THE MOON AND THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION
CASA LOMA/RUSSELL HILL SUBWAY ACCIDENT AUGUST 11th 1995
INQUEST DAY TWENTYTWO - Friday 16th February 1996
MISTER! CAN YOU SPARE A FEW MILLION DOLLARS?
After a good nights sleep, Mr. Punter seemed to have calmed down a little. He had Mr. Gunn explain more of his management style and ideas. In desiring a militaristic style of command in an organization like the TTC, he said that it provided a chain of command where things were identified. To manage, a manager requires rank and order. Mr. Punter compared Mr. Gunn to a general to which Mr. Gunn replied that due to his naval experience, he would consider himself to be an admiral clearing the decks. There was much naval innuendo for the rest of the day!!
Al Leach hired JLA to solve the financial difficulties with the operating budget. The true roots of the TTC's dilemma lie in the ignorance by our funding partners over the years of the Capital Budget and particularly that part of the Capital Budget that replaces worn out or obsolete infrastructure.
So began Mr. Gunn's litany and he kept it up, with variations, deviations, dissertations and sidebars for the rest of the day.
Mr. Gunn thought the Subway Operations Improvement Project report was the right thing and he appreciates concerns being brought to the attention of management. The areas of weakness in the organization are displayed in the ads we have put out for new General Superintendents. There may be the required talent within the TTC but he feels we require a good shot of new blood.
Many new initiatives have been put in place at the TTC since the accident and if the public wants to see how we are doing in this regard they can see the results in the monthly Chief General Manager's report.
Other points made by Mr. Gunn:-
The TTC is not about to be privatized. We loose too much money and need too much spent on us to bring us up to the state where private industry could see a profit. If any part of the TTC was ready for privatization it would be Wheeltrans.
JLA and Mr. LaRegina were not fired because they went around him to a Commissioner although he was not happy they did.
Business Units were a mistake.
The TTC produces more paper than any other organization Mr. Gunn knows. And yet they can find things when required.
Current management style is a series of interlocking committees. The future structure with the General Superintendents will have each GS prepare a set of Goals and Objectives and it will be up to that General Superintendent to see these through.
There is a lot of work required in re-writing job descriptions.
I want to know about problems but I also want to be offered some solutions.
Complacency is always a dangerous thing and our employees know that today. People have to be held accountable (that's novel!!).
It was out of character for the TTC to buy the Ericsson train stops.
The TTC has a history of identifying problems but there are no heroes in Transit, only survivors.
A state of good repair is linked to safety.
In reply to Mr. Punter's mantra, Mr. Gunn believes the system is safe, if it was not, he would shut it down as he has done at other properties in the past.
Mr. Birenbaum referred to the accident as a mishap. He had Mr. Gunn say that there was no indication that training was a problem and there were no plans to remove a replace in any way the Lunar White. Mr. Birenbaum went on again about the approaching of a red at speed but Mr. Gunn declined to get caught in that one. Mr. Gunn also felt that audits of the system were OK but the auditors would have to know what they were up to. He heavily hinted that unless auditors were very familiar with railways, like the National Transportation Safety Board in the States, then they weren't of much use to the TTC.
Mr. Birenbaum started worrying the issue of when the TTC report was released. Mr. Gunn explained it was ready for release in October but the Crown and the Coroners office asked us to withhold the document until they were ready for the Inquest start.
In reply to Mr. Gomberg, Mr. Gunn said he had real problems with Dr. Sender's analysis, especially as it referred to safety. Mr. Gunn believes the workforce is Safety Conscious.
By the time Mr. Falzone examined the witness, it was getting late in the afternoon and time pressures were beginning to take hold (see below). Mr. Gunn started to retreat into the "I wasn't there" syndrome when questions about activity prior to Jan 95 were brought up. He did explain to Mr. Falzone that motormen are supposed to operate according to the signal aspects displayed to them and the train stops are only there to re-enforce the aspects of the signal system as a last resort.
1) Mr. Gunn made comment on the amount of paper around the TTC. I guess he realizes that an organization that hides things from the Commission, protects itself from Blame Committees of various sorts and generally employs a very active CYA operation is going to bury itself in a paper mountain.
