TTC Bus Operator’s Bedazzled Nails Go Viral, Brightening Commutes and Challenging Stereotypes

Toronto’s frigid winter temperatures often result in frustrating transit delays. But when Brigit O’Neil boarded ATU Local 113 brother Michael Maguire’s vehicle a couple of weeks ago after a long wait, her mood was instantly improved as soon as she spotted his nails. O’Neil shared her experience in a viral Twitter thread leading to thousands of new Instagram followers for Maguire as he continues to brighten commutes and challenge stereotypes.

Maguire joined Citytv’s Breakfast Television this week to speak about his fabulous nails. In response to stereotypes that men do not get their nails done he responded, “I let the nails talk.” He then added with a radiant smile and confident demeanor, “I do it because it’s all about me!”

Maguire’s nail obsession started with an ice storm five years ago. He slipped and shattered his left leg, forcing him to be in a cast for months. When his cast was removed, the uncleanly state of his feet prompted the nurse to suggest nail care. Maguire took the suggestion seriously, and now looks to Pinterest and Instagram for nail art inspirations.

The rest is history. Now with an earned nickname “Nails,” Maguire‘s choice of self-expression has become a point of personal joy – both for himself, and as a TTC operator serving his community better.

Keep it up, Michael!

ATU Local 113 and TTCriders agree: the Terms of Reference agreement for the TTC break up is a step backwards for our public transit system

The agreement between the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario is a step in the wrong direction. In fact, the agreement is a step backwards for Torontonians who deserve an integrated service they can rely on.

Torontonians have been crystal clear: we do not consent to Premier Ford stealing our subway. Toronto City Council has already voted twice to continue to own, operate and maintain transit service. Having efficient and reliable public transit can only come by properly funding the system, not breaking it apart and privatizing it.

A publicly owned TTC and its 11,500 public transit workers are best positioned to deliver transit in an efficient and effective manner. We serve the communities we live in, and we’ve been doing it “the better way” since the early days of the TTC.

Sadly, it’s the riders who will pay the consequences of the so-called TTC subway upload. It will lead to the privatization of our cherished public transit, similar to what is happening with Metrolinx’s GO system.

Privatization will mean higher fares and reduced service, while private companies stand to line their pockets from contracts, such as scandal-plagued SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier (currently unable to deliver streetcars on time). It’s time to deliver for Toronto’s public transit riders – and it’s not through Premier Ford’s disastrous plan.

Transit Advocacy Group TTCriders on what’s at Risk for Our Public Transit System

Following the agreement becoming publicly available, Toronto’s transit advocacy group TTCriders shared that the Terms of Reference released by the City and Province on subway upload negotiations is missing two crucial aspects: the City’s capacity to oppose it and the principle of affordability.

“Premier Ford hasn’t convinced anyone that stealing the subway will deliver better transit,” said Shelagh Pizey-Allen, their Executive Director. “This city’s transit riders deserve much better.”

“The best way to make transit affordable and fix overcrowding and delays is to fund operations,” said Pizey-Allen. “If the province steals the subway, riders will lose out with higher fares, a crumbling subway system, and less say. The only people who stand to benefit from the plan are developers, who will get handed public land on top of stations.”

The provincial transit agency, Metrolinx, is exploring charging higher fares for riding the subway. “People who can’t keep up with the increasing fares will get stuck on the bus, while others get premium service on the subway,” said Pizey-Allen. “They’ve also considered a fare-by-distance model, which would leave residents in Scarborough and Etobicoke paying more.”

“There’s nothing in the Terms of Reference about making sure transit is accessible for everyone in this city.”

TTCriders is also raising the alarm that the Terms of Reference scraps the City’s ability to refuse the upload plan. “We, residents of and riders in Toronto, have the right to say ‘No’,” said Pizey-Allen.

Torontonians concerned about their public transit system are encouraged to sign the petition to Keep Transit Public. ATU Local 113 members are urged to email to get involved.

READ: TTC spoof ad skewering Doug Ford appears on Toronto subway

A spoof advertisement appeared on a subway car calling out Premier Ford on his disastrous subway upload plan. To improve the system the Premier should properly fund it, not break it apart. There’s too much at stake. Read more about in blogTO .

TTC spoof ad skewering Doug Ford appears on Toronto subway

An unusual ad has been catching the attention of TTC passengers this Friday morning with its off-brand font, low-res stylings and unconventional installation.

Someone appears to have taped two long, white pieces of paper atop an illuminated ad panel inside a Toronto subway car sometime early Friday.

On the paper is printed a rather lengthy message, for an ad, and one of the transit commission’s own campaign titles “The TTC Way.” But this is no ad for the TTC itself (if the presence of Ontario Premier Doug Ford didn’t tip you off).

“We need better TTC service now! But Premier Doug Ford’s plan to steal our subway and hand it over to big business and developers won’t deliver better transit,” it reads.

“Even the provincial transit agency admits their plan will delay new stations and lines. We’ll end up paying more to ride the subway. That’s not the TTC way.”

The poster encourages readers to text “ourTTC” to a phone number that does not belong to Ford in order to connect with the premier. “Don’t steal our subway!” reads a single line under a photo of his face.

While no website or organization is attached to the ad itself, it bears the hallmark colours, sentiment and style of local public transit advocacy group TTC Riders.

Sure enough, the grassroots organization seems to be responsible for the play, tweeting out a link to its website with the exact same images sent to us this morning.

Concerned Toronto residents can learn more about the group’s campaign against Ontario’s proposed TTC subway system upload here.

Stop TTC Fair Pass Delays

Join together with your Sisters and Brothers to ensure the same TTC discounts afforded to Torontonians receiving child care supports are extended to those receiving housing supports. This comes as Toronto city staff released their recommended 2019 budget, delaying the next phase of the TTC Fair Pass. Now is the time to get involved as the budget won’t be finalized until Council votes on March 7, 2019. It’s outrageous for the City to delay the next phase of the Fair Pass, especially when the TTC is set to raise fares 10-cents and monthly passes by nearly $5 a month.

Get Involved

1. Send a message to your Councillor and Mayor John Tory.

2. Make a presentation to the City Budget Committee. Sign up here and TTCriders will share tips and info with you in advance.

More Information on the Fair Pass

The low income transit Fair Pass was approved by City Council in 2016 as part of the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Disappointingly, the strategy has been implemented piecemeal, and with increases already being added to the first phase of the Fair Pass for Torontonians receiving Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works rolled out this April (5-cents on $2 fares, and a $3.90 increase on $115.50 passes). It’s clear we need deeper discounts rolled out faster.

READ: Why the Ford government’s plan to take over Toronto’s subway will be ‘complex’ and ‘messy’

As the province devises a plan in the dark to dismantle the TTC—one of North America’s largest transit systems—we need to raise greater awareness among the public on why we are fully against Premier Doug Ford’s menacing moves. Read the full CBC News story below to find out what President Carlos Santos and other insiders had to say to the public on subway uploading.

Why the Ford government’s plan to take over Toronto’s subway will be ‘complex’ and ‘messy’

The wheels are in motion for Ontario to take over Toronto’s subway system.

But that doesn’t mean it will be a smooth ride.

Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government is pledging to “upload” the Toronto Transit Commission’s underground network, a concept city officials and the transit commission’s top brass say still isn’t clear.

Even so, a special adviser has been appointed, behind-the-scenes talks are happening and ongoing consultations are expected as the province develops a plan to dismantle one of North America’s largest transit systems.

According to insiders, it’s going to be complex, challenging and downright messy. Here’s why:

It’s an integrated system

For one thing, the subway isn’t a standalone entity. It’s one piece of a big machine with links to buses and streetcars.

“It’s such an integrated system, to take away one aspect creates a whole other level of bureaucracy,” said Carlos Santos, president of ATU Local 113, the union representing thousands of TTC operators and maintenance personnel.

Right now, there’s fluidity between surface routes — including Wheel-Trans — and the city’s subways, meaning both riders and workers can transfer easily through many direct, weather-protected stations.

Cherise Burda, executive director of the City Building Institute at Toronto’s Ryerson University says by, “detaching and disconnecting parts of the system from each other, there’s going to be lots of operational challenges.”

“It would, in a way, be taking out the artery of a system and being left with the capillaries, and not the big part of that system — the life blood that feeds it,” Burda said.

It’s facing a funding crunch

It’s no secret the TTC is cash-strapped.

The latest capital investment plan shows nearly $34 billion is needed just to operate services as-is, and around $24 billion of that — or roughly two-thirds — is unfunded.

“Every single thing listed in the TTC budget ties back to complexity on this,” said Cameron MacLeod, executive director for the non-partisan transit advocacy group CodeRedTO.

“Ask any couple who’s been through a divorce, whether it’s been free and whether it’s been painless.”

According to the Ford government, the TTC would continue to reap revenue from fares and run the day-to-day operations for subways, buses, streetcars and LRT lines — while the province would take over the planning, building and maintaining of the subways.

The cost to the province, the PCs said during last year’s provincial election, would include $160 million per year for existing assets.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, a spokesperson for transit advocacy group TTCRiders, says that figure doesn’t come close to what the TTC needs.

According to the TTC’s capital investment plan, roughly $16 billion of the $22 billion required to maintain just subways and stations over the next 15 years isn’t funded. If the province spent $160 million a year during that time, the total would only be $2.4 billion.

“That leaves a hole of one billion dollars a year,” Pizey-Allen said.

It’s a complicated ownership structure

Taking over the subway network is one thing, figuring out how to navigate who owns what above ground is another.

“If you just go up and down the Yonge Street subway, there are all sorts of companies that are located right over the subway,” said John Sewell, an activist and former mayor of Toronto who now heads up a citizen group called Defend Toronto.

Above Queen and Dundas stations, for instance, there’s the Eaton Centre. Above St. Clair West station, a giant Loblaws.

The ownership arrangements are “all over the place,” according to TTC spokesperson Stuart Green, who says an inventory is in the works.

“Many stations are actually city property and we operate under agreement,” he said.

“Some others, we are in easements on private property, and some we do own.”

And there’s another complication: Mayor John Tory’s recent efforts to build new affordable housing developments on city-owned land, including subway parking lots at stations like Islington and Wilson.

“Trying to determine where one part of that system disconnects from another — like a bus bay that meets a subway station — what part becomes the city’s, and what part becomes the province’s?” asked Burda.

It’s in need of ongoing maintenance

From track work to signal upgrades, there’s always maintenance needed on the subway lines — an aspect the province plans to handle.

Transit historian Edward Levy, a senior consultant with BA Consulting Group, worries that’s a “retrograde step” filled with challenges for the Ford government.

New York City, he notes, has a vast subway network under the control of the state, and it’s falling apart. (One Business Insider report from 2018 highlighted commuters’ social media posts of the water pouring into subway stations, showing “just how dire” conditions have become.)

One reason for its decline? “People in Buffalo and Rochester are not the least bit interested in spending money on a system 400 miles away in New York City,” Levy said.

“It’s the same thing that will happen here, or very likely could.”

So far, the province’s focus has been on transit expansion, not maintenance. But according to MacLeod, potential development is secondary to the crucial issue from the get-go: The system is withering, he says, and dealing with that will be “messy.”

“The province has never run local transit,” he says. “There is a huge gap in terms of experience, and the learning curve is pretty steep.”

TTC to Hire More Fare Inspectors, Yet Reprimands Employee for Actually Collecting Fares

The TTC’s latest strategy to fight fare evasion is to hire 71 special constables and fare enforcement officers, with an additional three supervisors. Ironically, this comes at the same time ATU Local 113 takes measures to exonerate a subway station Customer Service Agent from the TTC’s harsh and unfair punishment for collecting fares in a difficult circumstance. After releasing our stance on the matter, Antonella Artuso of the Toronto Sun interviewed President Carlos Santos. Read the full story below.


The TTC commissioners’ decision to hire more fare evasion inspectors comes as riders have dwindling options to pay their fare, setting up increased potential for conflict between staff and the public, the union representing public transit workers says.

Many people, including tourists, don’t have a Presto card or find the machine out of order, ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos said.

“The public should always have an ability to pay a different method,” Santos said. “We have endless problems with Presto.”

Last summer, a Customer Service Agent was disciplined by the TTC for taking cash fares at the Presto-only Pioneer Village Station, he said.

A large crowd that had arrived all at once from a nearby tennis tournament did not have Presto cards and wanted to pay cash, he said.

The pressured Agent decided to collect the money and then immediately turned it over to a supervisor, he said.

“She was suspended for two days pay and she had her probationary period extended by three months because of this,” Santos said.

Additional fare inspectors would not have helped the situation, he said.

“These people had cash,” Santos said. “So they’re put in a situation which could cause confrontations.”

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said he could not discuss any personnel matter but noted there are protocols for handling cash and large crowds at Presto-only stations.

“We have no plans to go cash free at this time but customers showing up to a subway station with cash have options including using a lane with a secure cash collection box,” Green said. “Starting in June, the option to purchase single and return ride PRESTO tickets will be introduced in stations.”

The TTC is not responsible for the maintenance of Presto machines, he said.

Women March On: Toronto—Let’s Build a Safer, More Inclusive City, ATU Local 113!

This Saturday, January 19, ATU Local 113 will join together with its ATU Canada Sisters and Brothers at the Women March On: Toronto. Together, we’ll make it clear to policymakers that rollbacks and attacks on our communities will not be accepted. Full stop.

The organizers of the march explain, “(We march) because we will not go back… this movement, began in solidarity with our sisters in the United States as they demonstrated their resistance to their country’s new leadership. We march to bring awareness to the changes needed to build a safer, more inclusive Toronto.”

With a lineup of speakers who will address the many egregious cutbacks by the provincial government, we have the opportunity to be heard — loud and clear.

Find the details below. See you there!

Women March On: Toronto

When: ATU Local 113 and ATU Canada will meet at 11:45 a.m. on January 19, 2019. The march begins at the stage in Nathan Phillips square at 12:00 PM, with speakers and a short rally, before we walk.

Where: “TORONTO” Sign at Nathan Phillips Square.

Details: RSVP by contacting Madelin, an organizer at ATU Canada, by calling (289) 200-3261 or emailing More details on the event can be found on the Facebook event page. Please bring any ATU swag to wear — we’ll provide signs.

Fights and Laughs for a Safer Society: ATU Local 113 at a Charity Anti-Violence Boxing Event

To close 2018, ATU Local 113 took part in supporting a boxing event created to help make our society a safer one.

Hosted by One by One, a non-profit organization founded by a group of “formers” (former gang, extremist and organized crime members), the event pitted Gregg Zaun, former Toronto Blue Jay and World Series Champion against Tristan Black, former CFL Player and Grey Cup Champion. All in good spirit and fun, the funds drawn from the event is essential to further develop new programs, continue youth outreach, and extend research around anti-bullying and recidivism.

ATU Local 113 leaves a mark among the crowd at the boxing event.

Those behind One by One think of themselves as ambassadors of change who are “unprompted by the threat of punishment”. From these ambassadors, youth and adults who seek help on anything related to anti-bullying, gang prevention, exit strategies and long-term management find comfort through individualized mentorship.

(From left to right) Marcell Wilson, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of One by One; Carlos Santos, President of ATU Local 113; Bola Olubowale, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of One by One; Savino Griesi of One by One.

(From left to right) Mohammad Rama, Rocco Signorile; Carlos Santos, President of ATU Local 113 and Shawn Grant.

ATU Local 113 is extremely proud of showing support for local organizations that share its core values. Go toOne by One’s homepage to learn more about this unique and heartening non-profit organization!

A night of Transit Trivia and a Welcome Party for the new TTC Board with TTCriders

Transit Trivia Fundraiser

Celebrate TTCriders’ accomplishments in the last year with a delicious dinner and trivia tournament. Hosted by Rachel Lissner, founder of Young Urbanist League, this Fundraiser is to support TTCriders’ work for affordable, world-class transit. For just $40 per ticket (and $180 for a team of up to 5 people), enjoy a delicious dinner and an unforgettable night of trivia. Drinks are available for separate purchase.

There are great prizes you can win, including a lunch with MPP Jessica Bell, Official Opposition Transit Critic, who will also be attending the event, a $750 VIA Rail travel voucher, and gift certificates to local restaurants and shops across the city.

When: Friday, December 7th, 6:30-8:30pm, doors at 6pm

Where: College Street United Church, 452 College Street

(For Wheel Trans, use 510 Bathurst so the driver can pull into lot behind building)

Get tickets and find more information. 

Also, find the Fundraiser on Facebook and on Twitter.

TTC Board Welcome Party

The new TTC Board will meet on December 18th for the first time, so TTCriders is throwing them a Welcome Party! The TTC wants to increase fares next year and the board will soon be voting on the budget, service levels, and fares. Help us introduce TTCriders and our demands for fair TTC funding, lower fares, and more frequent and reliable service. We’ll deliver a giant welcome card with a message you can sign in advance.

When: Thursday, December 18th, 12:15pm

Where: 100 Queen St West (City Hall)

RSVP here and find more details on Facebook.