TTC: Andy Byford (CEO of the TTC) Says Transit Visionaries are Needed at City Hall

Update:

TTC CEO Andy Byford (pictured above) stated “Whoever the mayor is and whoever the city councillors are, I want them to be pro-transit,” he told reporters following a lunch speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. The business event Thursday was attended by TTC chair Karen Stintz, who has declared her intention to run against Mayor Rob Ford.
TTC CEO Andy Byford (pictured above) stated “Whoever the mayor is and whoever the city councillors are, I want them to be pro-transit,” he told reporters following a lunch speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Byford says Toronto is facing a $2.3 billion funding shortfall to keep the transit system in good repair.

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TTC CEO Andy Byford doesn’t have a vote. But he says this year’s civic and provincial elections are a golden opportunity to elect “visionaries in key offices” who understand the value of transit, not just its cost.

Byford, a Brit who isn’t eligible to vote in Canada, said he’s not endorsing any particular candidate.

“Whoever the mayor is and whoever the city councillors are, I want them to be pro-transit,” he told reporters following a lunch speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. The business event Thursday was attended by TTC chair Karen Stintz, who has declared her intention to run against Mayor Rob Ford.

Museum Subway Station on the Yonge-University Line.  Funding of the TTC's entire infrastructure will continue to be an important issue that all politicians will have to continue to grapple with in the future.
Museum Subway Station on the Yonge-University Line. Funding of the TTC’s entire infrastructure will continue to be an important issue that all politicians will have to continue to grapple with in the future.

Painting a bleak picture of the system’s precarious finances, Byford insisted he won’t back away from the fight to wring more TTC funding from governments.

Four years ago, the TTC delivered 462 million rides on a subsidy of $430 million. This year it is projected to carry 80 million more rides, on a city subsidy of just $427 million.

The business event Thursday was attended by TTC chair Karen Stintz (pictured above), who has declared her intention to run against Mayor Rob Ford.
The business event Thursday was attended by TTC chair Karen Stintz (pictured above), who has declared her intention to run against Mayor Rob Ford.

That’s an increase from the past two years, but city council, later this month, will debate boosting the subsidy a little more to close the remaining $6 million gap in the TTC’s operating budget.

The system’s $9-billion, 10-year capital spending picture looks dire right now, with a $2.3-billion shortfall in needed purchases of new equipment, repairs and maintenance, Byford said.

“The last few days have starkly demonstrated the fragility of our existing network as we have struggled to keep 30-year-old streetcars going in Arctic temperatures. Furthermore, our signaling, stretches of track, communications equipment and the SRT are, quite simply, worn out,” he said.

Over the past 20 years, the TTC’s workforce has increased only 18 per cent, while service has been expanded 27 per cent and ridership has risen by 32 per cent.

Byford acknowledged that it’s difficult to justify fare hikes to TTC riders, now adjusting to a New Year’s increase, when the service is increasingly crowded. But he promised that, given more money, he can transform the TTC into a modern, customer-oriented business.

The City of Toronto annual budget always lists the Toronto Police Services & Board and the TTC (including wheels trans) as the top most expensive services that Torontonians pay for, in that order.
The City of Toronto annual budget always lists the Toronto Police Services & Board and the TTC (including Wheel Trans.) as the top most expensive services that Torontonians pay for, in that order.

However, he is under no illusions. “We are still nowhere near good enough. Consistency of our service is till patchy, delays are far too frequent and our capability both in terms of equipment and people performance has a long way to go,” he said.

This year is significant in that the TTC is rolling out a series of mega-projects: new streetcars, Presto electronic payments and computerized signaling on the Yonge line.

It will also launch its second customer service charter this month, with 30 new performance promises.

 

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