Staff Report #1
September 29, 2021
To All Commissioners
Re: Alternative Service Delivery Implementation Plan – Innovation Park
That the report be NOTED and FILED.
As set out in Staff report #2 dated, January 27, 2021, the 2021 Work Program included the development of an Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) Implementation Plan to determine the best method to deliver service to unserved or under serviced areas of the city due to low ridership potential. The phasing plan set out on the Five-Year service Plan (2020-2024) called for the implementation of the first ASD in the Innovation Park Industrial area as well as expanding service hour coverage in the Sovereign Road area as part of the 2020 Service Plan improvements. With the deferral of the 2020 Service Plan, it was recommended that the first ASD be implemented in the above noted areas as part of the 2021 Service Plan improvements.
Dillon Consulting was contracted by London Transit to complete the assessment for Alternative Service Delivery Models in London with the focus specifically on the optimal methods to extend service to the Innovation Park area.
The vision for the On Demand service is to “provide a seamless and attractive mobility choice to Londoners in low demand areas as part of London Transit’s family of services.” The vision highlights the way in which an On Demand transit model should effectively coexist with other services offered by London Transit in a way that meets the needs of residents, employees and employers in areas that have low demand for transit services.
A number of guiding principles were developed as part of the process. The principles were grouped into themes of Customer Experience, Sustainability and Operations. The guiding principles will be used to ensure the selected On Demand transit models for each selected area of the City meet the fundamental vision for the On Demand service and are set out below.
Equity – The service should be available to any resident, regardless of age, gender, race, ability and income.
Safety and Security – The service must be safe and secure for customers. This means:
- stop locations are in well-lit areas, in an area that allows the vehicle to safely pull-over and the passenger to board/alight from an area separated from vehicle traffic (e.g. by a curb);
- all drivers have criminal-record checks, a safe driving record and vulnerable sector screening; and
- all vehicles that provide On Demand transit have a clearly identifiable LTC brand visible to the passenger before boarding.
Accessibility – The service should be accessible for all customers. This means;
- stop locations should meet LTC’s minimum accessibility requirements;
- an accessible trip must be made available to a passenger that requests a trip provided by an On Demand transit service; and
- the mobile trip booking software must be accessible for persons with vision loss or who are blind.
Ease of use – The service should be easy to use, including the trip booking and fare payment structures.
Access – The service should improve access to transit in areas or periods that are difficult to service using fixed-route transit.
Reliability – The service should be consistently reliable in terms of on-time performance and available to accommodate customer trips.
Integration – The service should provide the first-mile/last-mile connection to transit hubs and/or high frequency stops and timed to fixed-route services to minimize customer waiting time.
Convenience – The service should emphasize customer convenience when planning, booking, travelling and transferring to/from fixed-route services.
Congestion reduction – The service should operate efficiently, minimizing non-revenue vehicle time where vehicles are contributing to traffic and GHG emissions.
Fares – Fares should be the same as other London Transit services where On Demand transit is provided as an alternative to fixed-route service during the same hours of operation.
Scalability and Adaptability – The service should be scalable and adaptable, with the ability to accommodate future needs as technology and customer preference evolve.
Financial Sustainability – The service should operate within cost-recovery targets noted in LTC’s service guidelines. The focus should be to implement in areas/periods where it leads to a similar or improved level of service at a lower cost relative to fixed-route transit.
Oversight – The service model should minimize the amount of LTC administrative time and overhead required to oversee ongoing operations.
Service Delivery Options
On demand transit service can be structured in a number of different ways depending on the goals of the municipality and the market in which the service operates including, but not limited to;
- Origin to Hub (First mile/ Last mile) – On- Demand transit provides mobility to customers in lower demand areas to/from the nearest fixed-route transit stop or terminal.
- Origin to Destination – On Demand transit vehicles provide a one-seat ride to connect any origin with any destination in the service area. This means transfers are not required to a fixed-route service. This model is typically implemented in larger low-density geographic areas where there is not fixed-route service or in smaller geographic areas where it does not make sense to force a transfer.
- Flex Route – Flex routes operate on a fixed route and fixed schedule for certain portions of the routes; however, at the request of a passenger, the driver has the ability to ‘flex’ off the route to pre-designated areas to pick up or drop off a passenger (similar in nature to which the Community bus routes operate).
For the Innovation Park area, there is a significant amount of fixed route service with connections to both Argyle Mall and White Oaks Mall terminals within relatively close proximity. As a result it is not recommended to implement a full city-wide Origin-to-Destination model to service this area.
With the above vision statement, guiding principles and service delivery options in mind, three service options were selected as the most appropriate to further assess for the Innovation Park area;
- Conventional Service Provided by London Transit – LTC would operate the service using existing Operators and buses that would be equipped with technology for the On Demand service.
