Why is the TTC misleading the public on streetcar reliability?

With the Toronto Star reporting today that the TTC keeps two sets of statistics about the reliability of its new Bombardier-made streetcars, ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos asks, “Why is the TTC misleading the public?”

The Toronto Star has learned that the TTC has a public and private set of statistics. The private statistics indicate the streetcar vehicles experience 72 per cent more instances of delays that publicly reported.

“ATU Local 113 members have known the truth about the unreliability of the new streetcars for years,” said Carlos Santos. “It’s time for the TTC to stop protecting private interests and stand up for workers and the public who deserve the real facts about streetcar reliability.”

Read the full article here: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2019/09/30/ttc-keeps-two-sets-of-streetcar-reliability-numbers-one-isnt-published-and-shows-the-vehicles-performing-much-worse.html

WATCH: LEGO Video Explains Risks of Premier Ford’s Subway Upload Scheme

ATU Local 113’s members do more than proudly move Toronto, they also do an excellent job given the tough circumstances caused by an underfunded and crowded system.

ATU Local 113 Sisters and Brothers have strong expertise maintaining and operating the TTC for over 100 years, but Premier Doug Ford’s so-called subway upload puts it all at risk as the PC Government takes the first step towards privatization by taking control of Toronto’s Subway and breaking it from the integrated system.

Watch the LEGO video created by ATU Local 113 Brother Aaron Chapman, then share it to help the Local reach riders in new ways to protect Toronto’s public transit system.

There is an easy way for Premier Doug Ford to improve and expand the TTC – it’s to properly fund it, not tear it apart.

Join the fight to protect Toronto’s public transit system – and vote to make Brother Aaron Chapman’s Toronto Rocket Subway Train an official LEGO kit.

READ: Wheel-Trans users fear loss of service under TTC’s plans to have thousands reassessed

Instead of forcing thousands to reregister for Wheel-Trans in a bid to cut its service, Premier Doug Ford should properly fund the TTC. The irony is this comes as the PC Government cancelled the scheduled hike in the portion of the gas tax that municipalities receive to fund transit that would’ve improved station accessibility…

Read more in the Toronto Star: Wheel-Trans users fear loss of service under TTC’s plans to have thousands reassessed (September 23, Ben Spurr)

READ President Carlos Santos on Toronto.com: Ford’s ‘Ontario Line’ Will Just Lead to More Delays

As Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government promote their new transit “vision”, President Carlos Santos outlined on Toronto.com why ripping up plans mid-way will just lead to more delays for badly need transit infrastructure.

Read the piece – then share it with your friends, families and on social media.

Premier Ford’s proposed Ontario Line will just lead to more delays

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government are out in full force promoting their new transit “vision” for Toronto.

Like right here on Toronto.com, with Associate Transportation Minister Kinga Surma’s opinion article “Proposed Ontario Line makes most sense, serves more people.” But when it comes to the Ford government and transit, you can’t believe everything you read.

Researchers call it the “illusory truth effect”: repeating the same thing over and over and over again to make people believe it. It’s a trick some politicians use when they try to sell you something.

Fortunately, the more you say something does not make it more true. Transit planning should stick to expert facts, not play politics to meet far-fetched promises.

Before leading the union of Toronto’s 12,000 public transit workers, I operated TTC streetcars for 12 years. When you’re on the front lines of public transit, you understand firsthand the frustration of riders.

Associate Minister Surma is right about one thing: Torontonians have come to expect crowded subways, buses and streetcars — not to mention the never-ending delays with building transit. However, what she does not say is Premier Ford’s plan to scrap the Downtown Relief Line for the Ontario Line will just lead to more delays. It’s a tired routine provincial PC governments have perfected; cancelling plans midway to just bring us back to square one, leaving riders behind.

Here’s how.

Associate Minister Surma says the province’s plan will build on ready-to-go Downtown Relief Line planning, which has some design work and the environmental review complete. But in reality, less than half of the Ontario Line would follow the same route.

She also says the Ontario Line will be operational by 2027, two years faster than the Downtown Relief Line. But in reality, the head of Metrolinx, the province’s own transit agency, says that they don’t know if they can meet the arbitrary new timelines until companies start bidding for the work. Their president and CEO, Phil Verster, admitted to the Toronto Star, “If it can’t be done in 2027 (his agency) will declare that immediately.”

That’s from what we know, but in Premier Ford’s Ontario we don’t get all the details. We still don’t know if the province’s unilateral redrawing of Toronto’s transit map has funding partners at other levels of government.

The federal government, ready to help fund new transit, say the PC government started with just two pages explaining this project — and that it wasn’t enough for them to finance it with confidence. While the province has since submitted more details, important questions remain unanswered and the federal government has yet to commit to any funding for this “mystery line.” The City of Toronto has yet to commit to any funding. Toronto city councillors will decide in October whether to move forward at all with the Ontario Line.

If the Ford government had stayed the course with existing plans, we would have shovels in the ground for the Downtown Relief Line next year.

Meanwhile, as the PC government creates further delays with much-needed transit expansion, they have made TTC service and overcrowding worse for riders.

The PC government broke a campaign promise to keep the scheduled hike in the portion of the gas tax that municipalities receive to fund transit, which means about $1 billion less for Toronto than was already budgeted for the maintenance of the TTC’s buses, subways and streetcars, among other important initiatives like subway station accessibility.

It’s time for Premier Ford to properly fund the TTC. Transit is key to the growth of the city, but also its affordability though connecting our communities. We need to improve and expand the public system so everyone, at all income levels, can build a good-quality life here.

A properly funded public transit system will mean more buses on the road, as well as moving forward with critical projects like the Eglinton East LRT that would finally bring public transit to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, as well as the Waterfront LRT to serve an ever-expanding community. It will also mean better service and less crowding, which is only getting worse as our city continues to grow.

When it comes to Ford and his PC government, don’t believe everything you read. You need to look through the empty promises to find the facts.

Federal Election 2019: Where the Parties Stand on Public Transit

ATU Local 113 is encouraging Sisters and Brothers to Vote Public Transit in the upcoming federal election on Monday, October 21, 2019 by learning more about where the major federal parties stand – and supporting candidates that seek to improve and expand Toronto’s public transit system.

ATU Local 113 recently attended Transport Futures: Federal Election Transportation Debate where the New Democratic, Liberal and Green parties of Canada outlined their visions on a wide range of topics related to transportation in Toronto, as well as across the province and Canada. While many details are still to be released, likely through the campaign, this debate helped Torontonians better understand where the parties stand on key issues of importance to public transit in the city.

Ben Spurr, the Toronto Star’s transportation reporter, moderated the two-hour debate at The University of Toronto that covered: roads, rail, transit, air, marine, taxes, funding, financing, leadership and governance related to their management. Participants included:

  • Adam Vaughan,  Liberal Party of Canada candidate for Spadina – Fort York
  • Diana Yoon, New Democratic Party of Canada candidate for Spadina – Fort York
  • Tim Grant, Green Party of Canada candidate for University-Rosedale

The Conservative Party and The People’s Party chose not to participate.

The federal candidates present were generally supportive of ATU Local 113’s positions on public transit.

  • Public-Private Partnerships (P3s): All parties admitted there are issues with these projects as they are inherently risky – and often prioritize profit over people.
  • “Ontario Line”: All parties agreed that Toronto should lead its transit planning, and that Premier Doug Ford’s new transit map lacks detail and ultimately sets the city back. Instead, Toronto should move forward with the Downtown Relief Line.
  • Permanent and Stable Transit Funding: All parties agreed this funding mechanism is key to transit improvements and expansion. The Greens, however, argued it should not be tied to the gas tax, as gasoline is a ‘diminishing resource’ that will ultimately be phased out. The Liberals spoke to their record for lengthening commitments to 10 years. The New Democrats spoke to the importance of this funding so municipalities rely less on helping private companies generate profit.

Other ideas discussed included electrifying vehicles, fare-free public transit and ending ‘transit deserts’ and ‘missing links’ in the current system.

ATU Local 113 is encouraged to see these candidates participate in this event and thoughtfully discuss key issues of importance for public transit. It’s unfortunate the Conservative Party of Canada failed to show up for this important discussion. The Local is thankful to Transport Futures for organizing the event.

Read more about the debate in the Toronto Star and watch more on City News.

Federal Election 2019: Get Engaged at Upcoming Transportation Debate

ATU Local 113 encourages Sister and Brothers to attend the 11th edition of Transport Futures: Federal Election Transportation Debate on September 17. This will likely be the only transit-dedicated debate during the campaign, and therefore a good opportunity to ask candidates directly to invest in existing and new public transit in Toronto.

Liberal, New Democrat, Green and People’s Party candidates will debate all aspects of transportation, moderated by the Toronto Star’s transportation reporter Ben Spurr. The Conservative Party was invited, but unfortunately will not be participating. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Full details below:

When: Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Where: Innis Town Hall
2 Sussex Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
Cost: $30
Details: Regular rates until September 15. Partisan literature or signage is not allowed. Find more details here.

Band-Together: Ending Workplace Violence through Public Conversation

ATU Sisters and Brothers launched Band-Together, a week to recognize the increasing health and safety issues transit workers face on the job. From September 16 to September 22, please wear a band-aid on your right cheek while on the job to start the public conversation so we can end workplace violence.

Band-Together was inspired by President Dwayne Russell and our Sisters and Brothers at ATU 1197 in Jacksonville, Florida. Here in Toronto, five transit workers are assaulted every day. Whether it be physically, verbally, emotionally or sexually, it’s unacceptable and persists regardless of company policy. It’s time for a culture shift.

Don’t forget to share a photo with the hashtag #BANDTOGETHER to show support for the survivors of these traumatic attacks, and ensure they never happen again.

Stronger Together: ATU Local 113 Welcomes the International Back to Toronto

ATU Local 113 welcomed ATU International back to Toronto on Wednesday, September 11 to discuss their continued work together to protect Toronto’s public transit system. President Carlos Santos led a discussion with International President John Costa, International Vice President Manny Sforza and ATU Canada President John DiNino focused on the imminent threat of Premier Doug Ford’s so-called subway upload, and ongoing efforts to Keep Transit Public.

The visit included a tour through the TTC’s Wilson Yard Complex, highlighting the expert work of ATU Local 113 Sisters and Brothers. Many members had the chance to speak directly about concerns they experience on the shop floor.

You can find photos of the visit below.

TTC launches suicide support program for the public – yet fails to focus on workers

On World Suicide Prevention Day, the TTC and Distress Centres of Greater Toronto announced a new outreach and support program to assist riders who witness suicides and attempts on subway routes. While ATU Local 113 agrees with the purpose and goals of this initiative, the TTC has yet again neglected an important part of the issue: the worker.

There is no disputing that suicides are an absolute tragedy that can have serious effects on witnesses.

That trauma can be multiplied as the operator of a subway train entering a station and having to experience such a tragedy. It can also be traumatic for workers who typically perform track repair duties.

As the stigma regarding mental health issues decreases, more TTC workers are coming forward acknowledging that they need help. Workers are being diagnosed with varying degrees of PTSD and need access to resources they have never needed to seek before.

On May 3, 2019, ATU Local 113 reached out to the TTC to form a partnership to expand Peer Support, getting the Joint Health and Safety Committees involved in worker outreach, dealing with PTSD in the workplace and the special circumstances affecting those employees dealing with the aftermath of a subway suicide.

ATU Local 113 wanted to collaborate with the TTC and form a Peer Group Committee. We wanted the TTC to step up and show their employees the same care and concern that they are showing the public today. As of this date, these requests have gone unanswered. No reply to the letter, no telephone call, no email.

Today’s announcement is good news for the public, but does not address the profound effects suicides have on workers.

We call on the TTC to build on today’s initiative to also protect workers.

In the News: TTC Pleads Guilty to Ontario Ministry of Labour Occupational Health and Safety Act Violation

Toronto’s 12,000 public transit workers continue to grieve for Brother Tom Dedes, who tragically died in 2017 after suffering fatal injuries on the job. ATU Local 113 offers its deepest condolences and support to his family, friends and co-workers as the TTC finally pleaded guilty to one count of failing to ‘take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker at a workplace’ for their role in this tragedy.

You can find the news coverage of the TTC’s guilty plea in the Toronto Star and CP24 below. You can read ATU Local 113’s full statement on the matter here.