Toronto Transit Commission CEO Rick Leary Stepping Down

Toronto Transit Commission CEO Rick Leary Stepping Down
A Toronto Transit Commission streetcar drives past the downtown skyline in Toronto on June 6, 2024. (The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn)
Andrew Chen

Rick Leary is resigning as the CEO of Toronto’s public transit agency after a six-year tenure that included some of the commission’s biggest challenges.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) top boss announced his decision to step down in June 20 statement. He said he will leave the position Aug. 30 on his own terms, allowing him to explore new opportunities before fully retiring.
“This year I turned 61, and I believe there are some new opportunities and challenges that await me before I fully retire. And that’s where I’m at today – looking at the next phase of my career,” he wrote.

Mr. Leary joined the TTC in 2014 as Chief Service Officer and later assumed the role of Deputy CEO after former CEO Andy Byford left to become president of New York City Transit Authority. After garnering the top job in 2018, Mr. Leary focused on bus and streetcar services operations, advancing the TTC’s Capital Investment Plan, and securing infrastructure funding.

Reflecting on his decade with the TTC, Mr. Leary noted his accomplishments, including the recent negotiation of a new Collective Agreement with ATU transit union Local 113. He said the deal would ensure three years of labour peace and that this milestone is a critical factor in the timing of his departure.

His tenure coincided with major challenges for the transit system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in service cuts and increased fares.

Over the past few years, the transit system has experienced a series of violent incidents, reflecting a broader trend affecting public transportation nationwide. Mr. Leary has been actively engaged in addressing these challenges, participating in meetings with the mayor, the Toronto Police Service, and union representatives to enhance safety and security measures.
In his statement, Mr. Leary also addressed a cybersecurity challenge faced by TTC. In the April 2024 incident, a “threat actor” gained access to TTC systems through a phishing attack, used malware to encrypt data, and exfiltrated information.

Mr. Leary expressed gratitude to the TTC’s 17,000 employees and city officials for their support, including former Mayor John Tory and current Mayor Olivia Chow.

Ms. Chow thanked Mr. Leary for leading the TTC “through some of the most challenging times,” in a June 20 social media post, and also talked about what is next for the TTC.
“More details on the next steps towards finding a new CEO will be shared by the TTC in the coming weeks,” she wrote. “As we move forward, I remain committed to continuing the work of building a more reliable, convenient and affordable public transit system.”