2017-07-06 Thu

Mis-Management at the Toronto Transit Commission

I titled this “Mis-Management” because I was raised on the dictum “Management Measures”. If you are not measuring, then you are not managing. So if you are paid to be a manager and you are incompetent at measuring, then you are, by definition, an incompetent manager, and should be demoted until you can add and subtract numbers.

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Spewing out figures like “97 per cent” and “99 per cent” makes you think that we are right up there, correct?

Turn those figures around and look at them from the other side:-

“Our goal is to have only one in a hundred inoperable”, and “Right now three in a hundred are inoperable”.

By my arithmetic learned when I was, I think, six years old, that means that the current system is three times as bad as the goal.

I’m not saying that the goal is good. I think the goal is bad. Having one in a hundred sub-systems inoperable translates into an awful lot of frustrated passengers on the Toronto Transit Commission.

Having one in a hundred sub-systems inoperable translates into fifty surface vehicles frustrating hundreds of passengers, and the bus-driver, too, who must respond to each awkward tap of the card. And you can bet that that will delay each affected surface vehicle. Think “Bunching”.

Having one in a hundred sub-systems inoperable translates into every one of the 69 subway stations having at least one turn-style that isn’t working.

I am a little shaky on the next point, but it seems to me that this is a 44+50=94 million dollar project.

Quick now: When was the last time you spent $94,000,000 and were happy with $940,000 of it being ineffective? I know that that’s less than the average price of a house in Toronto, but still and all ...

The UP Express Derailment

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Leaving aside the millions of dollars spent on consultancy fees that produced the data suggesting that folks would pay $27.90 to hop on a train that operates both on the periphery of Toronto (Yonge Street and lake Ontario) and and on the periphery of Toronto (the International airport), and then discovering that the folks wouldn’t, so “Sorry, we were wrong on that major point. Reduce the fare to less than half it’s original figure”, look at the ridership figures.

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We are told that 750,000 people rode the line in the first ten months. Now you might argue that the first ten months is too short a period for a decent result, but I would argue that since the first ten months included the Pan-Am Games, the system got a fair boots from foolish travelers with too much money on their hands.






passengers per month


days per month


passengers per day


hours operation per day


minutes between each train


trains per day to the airport


trains per day from the airport


trains runs per day


passengers per train trip

You will have to trust me on this one. I did not cherry-pick the figures or the results. I read and photographed the article in the paper and did NOT calculate anything, not even in my head (which is sometimes described as ‘the back of an envelope”!) until I sat down to write.

My arithmetic tells me that averaged across entire days for the 10-month period, there were seventeen passengers on the trains that left downtown Toronto and seventeen on trains that came back.

Note that 17 is an arithmetic average of 750,000 passengers over 300 days. As bland a calculation as ever there was.

But I report with much joy that this figure is close to my eye-balled counts of 20 or so passengers the three or four times I sat on the platform and counted people stepping off the trains arriving from the airport, and walked the length of the train to tally the passengers waiting to depart for the airport one minute before the train’s departure.

My counts took place mid-morning or mid-afternoon, not in the ghostly hours of the first or last couple of trains that ran.

There must have been an awful lot of train trips when both (or all three) carriages were empty.