2) I was somewhat horrified to hear that Mr. Gunn expects to present a monthly Chief General Manager's report. This is a very serious step backwards. We have wasted man years of effort putting together nonsense in reports that no one reads.
Here's how Mr. Gunn's reports will be generated:- Body A, any typical employee who is not a bus driver, a worker bee on some tiny part of a small project, will spend about an hour a week writing out, in enough detail to fill about four or five pages, a lot of minutiae that only the worker bee is interested in. His boss will then condense this effort and the efforts of peer worker bees into a composite detail report of three or four pages. The next level does the same thing, then the General Superintendents (or their hangers on), then the General Managers (definitely the hangers on here ["HI!! My name is Bill Bloggs and I am supernumerary number one to General Manager Brown. I spent 50% of the last month assembling, chasing up, correcting, analyzing, straightening out, putting in standard form and printing, distributing and publicizing the efforts of General Manager Browns's Branch. I am a very busy fellow."]). And finally all this effort is reviewed and cauterized by the Chief General Manager and his hangers on for dissemination to the public. Mr. Gunn has demonstrated over the last couple of days and in his activities over the last year that to fall back into this "reporting" trap is the last thing we need to do.
Reporting leads to complacency, complacency leads to safety violations, increased safety reduces violations and leads to more reporting and so the cycle begins again. Constant vigilance is having Track patrols, Signal Maintenance, Equipment overhaul and all the things that Mr. Gunn outlined on the stand. When these things are humming along as they should, the effect will be services running to schedule in safe, clean and efficient equipment that the public can see for themselves and they wont have to run around reading reports to find out if we are doing our job. It will be obvious. This is somewhat akin to the TTC's position with respect to the Crown requiring information. Ask and ye shall receive. We should take the same attitude with respect to reporting our progress out of the current situation.
Anyone who needs to see how these monthly reports WILL deteriorate need only look at the documentary evidence I presented to Mr. Al Chocorlan at my retirement party of how such schemes WILL run awry.
3) Mr. Gunn has characterized himself as being the constant bearer of bad news to the Commission; of being interested in problems but also solutions. He had better prepare himself to be in the Commission's position. I hope Mr. Gunn abandons the idea of "monthly reporting" of "success" because the worker bees and everyone above them will never understand that all that should be reported are failures. This won’t happen because then their jobs will be in peril. Much better to concentrate instead on his demonstrated "waking up" capabilities as a result of his Management By Walking Around (the well known MBWA management technique). Mr. Gunn will achieve mightily.
We have never had a high level official who was interested enough in the minutiae to even look at it except when doing the Christmas Jollies Tour. To have a CGM who knows enough about the railroad to care is a real bonus and we should not waste it by having his underlings "colour" situations he can see for himself. For it is obvious to me, as someone who has been away from the TTC for a year now, that the hint of an idea that Mr. Gunn is about to visit has a very real "Shaping Up" value.
4) Mr. Gunn was very constant with his insistence that our funding partners pull their share of the weight. His concentration in getting the message across that the Province and Metro HAVE to come to our aid in supplying funds for the proposed Capital Budget was a stand that I have not seen any high official of the TTC take publicly in all the time I have been there. Indeed, with his fat pension in his pocket, it is the sort of stand I expected from Al Leach but which never came. True he may have said a few things across a dinner table at some point, but to sit in the witness box at the first Inquest the TTC has had in forty years where we are saying lack of vigilance, heightened by a lack of funds, caused the death of three passengers on August 11th is a stand that nobody has ever taken before. In much the same way that I am using these notes to get a few digs in, Mr. Gunn is definitely using this inquest to table his thoughts on the state of the TTC and how this state can be corrected. I wish him every success.
5) A courtroom story. As the rush to the wire intensifies (the participants can sense finality), there is a snowstorm of paper blizzarding in the courtroom. We have seen two TTC employees groveling to the media with handouts and today we saw Mr. Punter handing out stuff to the media to read. It's all rather seedy.
6) Dr. Huxter is off next week so the inquest is adjourned until Tuesday 27th February at 10:00 a.m.
Dave Irwin - 16 February 1996