- Dedicated Contracted Service – service would be contracted to a private operator based on an hourly cost model. This option would likely use smaller vehicles and operate at a lower cost per hour which could result in a lower overall operating cost.
- Non-dedicated Contracted Service – Service would be contracted to a third-party non-dedicated operator such as a local taxi provider or a ridesharing service (i.e. Uber, Lyft, etc.). Non- dedicated contractors are typically compensated for each trip delivered based on a pre-established rate. This model is useful if demand for service in a particular area is too low to warrant a dedicated vehicle and if there is a supply of drivers to guarantee a trip request is delivered.
Each of the above operating models has benefits and challenges when assessed against the guiding principles as set out in the following table, with one X denoting the lowest adherence to the guiding principle and three checkmarks denoting the highest.
Assessment of Service Delivery Models Against Guiding Principles
|Guiding Principle||Conventional Service||Dedicated Contract||Non-Dedicated Contract|
|Safety and Security||X X X||X X X||X X|
|Accessibility||X X||X X X||X X|
|Reliability||X X||X X X||X X|
|Integration||X X X||X X X||X|
|Convenience||X||X X X||X X|
|Guiding Principle||Conventional Service||Dedicated Contract||Non-Dedicated Contract|
|Congestion Reduction||X X X||X X||X|
|Scalability and Adaptability||X||X X||X X X|
|Financial Sustainability||X X||X X X||X X|
|Ease of Implementation||X X X||X X||X X|
As the table indicates, when assessing the service delivery options against the relevant guiding principles, the dedicated contract option scores the highest on the majority of guiding principles noting it scores the best from an operating cost perspective as well as on all of the customer service principles.
A detailed assessment of service design options for Innovation Park was also completed. Three service design options were developed for Innovation Park and the surrounding employment areas.
- Operate On Demand within Innovation Park from the Argyle Mall terminal and maintain fixed-route service on Routes 30 and 37
- Convert Route 37 to an On Demand service, combined with the On Demand service to Innovation Park, operated from the Argyle Mall terminal. Continue to operate Route 30 as a fixed route service
- Convert Routes 30 and 37 to an On demand service, combined with the On Demand service to Innovation Park, operated from the Argyle Mall and White Oaks Mall terminals.
Assessment of Service Design Options Against Guiding Principles
|Guiding Principle||Option 1 Above||Option 2 Above||Option 3 Above|
|Reliability||X X||X X||X|
|Integration||X||X X||X X X|
|Convenience||X||X X||X X X|
|Financial Sustainability||X X X||X X X||X|
As with the service delivery options, each of the above service design options have benefits and challenges associated with implementation. While at a glance it appears that Options 2 and 3 provide for higher scores against the guiding principles, there is concern that riders of the existing Routes 30 and 37 will be disenfranchised with these options. Specific to Option 3, given the planned start up of the Maple Leaf Foods facility beginning in 2022 and ramping up over the following two years, it is anticipated that Route 30 will need to be enhanced, and as such, reducing it to an On Demand service at this time is not considered to be a prudent move. Further, with the underlying intent of the introduction of ASD services into new areas being a growth in ridership, with the potential to extend conventional routes into the area once warranted, a more appropriate approach would be Option 1 (On Demand with Innovation Park from Argyle Mall). With Innovation Park being the first area in London to have an On Demand service model implemented, operating a separate service between Argyle Mall and Innovation Park will allow London Transit to assess the On Demand operating model as well as the actual demand for services without potentially negatively impacting existing riders on Route 37. Converting existing fixed route industrial services in the area to combine with the On Demand service in Innovation Park may be explored in the future once there is a better understanding the actual demand for service.
Regardless of the service delivery option selected, the introduction of On Demand services will require the use of a technology platform to allow customers to book trips and provide direction to drivers with respect to pick-ups and drop-offs. The specialized service currently utilizes Routematch software to complete these tasks; however, the operating license currently covers the specialized service only. Administration will hold discussions with Routematch representatives with respect to the costs associated with expanding the license agreement to include the introduction of On Demand services. This approach is favoured given it will be the quickest to implement, and administrative staff are familiar with the Routematch software. Should this approach not be deemed feasible, a request for proposal will need to be issued for a software vendor.
In addition, administration will undertake a thorough review of the service delivery options assessed to determine which will provide for the most effective implementation, noting the following key issues require further assessment:
- The manner in which fares will be collected, noting that in order for the On Demand service to be considered fully integrated, customers will need the ability to utilize LTC smart cards and transfers similar to the way they do on conventional services.
- How quickly each of the service delivery options could be put in place.
- The length of time that may be required to commit should a third-party contractor be the desired option (noting the outstanding questions with respect to actual ridership demand in the Innovation park area)
Subsequent to completion of these assessments and the determination of a path forward, the appropriate next steps will be undertaken. Administration will continue to provide updates on this initiative as it moves forward.
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager