THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION

CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995

INQUEST DAY FIFTEEN - Wednesday 31st January 1996

THE TTC IS A MONEY SUCKING BLACK HOLE

 

         Another "star" witness was on the stand all day today - Mr. Kirk Cedarburg (correct phonetically but it may be spelt wrongly). Mr. Cedarburg is a facilitator with the consulting company JLA. JLA, and Mr. Cedarburg, were hired by Al Leach to institute the Productivity Improvement Unit.

 

         There were some discrepancies about his educational background. He confirmed that he had a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Queens University. He has been associated with JLA for 10 years and has specialized in production and maintenance trouble solving.

 

         The history of the Productivity Improvement Unit is still being written. Mr. Cedarburg described his involvement in setting up the original 10 week analysis phase. JLA was selected from 15 consultants to do this work.

 

         At the time of the accident on August 11th, JLA was not employed by the TTC but upon hearing what had happened, Mr. Cedarburg took it upon himself to approach the counsel for the deceased to let them know that he thought that there was a contributory cause to the accident as a result of the poor maintenance policies of the TTC. It is Mr. Cedarburg's view that there is no properly constructed maintenance, either preventative, scheduled or any other type of maintenance. He confessed to know little or nothing of the SMS (Subway Maintenance System). Mind you, given the history of that system, I'm surprised anyone on the seventh floor will admit to it's existence. He told the lawyers he contacted that he had documents that proved we were in a mess. Big Surprise!!! Mr. Cedarburg was worried that we would cover up the accident. By this he meant a cover up of the failings in the day to day operation of the commission that lead to the accident.

 

         Mr. Cedarburg was complimentary about the maintenance staff getting the service out on the roads (and subways) despite the difficulty of not having structured maintenance.

 

         The litany of sins committed by the commission in the name of maintenance kept Mr. Cedarburg going for the rest of the day. Your scribe took many notes but the gist of his testimony was that there were problems that had been uncovered by the six PIU groups and as the whole process was not being proceeded with, these problems were still extant despite some short term fixes.

 

         He described the overhead electrical system (for the streetcars and trolleys (what are they??!!)) as being barely safe. 75% needs maintenance or replacement. Cannibalization is a problem for various reasons such as not being sure of the quality of the part that is being cannibalized.

 

         We are Data Rich and Information Poor having over 1000 mini systems and four mainframes which do not communicate well amongst themselves. In describing turfwar problems, I can attest to these in the computer area for sure. Over the last ten years, turfwars have succeeded in hobbling most of the improvements that have been proposed. Each TTC employee is probably aware of turfwars but we must never speak of them of course!!!

 

         Despite Mr. Punter's efforts not to name any TTC personnel in any of this, the names Leach, Simpson, Thacker and Ralston were used. Leach as purchaser, Simpson and Ralston as being appreciative of JLA's efforts and Thacker as a thorn in the side of the whole process.

 

         In closing his examination by Mr. Punter, Mr. Cedarburg described the TTC as "a money sucking black hole!!". His motive in coming forward was to see the right thing done. He does not expect to be remunerated for any of this and he wants Toronto to have a safe system.

 

         Mr. Cedarburg was then examined by the remaining counsel, but by this time he had reduced his answers to simple one word acknowledgements or denials to counsels questions. He was no longer forthcoming.

 

         Mr. Leck introduced two reports not previously seen by the other counsel or the court. One was the Subway Operations Long Range Plan 1994-1999 and an APTA (American Passenger Transport Association) audit on the TTC. During the afternoon break, Mr. Punter had read enough of the APTA report to call it "a bomb". It contains references to a lack of Signal maintenance scheduling and various other things that concerned Mr. Punter sufficiently that he was moved to suggest that the TTC was less than forthright in producing documents as this APTA report had been sought for some time. It appears to have mysteriously blossomed forth like the stuff Alfonse D'Amato wants from Hillary Clinton which suddenly appears on a chair !!!!!!!! By the time Mr. Punter had made his point, Dr. Huxter admitted that Mr. Punter had "got his attention" and he weighed in with a request to speak to all counsel immediately after the day's proceedings. The normally very quiet Doctor who has let things run along more or less as counsel want was clearly upset by this turn of events. It is fair to say that Dr. Huxter is not a Happy Camper!!!

 

COMMENTS

 

1)      Prior to my retirement, I had some small involvement with one or two of the PIU teams. It was my impression that the TTC employees involved in the process were keen to make it work and were indeed working very hard with lots of overtime and dedication to have a successful conclusion. I know there was a feeling of betrayal on Management's part when the whole thing got the boot. Primarily because the teams had done a lot of work in determining the state of the Commission and were ready to go forth and "fix things". For a long time I have criticized the extremely short sighted policy adopted by management of the one year budget. I have never seen a single five year plan except on the day it was rolled out and just before it was buried under all the other reports. Most of our difficulties can be laid at the door of under funded and misfunded projects. My personal favourite misfunded project is the $4 million being spent on a Materials System we don't need and can't use. Of course we all know about the $40 million plus plus plus spent on CIS and thrown away like an old lollipop stick when it doesn't suit the latest Chief General Manager. What Mr. Cedarburg did today was to open up more of the TTC corpus. It will be interesting to see if any further surgeons have the courage to investigate further!!!

 

2)      Maybe Mr. Punter's admonition to Mr. Cedarburg that he not name names will be explained later.

 

3)      Mr. Punter has a bevy of hangers-on who I have christened the "Punter Youth" after a similarly named group in Safety and Security!! One of this group indicated to me that there would be a public phase in the inquest during which any member of the public would be allowed to address the jury. Gird your loins Oh you Proud and True Employees and Sally Forth to Tilt at Yon Windmills !!!!!!

 

4)      Today the jury was handed yet more documentation to read. The jury has so far been snowed under with so much paper that Al Chocorlan, the inventor of two sided copying, must be having a real conniption fit !!!! How these "men off the street" are expected to go through what has been presented to them is a mystery to me. Either they aren't getting any sleep at night or there is going to be one hell of a long deliberation whilst they digest it all.

 

5)      In questioning Mr. Cedarburg, Mr. Leck suggested that it takes time to get everything up and running. I didn't hear Mr. Cedarburg utter one improvement, change, suggestion, modification, structure, plan or idea that John Harben hadn't suggested twenty years ago. The reason that nothing happens is because we will not solve the budgeting of projects in the way Subway Construction has. Thus there is no commitment on the part of management to see anything long range get started. The Financial people have to start helping the other departments to prepare their budgets with ideas on how to finance the operations in interesting, unusual and innovative ways so that the departments can succeed in their ideas. The current system where everyone throws brickbats at each other during the budgeting process so that no one wins has to stop. When MPBS was first introduced, the one thing that made MPBS work, the cross referencing of budgets department to department, was not and never has been introduced. It is this sort of in-fighting or turf wars that Mr. Cedarburg is hinting at. We will never improve till it stops.

 

6)      And finally, for those interested in courtroom decorum, Mark R. has competition from Mr. Cedarburg who chawed gum the whole day through !!!!!!

 

          Day 16 commences at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow.

 

                 Dave Irwin      -       31 January 1996

 

 



 

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