Staff Report #7
January 30, 2019
To All Commissioners
Re: 2018 – 2019 Road Construction Update
The report be NOTED and FILED.
Schedule adherence was significantly impacted on many routes through the 2018 construction season. The annual operating budget provides for the addition of construction trippers to mitigate the impacts of construction however, they are generally most effective for maintaining schedules when used for construction that requires significant detours resulting in a substantial increase in running time due to distance travelled. Additional tripper buses were not utilized for the major construction projects in 2018 as many of the routes remained on regular routing through the construction zones or only had minor detours that did not add significant distance to the route. The addition of buses through construction areas such as the ones experienced in 2018 often add to the already congested corridors due to slowdowns caused by the work underway. As outlined in the chart below, schedule adherence greatly improved on the routes that travelled through major construction areas once the work was completed.
PM Peak On Time Performance October to December 2018 Chart
As was the case in 2018, LTC administration will continue to work closely with civic administration as well as the specific contractors on each major construction project to ensure regular communication regarding the status of projects in an effort to mitigate the impact of construction on service and ridership by allowing buses to operate in work zones where it is deemed safe to do so. In 2018 LTC attended weekly meetings with civic administration, specifically to discuss the impacts of ongoing and upcoming downtown construction projects and will resume attendance when the group reconvenes in March 2019.
Buses off Dundas
Construction work continues on the Dundas Place project. The section of the project between Ridout and Richmond was completed on December 20, 2018 with the section between Richmond and Wellington scheduled to be completed in fall 2019. Currently Dundas St is open to vehicle traffic however there is ongoing work throughout the winter to prepare for major work to start again in the spring. Construction causing the closure of Dundas is scheduled to begin again in April 2019. Although this project is not on a transit route, the traffic that would normally choose to use Dundas as their preferred route will once again be re-directed eastbound to King St and Queens Ave when travelling west. The additional traffic on King and Queens where LTC buses operate will add to the congestion and is expected to contribute to schedule adherence issues as it did in 2018.
Richmond Street Lane Channeling
Since the beginning of September 2018, Richmond has seen multiple short-term construction projects in addition to the three year project in the southbound lanes north of Dufferin St. that have required lane channeling. The lane channeling has added to the stress the system has experienced regarding schedule adherence and it is anticipated that it will continue to do so. Administration will continue to consider alternative routing options if warranted while still providing an appropriate level of service in this corridor while the lane channeling continues.
Wilton Grove Road
On Tuesday October 2, 2018, London Transit was notified by the Engineering Firm (Parsons) that construction work would be starting on Wilton Grove Road between Hubrey and Commerce on October 9, 2018. The work will be completed in two phases and is anticipated to last up until June 2019. Administration has met with the City of London and Parsons to discuss possible detour options for the buses during each phase of the construction and unfortunately due to the work and the limited surrounding roadways, there are no viable detour options.
For Phase 1, the signed detour for vehicle traffic is to travel south on Hubrey, east on Green Valley to north on Highbury Ave. This is not an option for transit vehicles as the turn at Green Valley and Highbury is an un-signalized intersection onto a high speed and high volume roadway. Additionally, all traffic through the area will be detoured along these roads potentially causing significant delays.
For Phase 2, the signed detour for vehicle traffic is to travel east on Wilton Grove to Highbury to Bradley to Old Victoria. This option would add approximately 26 minutes to the running time for this route, and therefore would require an extra vehicle to be added to maintain frequency and schedule adherence. The cost of the additional vehicle for the eight month project (approximately 165 days) would be approximately 1,700 hours. Additionally, an extra vehicle and Operator would be required for 10.5 hours per day. Based on the current budget and resource availability, this is not a viable option.
Phase 1 of the work was delayed with construction starting on October 22, 2018. LTC administration has been in continuous contact with the City of London and the contractor to develop a plan to allow transit access while it is safe to do so through the area of construction.
An onsite meeting was held on October 24, 2018 where LTC administration was informed that due to the progress at the site, LTC buses would not be able to pass safely once excavation commenced the week of October 29, 2018. Communication went out on October 24, 2018 indicating that starting on October 29, 2018, Route 30 will no longer provide service to the Cheese Factory area and the route would be short turned at Hubrey and Wilton Grove to return back to White Oaks Mall for the duration of the construction period (see Figure III). Given the rather short notice of the detour, in addition to the Twitter and website communication, and in an effort to ensure all affected transit riders were made aware of the detour, London Transit staff were also onboard Route 30 on October 25, 2018 to speak directly with passengers about the upcoming detour and answer any questions regarding same.
Further assessments will be required as the project progresses due to the uncertain nature when excavating for the deep sewer work and alternative detour routings will continue to be considered as the project progresses. On January 22, 2019 LTC administration was informed by the City of London that Phase I is scheduled to be completed the first week of February to allow eastbound traffic on Wilton Grove. LTC Administration will be attending an onsite meeting with the City Of London and the contractor to evaluate if the area will be safe for buses to pass upon this completion. If buses can travel eastbound on Wilton Grove between Hubrey and Highbury, the detour route will be modified to allow passengers to travel as far to the east as safely possible. The impact of Phase 2 with regards to LTC vehicles being able to operate in the construction area east of Highbury allowing service to the Cheese Factory area has yet to be communicated to administration with certainty.
Figure III – Route 30 Detour
Western Bridge Closure
On Wednesday October 10, 2018, London Transit was notified by Western University that due to an engineering assessment, the bridge on University Drive would be closed to vehicular traffic starting sometime during the week of October 15, 2018. Due to the uncertainty of when the closure would commence and in an effort to provide riders with as much advance notice as possible, communication went out starting on October 10, 2018 that Routes 6, 13 and 106 would be detoured effective Monday October 15, 2018. Routes 6 and 106 were detoured via Richmond, Windermere, Perth Drive to access Natural Science. Both routes resume regular routing southbound at Natural Science. The University Hospital access road is currently utilized as a turn-around for Route 13 as the alternative detour to serve Natural Science would add significant round trip time, impacting the schedule adherence on the entire route. The detour for Route 13 results in the stops at Delaware Hall not being serviced during this time. On January 10, 2019 LTC administration was notified by Western University that the project would be complete by March 1, 2019 allowing the service to resume regular routing. Communication regarding same will be provided to passengers closer to March 1, 2019 that the bridge will open and the buses will return to regular routing as a result.
The underlying goals with respect to communications regarding detours are to provide passengers and Operators with as much information as far in advance as possible, noting that dates and impacts can change without notice. Accomplishing both of these goals requires a balanced approach.
Overall the communication strategy for the 2018 construction season was successful with limited contacts regarding passengers unaware of detours and stop closures. The majority of contacts received regarding construction were related to schedule reliability with buses delayed due to operating conditions through construction zones. As a result, time-stamped tweets were initiated to inform passengers of where slowdowns were occurring and directing them to InfoWeb for real time bus arrival information. An assessment of the communication strategy for the 2019 construction season will be conducted before the start of the major construction projects.
Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager