|TTC CEO Andy Byford. (JACK BOLAND/QMI Agency files)
TORONTO — City transit boss Andy Byford warned workers he'll throw them under the bus if they're caught breaking the rules.
Byford's stern memo sent out to transit employees Friday morning comes after several public embarrassments.
As QMI Agency reported Thursday, a rider snapped a photo of a streetcar driver reading a newspaper behind the wheel Wednesday morning. Other recent photos showed a fare collector sleeping and a subway driver texting on a cellphone while the train was in motion.
In his letter titled, Restoring the Public's Faith in a Safe TTC, Byford noted the recent cases have again put the transit authority's image and reputation under "intense scrutiny and severe criticism by the media and the travelling public."
"To be frank, we can't complain," Byford wrote.
"In recent days, photos and videos have emerged of staff asleep on the job, texting or appearing to read a newspaper while operating a vehicle, and parking illegally to get a snack. As your CEO, I cannot and will not defend such incidents.
"Such behaviours are not only unacceptable, they lead to even more scrutiny and potential for assault."
Byford blamed the problem on a "small minority of staff" who "wreck all of our reputations."
"To them I say: I will not back you, in fact I will expect you to face the consequences of your actions, especially if you put customers' safety at risk," he wrote.
"Between us, we can transform our company's reputation and stop this ongoing criticism of what we do. But we can only do this if everyone does their job professionally."
Byford said he's instructed managers to "back staff to the hilt" if they do the right thing or make an honest mistake.
"But to those few that choose to ignore safety rules or who recklessly make things worse for their colleagues by their actions, expect to be held to account," he said.
The stern letter came a day after Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 president Bob Kinnear told QMI the recent incidents are "unacceptable" and while he stressed the union must defend all its members, it doesn't condone the actions caught on camera.
"It is unacceptable for us as professionals to compromise safety in any way," he said.
Toronto Transit Commission chair Karen Stintz called Byford's letter "spot on".
Stintz said she was encouraged the TTC commission, top brass and the union all seem to be on the same page when it comes to these incidents.
"This is the kind of strong message we need to send," she said.