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TTC Chief “Won’t Back” Lazy Employees

"I cannot and will not defend such incidents," writes TTC CEO Andy Byford.

Andy Byford, the TTC chief installed after the ouster of Chief General Manager Gary Webster in February, is now beginning to wade into some of the more mundane aspects of his role as one of the commission’s public faces. For example: containing damage from the continual stream of news reports about cellphone pictures of TTC employees engaging in inattentive or risky behaviour on the job. (In fact, we posted a video of a subway driver doing something irresponsible just a few days ago.)

This morning, the TTC released a memo from Byford, addressed to all commission staff. It’s a strongly worded rebuke to all employees who tarnish the dignity of the eggplant-coloured jacket. We have the full text after the jump.

Or you could just read the memo Gary Webster released in 2010, after a photograph of a TTC collector asleep at his post became citywide news. The sentiment is identical, and we’d even go so far as to say that the prose is better. But then again, Webster had spent his entire career at the TTC and probably had lots of invective saved up. Byford—a Brit who came to the TTC from RailCorp, in Sydney, Australia—is new to Toronto. He’ll learn.

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the TTC’s image and by extension, our reputation as TTC employees, is once again the subject of intense scrutiny and severe criticism by the media and the traveling public.

To be frank, we can’t complain. In recent days, photos and videos have emerged of staff asleep on the job, texting or appearing to read a newspaper while operating a vehicle, and parking illegally to get a snack. As your CEO, I cannot and will not defend such incidents. Such behaviours are not only unacceptable, they lead to even more scrutiny and potential for assault.

In my time here, I have gone on record as saying how much I respect what front line staff do and how 99 per cent of you do a great job. That remains the case and I will continue to publicly back you.

But a small minority of staff continue to wreck all of our reputations. To them I say: I will not back you, in fact I will expect you to face the consequences of your actions, especially if you put customers’ safety at risk.

Between us, we can transform our company’s reputation and stop this ongoing criticism of what we do. But we can only do this if everyone does their job professionally.

So I have given my managers clear direction: back staff to the hilt that do the right thing or who make an honest mistake. But to those few that choose to ignore safety rules or who recklessly make things worse for their colleagues by their actions, expect to be held to account.

I am convinced we can change this situation and transform everyone’s perceptions of the TTC. Please heed this advice.

Andy Byford
Chief Executive Officer


  • TonyB

    The first thing they can do is remove those streetcar operators that think they own the road and do not need to abide by the highway traffic act, especially turning at an intersection with pedestrians crossing.

    • Marcg

      They’ll remove those operators the day maniac drivers stop speeding down Queen to get past streetcars.

  • jen

    If things didn’t change in 2010, then they’re not going to change now.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Nice PR move but Byford’s thoughts are really irrelevant on this subject.

  • Funkosopher

    If you don’t think a man can learn what stretches of track require his attention and which he can afford to look away from while driving a subway, then you’re an idiot.

    I’m not sure who you think you’re serving by pissing into this tempest in a teapot. If you want to rail against human nature, then do that, but don’t make good people’s lives harder by posting crap that just makes people hate other people even more. This city’s way too full of that already.

    • Anonymous

      There’s a difference between glancing away momentarily, and reading a paper or thumbing a text message. If you don’t understand that, you have no business driving a vehicle with several dozen or even hundreds of men, women and children sitting and standing on it without seat belts or airbags.

      This is not about making people hating each other, it’s about well-paid employees being able to sustain minimal professional standards, and clocking off when they know they can’t do that.

      If it’s so damn boring, find another line of work, because you are clearly unsuited to drive public transit (or for that matter, any sort of vehicle).

      For its part the TTC needs to figure out how to address human limitations in terms of shift length, breaks, having operators rotate among routes (which they may for all I know), etc.