Staff Report #1
May 31, 2023
To All Commissioners
Re: Draft 2022 Annual Report
That the Commission:
- APPROVE the Draft 2022 Annual Report, attached as Enclosure I; and
- DIRECT the administration forward the approved 2022 Annual Report to Municipal Council for its review and consideration.
The Draft 2022 Annual Report, as set out in Enclosure I, is being presented for Commission review and approval. Subsequent to Commission approval, the final Annual Report will be presented to Municipal Council via the Civic Works Committee for their review and consideration.
The LTC Business Plan sets the direction respecting the development of LTC as an organization and the services it delivers. The Business Plan process, as depicted below serves as the basis for accountability and transparency.
In the 2019-2022 Business Plan, London Transit is defined by its vision to be the valued and trusted mobility choice for Londoners. The vision is supported by the mission statement which is Moving Londoners – progressively, reliably and affordably. The vision and mission are supported by five strategic outcomes:
- An integrated, affordable and valued mobility choice
- An engaged, diverse and respectful workplace
- Demonstrated fiscal accountability
- Being open, transparent and understood
- Effective utilization of infrastructure
Consistent with the Business Planning Process, each year an annual report is completed and shared publicly. The report provides an overview of how the LTC performed against each of the strategic outcomes identified in the Business Plan.
While 2022 saw relief from most pandemic-related restrictions, it was not immune from pandemic-related impacts; the two most significant of which were supply chain and labour market. While transit riders began to return to pre-pandemic travel patterns and service expectations at an increasing rate, the ability of the organization to respond with increased service levels to better match the increased demand was significantly hampered.
In order to increase service levels to first return to pre-pandemic levels and then begin implementation of the 2021 and 2022 service improvements, the depleted Operator complement needed to be addressed. As such, a focused effort on Operator recruitment and on boarding began in mid-2021, and will continue through the remainder of 2023. Between April 2021 and the end of 2022, 122 Operators were hired, trained and placed in service.
While recruitment and on-boarding for the Operator position ran relatively smoothly throughout 2022, the vacancies in the Fleet and Facilities department proved more difficult to fill. This coupled with a higher rate of short term absences throughout the year, resulted in difficulties completing the work assigned to each shift in order to ensure bus availability for service each day. Adding to this difficulty was the delay in receipt of the 2022 replacement bus order, which resulted in the need to maintain 17 buses longer than anticipated. In a number of cases, the decision was made to park the bus scheduled for retirement rather than perform costly repairs however this approach negatively impacted the total fleet availability.
The aforementioned impacts resulted in service levels not being increased to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, notwithstanding the significant increases in ridership. The differential between the service levels operating and those required to meet the demand negatively impacted a number of the measures utilized to assess the conventional transit service performance in 2022.
The table below sets out the performance against the outcomes for the 2022 fiscal year, none are graded excellent given the deviation from the Business Plan required as the result of the pandemic.
|An integrated, affordable and valued mobility choice||Satisfactory||While service levels were not able to meet demand through 2022, efforts were focused on ensuring that service provided was reliable.|
|Demonstrated fiscal accountability||Good||Notwithstanding significant price escalation on key budget items including fuel and bus prices, budgets were managed within the Commission’s resources.|
|Being open, transparent and understood||Good||Continued use of communication tools such as social media and Commission website to ensure up to date information was available for all stakeholders.|
|Effective utilization of infrastructure||Good||Capital programs continued as planned through 2022 noting some modifications were required due to significant inflationary pressures.|
|An engaged, diverse and respectful workplace||Good||Overall priority centered on ensuring the health and safety of all employees (including psychological health)|
When considering the grades provided, it is important to recognize that they were measured against progress on the initiatives included in the Business Plan while also giving consideration to the ongoing issues associated with operating a transit system through a pandemic, which in some cases necessitated deviation from specific initiatives.
The recognition by all levels of government of the value that a viable public transit service provides to its community resulted in the provision of the Safe Restart Funding Program, which provided for funding to support the continuation of services noting the losses in revenue and increased operating costs that were being experienced by all transit systems. During the pandemic period, historical measures including rides per service hour and cost recovery ratios were no longer the driving factors in decision making, with discussions centering on ensuring that adequate service levels remained in place to provide the ability for transit riders to access essential services and jobs. In 2022, $6.5 million in Safe Restart funding was utilized to balance the operating budget, without access to this funding, significant service level reductions would have needed to occur.
This recognition provided a reminder to transit systems that the value they provide is measured by three key stakeholder groups; the transit customer, the community at large, and the taxpayer. What also became clear is that each group’s values cannot be measured solely by the traditional metrics that transit systems have relied upon. Further, the onset and continuation of the pandemic which has resulted in significant shifts in the manner in which people work and move in their communities has significantly impacted the transit system’s ability to predict and plan for the future. Ensuring transit systems are able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances while addressing the top priorities of all stakeholders will be the key to sustainable systems going forward.
While 2022 brought with it new challenges as the organization faced labour force and supply chain issues which hampered abilities to return to pre-pandemic service levels and add service growth, notwithstanding these challenges, London Transit employees continued to demonstrate their creativity, resiliency, dedication and commitment to providing public transit services in London.
The theme of the 2019-2022 Business Plan is “Maintaining the Momentum” intended to relay the underlying objectives of the Plan, which are to continue with initiatives tied to improving service for both conventional and specialized customers, and in conjunction improve the overall customer experience. The four year Business Plan included a number of key initiatives, all intended to contribute to the underlying objective. The onset of the global pandemic in March 2020 resulted in the need to direct focus away from some initiatives included in the Business Plan toward ensuring the conventional and specialized services continued to operate in a manner that was safe for both employees and riders.
While the pandemic remained a concern through 2022, ridership returned to the highest rate since the onset of the pandemic, which was a challenge to accommodate given labour and supply chain issues, leading to customer frustrations with service reliability. Significant focus was directed at recruitment throughout 2022 for both London Transit and the contracted service provider for the specialized service in an effort to get increased complement levels to allow for additional service to be put in place. Progress was made for both services, however not to the extent that service improvements beyond the pre-pandemic service levels could be implemented. 2023 is set to see significant improvements in service levels on both the conventional and specialized services with the planned introduction of the approved growth hours from 2021 and 2022 that have yet to be implemented. By May 1, 2023 both the conventional and specialized services had returned to pre-pandemic service levels, with the plan for the remainder of the year being to implement the outstanding growth hours.
While ridership levels and demand have returned, the travel patterns and priorities for riders has changed, due in part to the continued option of working from home for many employers. These changes, coupled with the planned growth in the community stemming from immigration over the coming year, will all be assessed in detail as part of the next 5 Year Service Plan process, which will launch later in 2023. This process will also include consideration of how the integration of the conventional and specialized services can result in an improved and more sustainable service for all Londoners. The final plan will set the framework for service improvements for the period of 2025-2029.
In addition to the service improvements planned for 2023, a number of transformational infrastructure projects that are underway will reach significant milestones in 2023. Funding approval from senior levels of government is anticipated to be confirmed for both the Electric Bus Procurement project and the Highbury Avenue Facility Replacement in 2023, subsequent to which the projects will proceed. With respect to the Electric Bus Procurement, pending funding approval, a contract for the supply of a turnkey program providing 10 electric buses and related charging infrastructure will be awarded later in 2023, and retrofit work at the Wonderland Road facility required to accommodate the new buses and charging infrastructure will get underway. Pending funding approval for the Highbury Facility Replacement, a contract for the detailed design will be awarded and work will begin on the detailed design for the replacement facility.
2023 will also see the development and submission of the next multi-year operating budget covering the period of 2024-2027 which will be critical in determining the availability of funding to implement the 5 Year Service plan and Ridership Growth Strategies. These initiatives are included in Municipal Council’s Strategic Plan as required in order to reach a number of expected results under the Mobility and Transportation outcome. Notwithstanding inclusion in the Strategic Plan, the multi-year budget process is anticipated to be challenging given the inflationary impacts across all sectors resulting in increased costs to continue the same service levels, coupled with the myriad of growth initiatives included in the Strategic Plan that are will be competing for the same available funding. Finally, Mobility Master Plan update will continue through 2023, and when complete will provide long term mode share targets for all modes of transportation in the city as well as recommended strategies and supporting policies to assist in meeting the targets. Transit specific recommendations in the final Mobility Master Plan will be incorporated into LTC’s Business Plan and 5 Year Service Plans.
In summary, 2023 will see important research undertaken to gain a better understanding of new and pending ridership patterns and expectations which will inform the path forward for public transit services in London. The multi-year budget allocations for growth in public transit services over the next four years will determine the rate at which the identified initiatives can be undertaken.
Mike Gregor, Director of Finance
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Joanne Galloway, Director of Human Resources
Craig Morneau, Director of Fleet & Facilities
Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager