steve: However, your scheme does not address passholders who depend on bulk purchase of large numbers of fares. Until all vehicles accept Presto and support the equivalent of a Metropass, riders will not be able to switch over. This will be a major drag to getting buy in by heavy users from passes to Presto.


  22. So will Toronto transit be improved in 2018 so that more people won’t need to have cars? Boston, Chicago, New York-no need to have a car! Just take public transit. Can’t say the same for Toronto.

    Steve: For the US cities you name, a lot depends on where you live. I have lived in downtown Toronto for over 30 years without a car, but that’s possible through my choice of lifestyle, the judicious use of cabs and, when absolutely necessary, cadging a ride with a friend while helping to pay for the trip. I could not do this living further away from downtown.


Comments are closed.