Staff Report #1
June 27, 2018
To All Commissioners
Re: Industrial Service Strategy Update
That the Commission:
i) APPROVE Employment Shuttles, TransCab/Dial-a-Ride, and Trippers as the three alternative service delivery models to be considered for pilot programs serving London’s Industrial areas;
ii) DIRECT administration to hold further consultations with industrial area employers to determine the viability of and most appropriate model for each area; and
iii) DIRECT administration to include recommendations with respect to industrial area pilot programs in the Draft 2019 Service Plan
The focus of the industrial service review are lands zoned industrial which currently have transit service provided during limited times of the day or are without nearby transit service. The areas identified are the Airport Industrial area, Sovereign Road, Veteran’s Memorial Parkway (VMP/401), Wilton Grove, Innovation Park and Exeter/White Oaks Road.
Transit services to modern industrial areas are a complex issue influenced by a number of challenges, many of which are competing in nature. The complexities and challenges associated with providing transit service to industrial areas are not limited or unique to London. Many municipalities struggle to provide transit services to industrial areas whether it is limited service (i.e. peak only – Monday to Friday) or full service (full service – Monday to Sunday). The challenges include:
- Land use patterns/policies
- Nature of employment i.e. various operating shifts
- Economics of service delivery
- Revenue recovery of industrial services
- Cost of service and source of funding
- Development Charge Act issues and City’s economic policies respecting industrial areas
With respect to the economics of servicing industrial service areas, there are a number of factors which impact the operating economics, including:
- the location of modern industrial sites (periphery of city)
- design – large buildings, significant set-backs, limited pedestrian amenities
- nature of employment – multiple shifts 24/7
- source of employment – travel from all areas of the city (creating the need for passenger transfers which impacts service routing and scheduling i.e. reconciled with other routes in the system)
In November 2017, the Commission directed administration to review the industrial service strategy, and include consideration of service improvements in industrial areas as part of the 2019 Service Plan. The review of the strategy included the following:
- online and telephone interviews of Industrial area employers conducted by the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) and London Transit
- a peer review of industrial and/or periphery service offered by other transit agencies across the country conducted by Dillon Consulting
- an Industrial Transit Summit which included industrial employers, Members of Council, agencies representing job seekers, the City of London and other key stakeholders
- existing industrial transit experience
In order to gain insight into the number of employees, types of businesses and operating hours in both the industrial areas with existing transit service, and those that are not currently within 400 meters of a transit route, LEDC and London Transit conducted employer surveys. Of the 750 total businesses in the defined industrial areas, 336 responses were received. Generally the survey found:
- 42% of respondents indicated limited or no access to London Transit, specifically in the Meadowbrook Drive, Exeter Road and White Oaks Road areas
- of the respondents, it is anticipated that the current workforce will increase by 37% over the next three years (from 7,741 currently to 10,639 in 2021)
- on average 49% of respondents indicated that at least some of their current employees use transit
- 25% of respondents state the long walk from the closest transit stop to the business is a deterrent for taking transit
- 20% of respondents state the current bus schedules do not coordinate with shift times
- shift start and end times are not consistent among businesses within the same areas
The complete survey results are set out in Enclosure I.
Dillon Consulting was retained by London Transit to complete a peer review of various industrial park transit services provided by other transit systems in Canada. The review consisted of two parts, Part I involved a short survey hosted on Survey Monkey to gather preliminary information on industrial route service and/or other on-demand models that could be applicable to industrial park areas that are currently provided by transit systems across Canada. Part II involved a more detailed review of six properties to better understand the operational details and implementation issues of the industrial service and/or on-demand service models.
Servicing an industrial area is a common requirement of a local transit agency but is sometimes treated differently from the regular service offered to other parts of the municipality. The following service delivery models were assessed.
Fixed-route service- The standard fixed-route approach is a regular route that operates on a fixed schedule and serves the industrial area(s). A fixed-route service to an industrial area is a traditional, standard transit service approach. An industrial area fixed-route often only operates during peak periods on weekdays but can also include weekend, midday, and overnight service.
Trippers– The tripper model is an extension of the general fixed-route service. Additional buses – or “trippers” – are sent out to supplement the fixed-route service during short-term peak demand periods (such as same shift start or end times for multiple employees) to protect against overcrowding. Sufficient demand must warrant an operation of a tripper before it is added to the schedule. Adding a tripper bus increases the frequency of service for the critical demand time. For industrial area service, trippers would generally be focused on employee shift times.
Branch Routes– Branch routes are a variant of a fixed-route service. Branch routes are a pattern of a regular route that deviates from the main route serving a different area and/or terminal point. These branch routes often have less frequent service than the main route and are more suitable to lower demand destinations, such as industrial park areas.
Employment/Industrial Shuttles- Employment or industrial shuttles are alternatives to a fixed-route service. This model is usually adopted in partnership with the employers, who will request pick-up and drop-off transit service for their workers during peak shift periods. The shuttles would service only employees of the partnering employers, picking them up at either pre-determined “stops” or at their homes, and dropping them off at the entrance to their place of employment (with the reverse trip being completed at the end of a shift). Employment or industrial shuttles do not run outside of the shift start and end-times and do not typically serve the general public.
On-Demand Service– Unlike a fixed route or shuttle service, on-demand service is a transit service that adapts specifically to the needs of each individual employee. It does not follow a fixed routing nor does it adhere to a fixed schedule. There are multiple models of on-demand service; some examples for industrial areas could include the use of specialized vehicles or TransCabs, and/or mobile app integration.
Transportation Demand Management Strategies- Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies are partnerships with employers to help shape demand. They can come in a variety of formats, and include (but are not limited to) providing employees with transit fare credits, an emergency ride home program, and opportunities to minimize peak travel demands (flex work hours, telework).
The report, prepared by Dillon is set out in Enclosure II.
Industrial Transit Summit
In order to gain further insight into the transit needs of employers and employees in the industrial area, London Transit hosted an Industrial Transit Summit on May 15, 2018. All employers that completed the survey as well as representatives of job seekers, City Councillors, LEDC, Civic administration and other key stakeholders were invited to discuss the challenges that they are currently facing with respect to transit as well as review the alternative service delivery models set out below to determine which, if any service models would work to provide improved transit connections to industrial employment areas. Key findings that came out of the summit include:
- employers in industrial areas are willing to explore alternative delivery models to expand or introduce transit service to serve existing and future employees
- the current lack of Industrial service is a barrier to hiring
- many employers in attendance indicated a willingness to evaluate modifying shift times to better match with employers near them and/or transit service hours
- many employers in attendance indicated a willingness to further evaluate cost sharing opportunities in order to initiate transit service in their area
The summary of comments collected at the summit is set out in Enclosure III.
Existing Industrial Service
London Transit currently operates 43 conventional transit routes, including three routes classified as industrial service, Routes 30, 36 and 37. The first industrial route was Route 30, which began operating in September 1994 serving the Wilton Grove industrial area. Route 30 was the only industrial service until September 2006 when Routes 36 and 37 were introduced to serve the Airport and Sovereign Road areas respectively. All of the industrial service routes were introduced on a 30 minute frequency, operating during the weekday peak periods only.
Ridership growth on the industrial routes was slow and in 2012 only two of the three routes (30 and 36) were meeting the minimum revenue/cost ratio (R/C) of 50% recovery for peak period service. By 2014, Route 37 had increased ridership to meet the minimum revenue/cost recovery ratio for peak periods.
In 2015, London Transit undertook a complete Route Structure and Service Guidelines Review, which established new service performance standards based on boardings per revenue vehicle hour instead of minimum R/C ratios. The guidelines were approved by the Commission in April 2015. The new metric acknowledges that various services, even within the same route classification, will vary in their performance, with some exhibiting superior performance and others exhibiting lower performance levels. To meet the variety of system objectives, top-performing routes must be allowed to support other lower performing routes, while continuing to ensure that “class average” targets for each route classification meet system objectives and “route minimum” performance targets for each of the individual routes are met. The new daily service productivity target for industrial routes is a minimum of 15 boardings per revenue vehicle hour. This is the standard that will be used when assessing extending existing service or implementing new service in industrial areas.
Currently all three industrial services are meeting and/or exceeding minimum boardings per revenue vehicle hour for industrial areas and as a result service hour extensions have been added to Routes 30 and 36. Currently Route 30 operates during an extended weekday peak period and Route 36 operates during the weekday peak and base periods with two additional late evening trips to accommodate end of shift times.
Alternative Delivery Options
Based on the feedback received during the Industrial Summit three alternative service delivery models were selected to be assessed further for possible implementation in London, including, TransCab/Dial-a-Ride, Employment Shuttles and Industrial Trippers. These models allow for faster implementation to introduce or expand service in areas that may not initially meet the minimum ridership thresholds for regular fixed route services however, they do require a partnership with employers in the area.
TransCab/Dial-a-Ride – are very similar delivery models in which a third party delivers the service through a pre-arranged financial and operating agreement with the transit provider. Passengers are required to share a vehicle with other passengers as needed and the service generally operates between a transit hub and employment area within a defined geographical boundary. There are two main distinctions between the Dial-a-Ride and TransCab delivery models;
- Determination of the amount of service provided – In Dial-a-Ride , the transit agency specifies the applicable service parameters including how much service is to be provided, while in TransCab models, the taxi companies determine how much service to supply
- Vehicle Size – typically Dial-a-Ride can include larger, accessible vehicles while TransCab is generally limited to taxi cars or vans with limited accessibility
It is recommended that both options be assessed further to determine if one or a combination of both models may work in various industrial areas in London.
Employment Shuttles – As noted above, employment shuttles are another alternative model that warrants further assessment for possible implementation. This model is usually adopted in partnership with the employers, who will request pick-up and drop-off transit service for their workers during peak shift periods. The shuttles would service only employees of the partnering employers, picking them up at either pre-determined “stops” or at their homes, and dropping them off at the entrance to their place of employment (with the reverse trip being completed at the end of a shift). Employment or industrial shuttles do not run outside of the shift start and end-times and do not typically serve the general public.
This option will require further discussion with employers in the various industrial areas to determine the level of interest in partnering with London Transit to provide a service of this nature. Generally employment shuttles are run by the transit property; however, third party options will also be assessed.
Trippers – While London Transit does already operate tripper services, the existing trippers are generally utilized to supplement existing service that is experiencing overcrowding. Trippers in industrial areas would generally be focused on employee shift times and not necessarily an extension of existing routes. Should trippers be selected as a model option, they would be run by London Transit and not a third party contract; additional vehicles may be required to add the service for PM Peak shift times.
With all of the above alternative service delivery models, further assessment and discussion with industrial area employers is required to determine which model will be most effective in each area, noting further information will be required with respect to:
- number of employers in the area looking to participate in the pilot programs
- level of participation from employers (i.e. cost sharing, communications, etc.)
- shift times, and related travel times for employees in each area
- estimates of actual ridership from each industrial area
- proximity of industrial area to existing transit services
It should also be noted that although alternative models are currently being considered for the extension or introduction of service in industrial areas, this does not preclude regular, fixed route service from being introduced if and when the ridership meets and sustains minimum productivity thresholds. The extension of regular fixed route service into industrial areas will continue to be assessed as part of the annual service planning process.
Further analysis and discussion on the alternative models will be conducted in consultation with the key stakeholders to determine the most appropriate service model for each area as well as timing and cost estimates for possible implementation. The 2019 Draft Service Plan report, scheduled to be presented to the Commission in October 2018, will include consideration of alternative service delivery options for industrial areas.
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager