Who rules Toronto’s transit? Girls!

Over the past few years subtle changes in the management structure at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) have amounted to more women and visible minorities placed in key postions within the organization.

Despite the fact that there are not a lot of women wanting to change oil, or do heavy mechanical work, the TTC has, over the past few years, become a place where diversity being brought into the upper management is bringing a cultural change to the organization that is long overdue.

The 10 person TTC executive now  includes three women — the Chief of Staff, the Chief People Officer and the Chief Capital Officer.  This is a dramatic change from the executive just five years ago, which had no women on the executive team.

In the layer below the executive, there is an increasing number of women and ethnic minorities including Head of Stations, ‎Head of Wheel Trans, Head of Recruitment, Director of Employee Relations, and Head of Bus Transportation.

Jody Humble is the Director of Change Management at TTC and her role is to bring about the sort of cultural that CEO, Andy Byford, envisions.  When asked about the changes at TTC, Byford stated, “It is not unusual now, for men to be in the minority at high level, decision-making meetings. At a recent executive sub committee, ‎men, including myself, were outnumbered 4-10. This reflects the increasingly important role that women are taking in the running of the TTC.”

Out of six group station managers 50% are women.

In December, a number of media reports spoke about gender equality within the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Most writers focused on the fact that women only make up 15 per cent of the transit agency’s workforce. This number came from the TTC’s 2014 Annual Report on Diversity and Human Rights Achievements.

The city/provincial benchmark for female employment within the TTC is set at a lofty 48.7 per cent, a figure the media used to show the abysmal state of gender equality within the transit agency. They argued that women use transit in different ways than men. They take shorter trips, sometimes need to make multiple stops, and are often in caregiver roles which require greater accessibility. If more women were employed by the TTC, they said, more changes would be made to better transit.

However, what these articles failed to touch on is the number of women in positions of power—in senior management.

Before the holidays, we put a call out to both Metrolinx and the TTC to find out about the number of women within the agency that held decision-making roles. A spokesperson for the TTC reported that women make up 26.5 per cent of senior management, while Metrolinx said half of their senior management team positions are held by women.

This is a much greater accomplishment considering the city benchmark for senior management positions is 27.2 per cent.

The reality is that it’s difficult to attract women to the manual and physical jobs required of TTC employees. And even if the agency was able to get more female employees, the jobs they would employ would not be in roles of power. They are not positions that would allow women to make actual change within the agency.

Should the TTC be trying to encourage more women to be a part of their ranks? Absolutely! But, until that happens, Women’s Post will rest easy knowing that women are running the place.

Andy Byford: Serving The Rocket Through Transformative Change

Whether you’ve seen him on the subway with other fellow passengers, or heard about his five-year corporate plan to modernize the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) operations, it’s evident that Chief Executive Officer, Andy Byford, is bringing significant change to the TTC. However, there is much more about Mr. Byford than meets the eye. In a mere three years, he has managed to overhaul his senior leadership team and has  brought some crucial change to the TTC.Mr. Byford has replaced his Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with Gary Shortt, brought in Mike Palmer as the Deputy CEO for Subway Operations, Chris Upfold as the Deputy CEO, Rick Leary as Chief Service Delivery Officer and Susan Reed Tanaka as the acting Chief of Engineering, Construction and Expansion.

Mr. Byford has not neglected the importance of bringing women into leadership roles. While there are three out women of the 11 member, including Vice-Chair, Maureen Adamson, Councillor Shelly Carroll, and Anju Virmani. The TTC executive team has Chief of Staff, Joan Taylor, Chief People Officer, ‎Gemma Piemontese, and Chief Capital Officer,  Susan Reed Tanaka.



Service has also improved significantly since Andy Byford became CEO in 2011. Performance measures show that punctuality and device availability are at an impressive 90+%.  Steps were taken to refurbish rundown subway washrooms, step up subway-car cleaning and improve announcements about service disruptions.

Andy Byford’s other efforts to complete expansion projects, improve customer service, and modernize the outdated system cannot be overlooked. In 2013, Byford introduced six, new Group Station Managers (GSMs) as part of his continuing commitment to modernize and transform the TTC. And just last year,  debit and credit machines were introduced to 69 stations, allowing passengers to buy tickets and passes the more convenient way.

Byford’s dedication and expertise has shaped the TTC into a much more efficient transit system. He is slowly changing the culture at the TTC, building confidence in his team, and tackling the thousands of changes needed to create better process at every level.

Mr. Byford is slowly turning the biggest transit system  in Canada around. The cultural transformation he promised is  happening, service has improved significantly, and despite the lack of transit infrastructure  and funding (4 million from this years budget) Byford has managed to keep Toronto moving with equipment that is long overdue for replacement.

His mission is clear; to have a transit system that makes Toronto proud and despite the lack of investment, the barrage of political attacks that come with his position, and the terrible mess he inherited, Byford just may pull this off.  We can only hope the politicians will leave him alone long enough to bring about the transformation the TTC so desperately needs.

Humility over hubris will fix the TTC

There is a systemic issue that has plagued the TTC for decades.  Historically the TTC has lacked strong leadership, with CEOs being fired every few years,  few of them have had the time or inclination to tackle the managers or hold them accountable for their actions.

Last week a few columnists and politicians hinted that CEO of the TTC, Andy Byford, was to blame for the Spadina extension overruns.   Like the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland who shouts “off with his head” they wanted a simple solution without understanding the complexity of the problem.  The TTC’s main mandate is to deliver good service efficiently and Mr. Byford has done exceptionally well on that front, despite inheriting an organization with a long history of poor accountability and mismanagement.

Consider the recent auditor’s report that found the TTC had not been monitoring the use and maintenance of its non-revenue fleet going as far back as 2005. Take a closer look at the report and what becomes obvious is the systemic issues that CEO Andy Byford has inherited.   The auditor’s report demonstrated that accountability has not been part of the TTC’s culture for decades. To expect our new CEO to do a complete overhaul of the system in under 5 years is ludicrous.

It’s easy to criticize when it comes to failures, but much harder to understand what caused the failures.  The real challenge facing the TTC is to change the culture of entitlement and unaccountability that fills the management ranks. But Byford has taken action. He’s reviewed the TTC infrastructure department, fired those responsible for the Spadina extension overruns, and admitted that he needs help and that the TTC infrastructure department can’t handle the project. Not only did this take balls, but it took humility – exactly the trait needed to bring real change to the TTC.

Mr. Byford’s firing of the Spadina extension project managers not only tells Toronto he’s taking action but it has sent a huge message to all TTC employees –  that no matter how high ranking someone is, they will be accountable for their actions.  This is a message that many TTC employees, frustrated with the lack of accountability and the attitude of entitlement within TTC management, needed to hear. In Byford, TTC now has a leader with humility, who is determined to give the public the best service possible while at the same time weed out the hubris that will always cause an organization to fail.

Where does the TTC infrastructure department go from here?

The answer is obvious to those who work in the industry — the contractors and engineers — who have worked with the TTC in the past and now refuse to even bid on most TTC projects, to those who have spent the past decade quietly complaining to anyone who would listen, about the ineptitude of the TTC infrastructure department.  The solution the contractors, tradespeople and engineering firms suggest is to turn all the large transit projects that TTC has in their plans over to Metrolinx.

Metrolinx is the provincial transit body responsible for building transit infrastructure – most recently, the Union-Pearson Express (delivered on time and on budget).  Under the leadership of CEO, Bruce McCuaig, Metrolinx has steered its large projects through Infrastructure Ontario which has developed an efficient process (with a 97% success rate) to manage big infrastructure projects.  Add to this the fact that McCuaig has attracted some of the best in the field, and the humility that McCuaig brings to his role as CEO of Metrolinx and it is easy to see why so many in the industry see them as the great solution to Toronto’s infrastructure problems.

A partnership between Metrolinx and the TTC is the best solution for Toronto. It would allow the TTC to focus on delivering excellent service efficiently, while at the same time deliver the expertise that Metrolinx has to all our future transit expansion plans.

Transit integration moves forward for GTHA

Today GO Transit and the TTC announced a partnership on a pilot project to give metropass holders the opportunity to purchase a new monthly GO fare sticker for $60 that can be used  for unlimited travel between Exhibition, Union and Danforth GO Stations. It will begin on Feb 1, 2015. The new stickers will go on sale on Jan. 26, at Exhibition, Union and Danforth GO Stations.

CEO of Metrolinx, Bruce McCuaig said, “This project is more than about saving time. It’s about working together to provide the best transit service”

The goal is to attract people to use different transit options, and to inform them of all the transit choices that are available to them. Transit officials say this will save commuters between 10 to 15 minutes per trip during rush hour.

Ontario Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca announced that the project would last one year, and offer Metrolinx a lot of information to analyse in order to help them with long-term planning.

Here is how to get the sticker

1. Bring your TTC Metropass (for the current or upcoming month) to the ticket counter at Exhibition, Union or Danforth GO Station.

2. A GO station Attendant will attach the GO fare sticker to your valid TTC Metropass.

Safe travels.

LOOK: Toronto can learn a few things from the stunning design of Stockholm’s subway

Here is Toronto we are used to simple, utilitarian subway stations. Even our friends over in Montreal take a much more artistic approach to how their stations appear. Unfortunately the type of rock in which we are digging here in Toronto means that our stations are quite often as small as possible, but newer station designs like Museum show that a small space can still have a big visual impact.

All of that is nothing compared to Stockholm’s Metro system. Take a look at the images collected below by VisualNews that show the fantastic take the Swedes have in their subway stations.

1. Fantastic escalators through red stone.


2. Looks like the escalator through Mordor.


3. With a cool woodland scene on the walls.


4. Even more epic escalators.


5. Patterns, exposed stone, and sculpture all in one.


6. Half buried pillars.


7. This flower mosaic looks like a cross between Super Mario and Easter eggs.


8. These awesome elevators look like Saul Bass designed a villain’s lair from a Bond movie.


9. They’ve got ghosts in their tiles.


10. Geometric shapes in an ice cavern design.


11. Stunning view from the platform.


12. View from inside of a train.


13. Even the trains themselves look fantastic.


14. Even more epic cavernous escalators.


15. The simplest doors are designed to catch your eye.


16. It is a wonder anyone makes it to work on time when these stations beg to be marveled at.


17. Giant leaves overhead.


18. Checkers and houndstooth overhead.


19. a Cross between Alice in Wonderland and the Chamber of Secrets.


20. These stations are so striking it wouldn’t surprise me if these statues came alive at night.


21. Complete with ancient ruins to admire on your way to the train.


Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

This infographic sums up everything wrong with the Scarborough subway debate

Subways for Scarborough! LRTs for the city! Accessible transit now!

Why does it seem like, despite all the time that has passed since the death of Transit City we are having the same debates now that we did when David Miller was in office? Why does it seem that, with every passing day and every subway bandwagon jumped on by every politician at every level of government, the simple facts of the matter are being swept under the rug in favour of vote pandering?

Toronto Tweeter Ev Delen (@EvDelen) shows us the cold hard facts in this infographic.

Get ready for the most simple representation of everything wrong with the Scarborough subway debate — and everything wrong with the politicians pushing for subways.





It all seems pretty simple now, doesn’t it?



You can follow Ev Delen on Twitter at @EvDelen.

You can follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.


LRT vs. SUBWAY: Here is a map of both proposed extensions

This week saw a flurry of activity around the LRT versus subway debate. What will replace the Scarborough RT?

What you may not know is that the extensions will not follow the same route. Look below to see the routes of both.

Both begin at Kennedy station, currently the eastern terminus of the Bloor/Danforth subway line. The proposed subway extension takes the route further east before meeting up with Danforth and jutting up to Sheppard.

The extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT continues on from the Kennedy station where it is currently slated to end. The extension thakes the LRT along a very similar route at the current Scarborough RT but going further west and eventually curving up to meet Sheppard.

Take a look below, which route best serves the community?

View Poposed subway extension vrs LRT in a larger map

Founder of Kik Messenger takes stand against LRTs because they don’t look futuristic enough

While Toronto’s subways vs. LRT debates splash against the front pages of newspapers our neighbours in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge to the west have had their own ongoing debates about the future of transit in the city.

The major bus route throughout KW is King Street, and the plan was to run an LRT along it and to reorganize buses in the city to feed into the LRT for better, more reliable, and faster crosstown travel.

The plan, which also includes a multi-modal downtown transit hub, hasn’t seen any major battles erupt like the mention of LRT will garner here in Toronto.

That is, until Ted Livingston decided he was not only an expert at providing a platform for tweenagers to sext each other and perverts, pedophiles to collect child pornography (no, really) but also an expert at transit in Waterloo Region.

His beef? The trains for the LRT aren’t futuristic enough.

His Change.org tirade, which you can read for yourself here, begins earnestly enough as he lets us know that he “only started reading about the specifics of the LRT this past Sunday.” This should be a red flag to anyone reading, as the “specifics” of the LRT have been publicly debated for the past fours years or so, and there also isn’t a lot more ever going on in the news in Waterloo to keep you distracted.

He tells us that he was excited, because trains are cool, that is until he saw a picture of one of the trains. “Not a futuristic train whizzing by overhead, but just a glorified bus running up and down King in a dedicated lane.”

Yes, he’s upset because the train doesn’t look cool enough.

He goes on to explain: “We say that traveling by bus is brutal and that these trains will be so much more comfortable to take, but after two wheels are photoshopped in we will all see that it is simply a shinier bus.”

Oh, that’s right, he photoshopped some wheels onto a concept design of one of the LRT trains going by Grand River Hospital to, um, prove to us that these trains are a lot like buses, maybe?

Waterloo Region and Grand Rvier Transit could also do a lot worse than double length articulated buses like the one Mr. Livingston has photoshopped into existence here.

“Instead of a train we all know and love, we’ll have glorified buses that are just as miserable to take. Because instead of getting cars off the streets and opening our roads, we’ll have closed key roadways and made traffic a mess. And because instead of looking for a unique solution that would actually make commuting in Waterloo fun, we’ll have gone over budget and burdened any future options for decades to come.”

The whole thing reeks of someone who, fresh out of school with a cash cow of an app, has to pay taxes for the first time and thinks that the dedicated lane will make it more difficult to travel around town in his new car. In Toronto he might have a few more fans, but in Waterloo where most people who take public transit are captive passengers, meaning they actually have no choice but to take the bus to work or school because they can’t afford a car, I think he’s going to be a bit hard pressed to find a group of car snobs willing to turn down any step in the right direction.

Ted Livingston, Jim Balsillie you ain’t. Stick to your app instead of opining on Waterloo’s transit.



Politics in Toronto: Not broken, maybe bent, but certainly cracked

Quite a few people in the Twitterverse and beyond were shocked today by the transit video we released.

It was created by our publisher (and tireless transit advocate) Sarah Thomson who took to Facebook last night to announce that Women’s Post had “the video” and it would be appearing on Women’s Post’s website today at noon.

Supporters of transit initiatives in Toronto and those who see Sarah tick by in their Facebook and Twitter feeds regularly were familiar with the video she was talking about – a video where she sings a cover of Pink’s Just Give Me a Reason with lyrics re-written to showcase Toronto’s issues with securing reliable transit for the city and asking Torontonians to do what they can to support the Big Move.

A little bit silly? Of course. A conversation we need to be having? Definitely.

The video opens with a smoke filled room and a character holding a pipe before a segue into shots of Toronto’s congested streets and regular people holding cards asking for help in relieving transit stresses and commuter problems in our fair city. The message is clear: we need to move past the haze of drug scandals that have Toronto politics in a vice grip and get back to reality. Our city and the people in it are stuck immobile by distraction after distraction and are suffering the consequences of inaction on a daily basis.

What happened next couldn’t have driven the point home any better. Overnight Toronto’s hashtags and feeds jumped to the collective conclusion that the video going up today was of Rob Ford smoking crack.

Their shock came when the video turned out to be a song about transit.

My shock came in the immediate aftermath of the video going live. The message left in our comments, on Twitter, and on YouTube was that this was a waste of time, we need to get back to “real” issues about Rob Ford’s reckless personal life.

My shock was that a scandal plagued mayor has so thoroughly damaged the civic and political landscape of Toronto to the point where the people of Toronto can’t even clearly see that the most pressing issue to us right now, to our children, and to our future as a viable world-class city isn’t what people at City Hall have in their pipes, it is what their circus of distraction is preventing us from becoming.

This week boring machines began working on the largest transit project Toronto has seen in half a century. Unfortunately, the number of people tuned into stories about the Eglinton LRT pales in comparison to the number of people tuning in daily to see an elected official deny, dodge, and destroy politics at City Hall.

My suggestion to my fellow Torontonians is to take a cue from Sarah’s video. Wave the smoke out of your face and move on. Focus on what is important, do everything you can to make City Hall, Queen’s Park, and Parliament Hill work for you by speaking out about transit, urban development, bike lanes, the Gardiner, and everything else that is currently being ignored by the Mayor’s office. While we can waste time arguing over what kind of dust coats the Mayor’s desk it is quite clear that it isn’t being used at all for the municipal issues that need to be addressed.

Taking a stand on the problems faced by Torontonians instead of the demons faced by Toronto’s mayor is the only way we can step forward into the future.

The politics of Toronto aren’t broken, perhaps bent, but certainly cracked. What we need to do now is fill that crack with our voices. Our next big move as a city shouldn’t be into the depths of crack houses, it should be into the communities that need accessible transit, stitching together the tapestry of our city with busses, light rail, subways, proper highways, and bike lanes.

Together we can make it work.


You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.