Make the trains run on time.
As a job description it doesn’t get much simpler than that. Nor does it appear more deceptively easy.
If that were all it took to be a mass transit hero then Benito Mussolini would have had a much less sticky fate than befell him after his ouster in mid 1943.
After all, his major claim to fame in Italy in the late 1920s and 30s was to take a decrepit rail transit system and make it work at least for Air Jordan 14s a while.
While nobody for a minute would wish a comparison between Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Jordan 2 Retro chief executive officer Andy Byford and Italy’s fascist
leader, Byford does understand the simple imperative of having trains turning up when expected.
Anything less is a failure, he says.
“I think we owe it to the people who use our system to deliver what we promise,” Byford said. “That is the start of everything. Of course there is a huge amount of other work to be done, but getting the trains where they are supposed to be on time is our first major concern.
“This is what our riders judge us by.”
Taking that observation to its logical conclusion, if every TTC rider is a critic in waiting, then there is no shortage of free advice ready for Byford.
Look at the facts.
The TTC is the third largest public transportation operation in North America, carrying over half a billion passengers annually with close to 1.6 million passengers on a typical weekday.
It does this through one of the highest per capita passenger rates in North America serving some 4.5 million people in the Greater Toronto Area.
It’s not just the riders who are ready to offer criticism.
The TTC is a major employer in its own right with over 12,000 workers.
Byford says Air Jordan 8s he spends as much time listening to his workers and giving them the respect and confidence they deserve as he does simply riding the rails.
“Staff are our human capital even more important than the physical assets we possess,” Byford said. “From the person who cleans the station to those who collect fares to those who meet riders on a face to face basis, everyone is playing a critical role.
“I talk to them because I want to know what they think. You cannot run an operation like this from an office; you have to get out and meet everyone at their workplace as often as possible.”
Nobody could accuse Byford of doing anything less. He Nike KD 7 has been a familiar face around the TTC since day one and is always at hand to face the media when there is a less than desirable outcome that needs confronting.
It is a personal approach borne of broad experience.
Byford, 47, originally joined the TTC as chief operating officer in November 2011 and was responsible for the delivery of streetcar, subway and Wheel Trans services.
His promotion to the biggest transportation job in Canada came soon after the demise of his predecessor Gary Webster. The latter was sacked in March after opposing Mayor Rob Ford’s public transit expansion plans.
At the time of his appointment, Byford made it clear the job rather than City Hall politics would be his focus. He said he wanted to be judged on results.
He was acutely aware of the charnel house atmosphere (my words not his) that often prevails at City Hall and the adversarial nature of negotiations between elected representatives and permanent staff.
Now six months into the job he is as good as his word. Byford eschews political discussion to focus on root and branch renewal for the TTC with a spotlight on service delivery.
“It wasn’t that long go that the TTC was seen as a model for the rest of North America to follow,” Byford said. “People would travel here to see how I worked.
“It was studied and people modelled their own services on it from all around the world. Things changed for a variety of reasons and now we are Air Jordan 9s working to resuscitate the patient.
“Sure, there are new subway cars on the Yonge line, but there are little things like re lining subway ceilings and painting and cleaning washrooms.
We are even using a darker grout on wall tiles in the major public areas to help make things brighter and cleaner.