CUTAyyz put the customer at the heart of transit

McCartney Lee

Every fall, CUTA holds its Annual Conference and Transit Show to link our members and stakeholders to industry trends, professional development, and networking opportunities. This year’s conference, hosted by Metrolinx and the TTC from November 18 to 21, took place in downtown Toronto and focused on the theme of Putting the Customer at the Heart of Transit. With over 800 industry professionals in attendance, CUTAyyz welcomed a large and diverse audience of transit professionals. This included 732 returning members and 51 new CUTA members.

The first day of the conference began with an opportunity to attend a tour of the Distillery District Christmas Market, hosted by Metrolinx, followed by a welcome reception at Steam Whistle Brewery, sponsored by Cummins Westport.   

To launch the full conference on Monday, November 19, we heard remarks from Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek who both spoke about the need for long-term, sustainable transit investment. Conference sessions were a major highlight of the week, featuring a wide array of topics, workshops, and panel discussions.

Under the broader theme of customer service, attendees had the opportunity to take part in sessions related to accessibility, investment, community building, diversity, marketing, cultural change, alternative propulsion, and regional travel. These were complemented by two new sessions focused on bringing awareness to cannabis legalization and the #MeToo movement and women’s safety. This year there was also a dynamic presentation on Women in Transit Leadership, featuring a discussion held by the TTC and Metrolinx.

“I am happy to welcome members of CUTA to Toronto & to help kick off this annual conference. This year's theme is putting the customer at the heart of transit – an important philosophy as we look to the future & the need to build more transit in our cities.” – Tweet by John Tory, Mayor of Toronto

Collaborative workshop sessions covered topics such as labour relations, urban rail, green municipal funds, accessible transit, large & small system issues, and safety and security. These workshops were a great way for members to work through some of their transit challenges by putting dozens of professionals in a room together to set an agenda and tackle industry obstacles.   

This year we were lucky to have a total of 11 technical tours hosted by the TTC and Metrolinx, showcasing state-of-the-art operations and project plans throughout the GTA. These included unique opportunities to see inside both the TTC’s control centre and the newly completed GO Transit Network Control Centre.

On the second day of the conference, a networking breakfast was opened with remarks from MP for Spadina-Fort York Adam Vaughan and transit show sponsor Ted Dowling of BYD. With the help of CUTA President and CEO Marco D’Angelo, a ceremonial ribbon was cut and the Canadian Transit Show was officially open. Over 1,450 people attended the show, which featured state-of-the-art vehicles and services available to the transit industry. The Transit Show also included a RAILconnect series of mini-presentations with representatives from every rail system in Canada providing updates and information on current operations.

“Welcome to Toronto, where investment in transit is making a difference in peoples’ lives” – Adam Vaughan, MP, Spadina-Fort York


On the last day of the conference, we were pleased to host the CUTA Awards, which recognize the organizations and people who have worked tirelessly to innovate and improve the Canadian transit industry. The CUTA Corporate Leadership Awards and Individual Leadership Awards included two new inductions into the Canadian Transit Hall of Fame – Paul Smith of New Flyer and John Ford of the London Transit Commission. Congratulations to all 2018 award recipients!

“It’s been so rewarding to meet so many of you over the last few days, and I look forward to meeting many more of you in the months ahead. Thank you very much for coming. Without you and your passion for transit, none of this would be possible.” – Marco D’Angelo, President and CEO of CUTA

Click here to read more about our 2018 award winners.

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