Transit union says TTC needs to take responsibility for service cuts

A Toronto Transit Commission sign is shown at a downtown Toronto subway stop Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy


The union representing Toronto transit workers says there is a “spare pool” of operators ready to work in response to the TTC’s claims that service cuts were due to high rates of absenteeism. 

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113, which represents 12,000 public transit workers, is challenging the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) remarks one day after its board meeting on Monday.

At the meeting, the TTC said due to a low rate of absenteeism (when employees don’t come to work), the agency is able to reinvest its resources into more service.

As a result, the TTC announced it’s increasing service again on late night trains on subway Lines 1 and 2.

“In the first service restoration I’ve directed is the return to the six-minute or better service late night on Line 1 and Line 2,” TTC CEO Rick Leary said at the meeting.

In response, the union is responding to his statement surrounding the “absenteeism” allegations. 

“Leary’s statements are misleading and irresponsible. He appears to be deflecting blame for his service cuts to operators on the front line,” President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 Marvin Alfred said in a statement Tuesday. 

The transit union says the change in services was never about absenteeism, rather the TTC choosing to slash services.

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“The TTC has imposed service cuts. These were choices Rick Leary himself made and rubber stamped by the Commissioners and the former Mayor of Toronto,” Alfred said.

“In fact, the TTC has always had available vehicles and operators who could be providing additional service. The TTC shifted a large number of operators from scheduled service to sitting in a “spare” pool waiting to be assigned work day-to-day,” he added.

During the meeting, the TTC said it had reserved enough operators to cover scheduled services in the event of a resurgence in COVID-19.

“What we said is that because fewer people are needing to book off for COVID isolation, we are able to deploy those resources into service,” TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said in a statement to Now Toronto on Wednesday. 

However, the union says the transit agency should always schedule full service instead of “cannibalizing the operators’ schedule and assigning work on an ad-hoc basis.”

“This ad-hoc approach to service is worse for operators and means worse service for riders,” Alfred explained. 

“For months, the TTC has artificially inflated its pool of ‘spare’ operators beyond what it needs to cover absences. These workers could and should have been used to provide regular scheduled services,” he added. 

The union mentions TTC workers expect scheduled work to be made available in advance and cutting service and filling the gaps with a pool of operators with no specific work assignment is poor service, as well as contrary to the Collective Agreement between ATU Local 113 and the TTC. 

The union demands the TTC be transparent with the public and provide them with the full-service schedule they need and operators deserve. 



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