Staff Report #1 – Customer Survey 2018

Staff Report #1

September 18, 2018

To All Members of the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee

Re: Customer Survey 2018


That the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee FORWARD the report to the Commission for their review and consideration.


At the June 18, 2018 meeting, the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee heard a delegation from a specialized transit customer with respect to a number of issues relating to the specialized service. The Committee requested staff to bring a report back providing commentary on the issues that were raised during the delegation, which is set out in the following report.

In addition to the delegation, the Committee also heard at the June 18, 2018 meeting that the annual Voice of the Customer survey program conducted on the conventional service would be expanded to include the specialized service in 2018, noting survey questions specific to the specialized service would need to be developed.

The remainder of the report provides commentary with respect to each of the issues raised by the delegation including reference to the questions that will be included in the upcoming Voice of the Customer survey. The survey results will provide an indication of the service priorities form the customer perspective as well as the levels of satisfaction with each of the identified priorities and will be a critical input into the next four year Business Plan.

On Time Reliability

Commentary from the delegation specific to their personal experience indicated the following with respect to the on time reliability of the specialized service.

  • it is common for buses to be late or early
  • customers are expected to be ready 10 minutes prior to their scheduled pick up time but there is no requirement for the provider to advise the customer if they are running late

On time reliability is tracked and reported on monthly, as set out in Staff Report #4, dated September 18, 2018. As indicated in the report, on time performance beginning in April 2017 worsened, noting it was directly related to the change over to the new scheduling system and the learning curve for both the schedulers and the drivers.

The on time reliability of the specialized service has been the number 1 priority from the customer perspective in every customer survey undertaken. As such, it is a primary focus and consideration when scheduling trips each day. Service reliability can be impacted by a number of factors outside of the driver’s control including construction, inclement weather, a previous customer or customers not being at their designated pick up location (no-show), etc. The trip assigners work with drivers real-time to adjust schedules and respond to these situations to the best of their ability, noting every day of service is booked to capacity in effort to provide as many trips as possible.

The Voice of the Customer questions relating to on time reliability will include asking the customer to rate the importance of on time reliability as well as provide an indication of their perception of it. These results will be compared with actual results when the survey results are reported.

Trip Availability

Commentary from the delegation also included concern with respect to trip availability. Consistent with the overcrowding conditions experienced on the conventional service, the specialized service continues to have demand that exceeds capacity notwithstanding the significant growth in service hours that has been applied over the past number of years. The table below sets out the growth in service hours over the past 5 years as well as the growth in ridership and registrants.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Variance
Service Hours (000’s) 103.4 111.0 116.2 122.6 134.8 30 %
Total Ridership (000’s) 255.3 267.0 273.0 286.7 306.1 20 %
Registrants (000’s) 5.2 5.9 6.7 7.5 8.3 60 %
Non Accommodated/Registrant 3.1 2.4 2.4 1.6 1.2 (61)%

As the chart indicates, service hours have increased by 30% over the past 5 year period, with plans to continue growth going forward. Registrants on the specialized service have also increased significantly (60%) over the period, however the non-accommodated trips per registrant have continued to decline. Given the anticipated change in demographics associated with the ageing population, the growth rate in registrants for the specialized service is not expected to slow in the near term, budget plans include continued growth in service hours of approximately 6,000 hours for 2019.

When looking at ridership growth on the specialized service, it is important to remember that all specialized service registrants are provided with a non-peak pass which allows them to ride the conventional service free during non-peak operating times. This ridership is included in the conventional ridership statistics.

Voice of the Customer questions relating to service availability will include breakdowns by time of day and day of week. This information can be utilized to better match service levels to the days and times that service is most in demand.

Length of Booking Window

Given the door to door nature of the specialized service, registrants are required to pre-book their trip in order that trip assigners have the opportunity to create schedules to deliver the daily service. Currently, the specialized service operates with a three day booking window, requiring registrants to call and book their trip three days in advance. Booking windows for specialized services across the province range between 1 and 14 days, with the majority of systems utilizing a seven day window. In 2002, London reduced the booking window from seven days to three days in response to customer requests for a shorter window.

Commentary from the delegation included reference to allowing customers to book trips several months in advance for medical appointments. The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits the prioritizing of trips as well as the need for customers to indicate their reason for travel at the time of booking. As such, the only way to allow customers to book medical appointments months in advance would be to open the booking window for all trips to be several months in advance. Experience of specialized transit providers indicates that the longer the booking window, the greater the chance for cancellations and no shows, which result in a service that costs more to deliver fewer trips.

The Voice of the Customer survey will include a question with respect to the level of satisfaction with the current three day booking window. It will be important to be able to differentiate between a customer’s satisfaction with the booking window and their inability to secure a desired trip, noting that if the supply and demand for service remain constant, expanding the booking window will not result in an increased availability of trips.

Service Delivery During Inclement Weather

Commentary from the delegation with respect to on time performance during inclement weather suggested that schedules be adjusted in advance of an impending weather event that is expected to impact service given the significant delays that can occur.

Schedules are created in effort to provide as many trips as possible each day. In order to amend schedules to allow for additional travel time due to weather, trips would need to be cancelled by the scheduler prior to the beginning of the service day. Given the uncertainty with respect to weather forecasts, as well as the unpredictability of the actual impact weather will have on travelling conditions, cancelling trips to make room in schedules just in case of weather impacts is not recommended.

There is no recommended question specific to this issue for the Voice of the Customer survey.

Safety On the Vehicle

The delegation raised concern with respect to the manner in which a mobility aid was secured on board the specialized vehicle. Safe transportation of passengers and equipment is the highest priority, and as such, any time a customer feels that their safety is in question while on public transit, the concerns are investigate. In this case, the delegate was advised of the contact information for the staff that would meet to discuss the issue.

Safety in general will be a topic included in the Voice of the Customer survey, both from the perspective of riding the vehicle as well as while waiting to be picked up.

Satisfaction with Customer Service Responses

The delegation referenced an instance where an incident was reported to customer service and no response was received, specifics of the incident were not provided.

Satisfaction with the service in general, as well as contact with customer service specifically will be measured in the Voice of the Customer survey. This will include specific reference to levels of satisfaction for customers who have made contact with customer service and the responses they received.

Recommended by:

Christopher Murphy, Supervisor, LCTB

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager