Staff Report #1
October 28, 2020
To All Commissioners
Re: Draft 2021 Conventional Transit Service Plan
That the Commission:
i) APPROVE, the Draft 2021 Conventional Service Plan;
ii) DIRECT administration to forward a copy of the Draft 2021 Conventional Service Plan report to Members of Council for their information;
iii) DIRECT administration to finalize the 2021 Conventional Service Plan and present same at the Commission’s January 27, 2021 meeting; and
iv) DIRECT administration to issue a Request for Proposal for the completion of an Alternative Service Delivery Implementation Strategy which will include a multi-year plan for implementation as well as a detailed assessment and recommendation of approaches to delivery.
At the February 27, 2019 meeting, the Commission approved the second Five-Year Service Plan Framework document for service changes over the period of 2020-2024. 2020 represents the first year of the second five-year service plan and builds upon the improvements implemented between 2015 and 2019. The 2020-2024 Framework focuses on six strategic directions to continue the momentum of improvement including;
- Enhance the Overall Levels of Service– There are three key factors that drive ridership growth; frequency, reliability and travel time. This strategic direction will promote the continued improvements to service levels as a method of making the service more attractive to London residents.
- Explore Alternative Service Delivery Models in New Communities- This direction in the plan is to begin to explore the use of Alternative Service Delivery Models (ASDs) in areas of the City that are currently unserved due to low ridership potential.
- Improve Direct Connections– Continue to expand on the grid network, identifying opportunities to provide more direct routes, connected to key destinations.
- Build on the Express Route Network– Continue to identify opportunities to expand the express route network and build ridership through improved service levels and enhanced connectivity to other routes.
- Eliminate 60 Minute Headways– Continue to improve the frequency of routes that operate every 60 minutes (during certain periods), targeting 30 minute headways or better, or the implementation of an ASD where the demand does not warrant a service increase.
- Minimize Impacts on Existing Passengers– Minimize the impacts on existing customers when modifications occur.
The overarching principle of the Five Year Service Plan Framework was to begin to implement service frequency improvements to the feeder routes that will be required as the rapid transit corridors are implemented. Postponing this work for an extended period of time will result in a significant amount of service improvements that will be required to be made in a shortened period in order to ensure proper integration of the local and rapid transit routes.
The 2020 Service Plan was highly focused on service frequency improvements on routes where ridership levels warrant the improvements, as well as beginning the elimination of 60-minute frequencies. In addition, the introduction of an alternative service delivery model serving the Innovation Park industrial area was planned.
The declaration of a global pandemic, and the resulting repercussions felt across the economy in general and public transit services specifically have resulted in the need to step back and reassess this Five Year Service Plan Framework. The initial step in this process was to defer what would have been the first year of the five-year plan in 2020 given COVID-19 related impacts on ridership, coupled with concerns related to an accumulating operating deficit.
As set out in Staff Report #3 dated October 28, 2020, ridership levels have been closely monitored throughout the pandemic period, and while ridership dropped to approximately 22% of normal expected levels in April, it has since recovered to be in the range of 40% to 50% of expected levels. In response to the lower ridership levels, service levels have been reduced to approximately 90% of what would normally be in place (based on 2019 service levels). Notwithstanding the lower ridership, crowding continues to be experienced on some routes.
The 2021 Operating Budget, which was approved by the Commission at the August 2020 meeting for submission to Municipal Council, was broken into two component parts. The first part is the base budget request, which provides for the budget required to continue the operation on a “status quo” basis (i.e. at 2019 service levels). The second part of the request includes the budget requirements for growth in service hours of approximately 18,000 hours, consistent with that envisioned in the Five Year Service Plan Framework.
Concerns with respect to the level of assessment growth that will be available for 2021 growth business cases, as well as what level of tax increase will be deemed acceptable by Municipal Council for base budget requests were raised by civic administration prior to the 2021 budget submission. Given the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, these concerns have been heightened. Additionally, the budget approved by the Commission included a projected shortfall of approximately $11.3 million associated with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, which, in absence of additional funding from senior levels of government, will require increased investment from the City of London, reduced levels of service, or a combination of both in order to ensure a balanced budget at year end. It is currently anticipated that Municipal Council will be approving the 2021 Operating and Capital budgets on January 12, 2021. This approval will provide administration with the necessary information relating to budget to table recommendations for the 2021 Service Plan at the end of January.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned concerns, in order to be in the position to implement any level of service improvements, the work associated with the 2021 Service Plan needs to get underway. As the report recommendations set out, the Commission is being asked to approve the Draft 2021 Service Plan in order to allow administration to undertake public consultation and a more detailed analysis of proposed changes. Given the current budget approval timeline, the final recommended 2021 Service Plan, which will be tabled at the January 2021 meeting, will be based on approved budgets.
The third part of the report recommendation calls for the issuance of a Request for Proposal for the completion of an Alternative Service Delivery Implementation Strategy which will include a multi-year plan for implementation as well as a detailed assessment and recommendation of approaches to delivery. This undertaking is deemed necessary in order to move this initiative forward, and regardless of whether implementation proceeds in 2021, will be a critical tool for moving forward.
2021 Draft Service Plan
Consistent with past practice, the 2021 draft service planning process takes direction from the recommendations in the 2020-2024 Five Year Service Plan Framework, but also includes assessments pertaining to:
- existing service performance issues and demands
- new growth areas
- customer contacts
- Operator, Inspector and Dispatcher feedback
Draft 2021 Service Plan Changes
Preparation of the 2021 draft Service Plan included consideration of the changes included in the 2020 Service Plan, those changes set out in the Five year Service Plan Framework for 2021, and current service conditions. All proposals were re-evaluated based on current circumstances to determine which changes continue to be warranted at this time. The 2021 service plan changes focus on enhancing overall service levels along routes where this is warranted based on current ridership and beginning to eliminate 60-minute frequencies.
The Draft 2021 Service Plan sets out the changes that are considered the highest priority, totalling approximately 24,000 hours on an annual basis and requiring seven additional peak period buses. Given the 2021 budget, as approved by the Commission, includes the addition of 18,000 annualized hours and five expansion buses, further assessment will be completed to prioritize changes consistent with budget allocations.
Table I below sets out the summary of the Draft 2021 Service Plan proposals, including a brief rationale for same.
Table I – 2021 Draft Service Plan
|Route||Description of Proposed Service Change||Annual Service Hours||Peak Buses||Rationale|
|Route 2||Weekday- Increase round trip time from 120 minutes to 135 minutes between 4 pm and 6 pm||504||1||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Route 4||Weekday- Increase weekday frequency from 20 minutes to 15 minutes between 9am and 4 pm||3,528||2||Ridership Demand|
|Route 10||Sunday- Increase Frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 5 pm and 10 pm||930||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Sunday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 40 minutes between 10 pm and 11 pm||186|
|Route 12||Weekday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 45 minutes between 9 pm and 12 am||756||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 8 am and 12 pm||208|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 6 pm and 9 pm||156|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 45 minutes between 9 pm and 12 am||156|
|Route 13||Weekday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes between 9 pm and 12 pm||1,512||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Route 16||Weekday- Increase round trip time from 80 minutes to 90 minutes and increase frequency from 17 minutes to 15 minutes between 9 am and 2 pm||1, 260||Schedule Adherence|
|Route 20||Weekday- increase frequency from 20 minutes to 15 minutes between 9 am and 2 pm||2,880||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Route 25||Weekday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes between 7 am and 9 am||504||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes between 9 am and 12 pm||756|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes between 12 pm and 2 pm||504|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes between 6 pm and 9 pm||756|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 6 pm and 9 pm||156|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 9 pm and 12 am||156|
|Sunday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 9 am and 12 pm||186|
|Sunday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 12 pm and 3 pm||186|
|Route 31||Saturday- Increase frequency from 50 minutes to 30 minutes between 8:30 am and 10 am||78||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes between 6 pm and 12 am||208|
|Sunday- Increase frequency from 50 minutes to 30 minutes between 8:30 am and 8 pm||713|
|Route 33||Saturday- Introduce service on a 34 minute frequency between 11 am and 7 pm (Fall/ Winter)||277||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Sunday- Introduce service on a 34 minute frequency between 11 am and 6 pm (Fall/ Winter)||290|
|Route 36||Weekday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 15 minutes between 6 am and 9 am and 2 pm and 6 pm||1,764||1||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Weekday- Extend service to 7:30 pm on a 30 minute frequency||126|
|Route 95||Weekday- Introduce a weekday Peak Period Semi-Express Route operating on a 30 minute frequency||3,528||2||Five Year Service Plan Proposal for 2021- Expanding the Express Route network|
|Route 102||Remove the downtown loop to turn around at Richmond and Queens||0||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 12 Weekday- Increase frequency from 12 minutes to 10 minutes between 9 am and 6 pm||1,512||1|
|Route 106||Weekday- Increase frequency from 20 minutes to 10 minutes between 6 pm and 9 pm||504||Recommended in 2020 service plan and still warranted|
A more detailed discussion of the proposed changes is provided in Enclosure I. The discussion includes high-level consideration of budget implications, and provides what is considered the most effective and efficient means to resolve each issue.
As a result of the impacts of COVID-19 and the limited ridership return on some routes, the previously approved 2020 Service Plan improvements set out in Table II are not recommended for implementation in 2021. Ridership growth on these routes will continue to be monitored through the annual service planning process and assessed for implementation when warranted.
Table II- 2020 Approved Service Changes Recommended for Deferral for Future Service Plan Reviews
|Route||Description of Service Change||Annual Service Hours||Peak Buses||Rationale|
|Route 2||Sunday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes between 9 am and 11 am||248||Sunday ridership has not returned to a level where an increase in frequency is warranted at this time|
|Sunday- Increase frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes between 6 pm and 10 pm||496|
|Route 25||Sunday- Extend service on a 41 minute frequency starting at 7 am||112||Sunday ridership has not returned to a level where an extension of service is warranted at this time|
|Route 31||Weekday- Increase frequency to 20 minutes between 6 am and 6 pm||3, 024||Weekday ridership return has been slow and frequency improvements are not warranted at this time|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 55 minutes to 30 minutes between 6 pm and 12 am||1, 512|
|Route 34||Weekday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 40 minutes between 6 am and 7 am||252||Ridership does not warrant an increase to frequency at this time|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 40 minutes between 6 pm and 9 pm||756|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 40 minutes between 8 am and 10 am||104|
|Sunday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 40 minutes between 10 am and 8:30 pm||651|
|Route 90||Sunday- Extend service on a 40 minute frequency between 7 pm and 9 pm||124||Later service extension is not warranted at this time based on current ridership|
Included in the 2020-2024 Five-Year Service Plan there were proposed recommendations scheduled to be implemented in 2021. Due to the deferral of the 2020 Service Plan improvements as well as current transit realities, the majority of the recommendations initially set out in the five-year plan for 2021 will be deferred for review as part of future service plan assessments. As set out in Table III, the following proposed changes from the five-year service plan are not recommended to be implemented in 2021.
Table III- 2021 Service Plan Proposals to be Deferred
|Route||Description of Service Changes||Annual Service Hours||Peak Buses||Rationale|
|Route 25||Weekday- Increase frequency from 60 to 30 minutes between 9 pm and 12 am||2,100||0||To be assessed as part of future service plan reviews|
|Saturday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes 6 am to 12 am|
|Sunday- Increase frequency from 60 minutes to 30 minutes Between 7 pm and 11 pm|
|Route 94||Weekday- Introduce 20 minute frequency between 9 am and 2 pm||6, 500||2||To be assessed as part of future service plan reviews|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 26 minutes to 20 minutes between 6 am and 9 am|
|Weekday- Increase frequency from 23 minutes to 15 minutes between 2 pm and 6 pm|
Alternative Service Delivery Models
One of the six strategic directions set out in the 2020-2024 Five-Year Service Plan, is to explore alternative service delivery models (ASD’s) in areas of the city that are currently unserved due to low ridership potential. The phasing plan set out in the framework 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. As a result of the impacts of COVID-19 implementation of Alternative Service Delivery models to the system were deferred for consideration as part of the 2021 Service Plan review process.
Through assessment of Industrial service ridership and anticipated ridership potential in the Innovation Park area, it has been determined that further assessment of ASD implementation is warranted at this time.
As this is the first ASD to be implemented in London, administration will be working with consultants to undertake an assessment of the ASD options available and determine the most appropriate model for this area. As indicated in the report recommendation, the first step in this process will be the completion of an Alternative Service Delivery Implementation Strategy, for which a request for proposal will be issued subsequent to Commission approval. It is anticipated that the ASD service in these areas will be implemented in September 2021 as part of the 2021 Service Plan.
Traditionally, public information sessions would be held in each of the areas most affected by the proposed service plan changes. Given the current climate and the continued impacts of COVID-19, traditional in person sessions will not be held for the 2021 Service Plan.
In order to gather public feedback, an online survey will be made available for the public to provide commentary. In addition, the detailed Plan will be included on the corporate website with contact information for the Planning department to allow customers to schedule a telephone discussion or provide commentary via email. As always, comments and feedback can also be made by emailing or phoning the customer service line.
London Transit will be promoting the draft service plan through traditional measures including the LTC website and social media platforms as well as through community associations.
Over the next three months, staff will further assess the identified priorities and refine the recommended service changes to be included in the final 2021 Service Plan.
As referenced, the final recommendations respecting the 2021 Conventional Service Plan are scheduled to be presented to the Commission for approval at its January 2021 meeting.
Consistent with the recommendations, this report will be shared with all Members of Council.
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager