Staff Report #2
April 28, 2021
To All Commissioners
Re: 2020 Draft Annual Report
That the Commission:
- APPROVE the Draft 2020 Annual Report, attached as Enclosure I; and
- DIRECT the administration forward the approved 2020 Annual Report to Municipal Council for its review and consideration.
The Draft 2020 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.
The declaration of the pandemic in March of 2020 presented challenges that were not anticipated at the time of the Business Plan approval nor the 2020 budget development and approval process. Very early in the pandemic, all levels of government made clear their shared view that the continued provision of public transit services was essential to communities as they navigated their way forward. While transit system providers agreed with this viewpoint, it became clear very quickly that operating during a pandemic would require system providers to essentially disregard the traditional metrics used to measure and balance system performance with service levels to meet the system efficiencies built into budgets.
A number of decisions were made early in the pandemic period which shifted focus of the operation from the priorities included in the Business Plan to ensuring both the conventional and specialized services would continue to operate in a manner that was safe for both employees and riders. Some of these decisions resulted in significant impacts on the traditional metrics utilized to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the transit services, including:
- the move to rear-door boarding in order to ensure distance was maintained between bus operators and riders which resulted in fare collection being suspended for the period March through August;
- the decision to leave conventional service levels at the highest possible based on resource availability notwithstanding significant declines in ridership in an effort to provide less crowding on buses;
- ensuring that when conventional transit service levels needed to be reduced, it was done so in a manner to ensure that no area of the city was left without access to transit;
- the introduction of nightly disinfection of all buses in the fleet prior to next day service;
- the decision to limit capacity on specialized service vehicles to a maximum of 2 riders at any one time in order to ensure distancing;
- the decision to leave specialized service levels in place such that all trip requests could be accommodated, including those made on the day of the trip; and
- the modification of policies to provide employees with the ability to request leaves of absence, or move vacation to accommodate those with pandemic-related impacts out of their control
All of these decisions affected the traditional measures that are included in the remainder of this report; however, the metrics are still reported with explanation for transparency purposes. Additionally, they resulted in a significant budget deficit that had no identified source of funding. Advocacy efforts of the Ontario Public Transit Association and the Canadian Urban Transit Association resulted in the creation of the Safe Restart Funding program, which is jointly supported by the Provincial and Federal governments to cover the budget-related impacts associated with operating during the pandemic. This funding was critical as it provided the ability to balance the 2020 budget as well as assurances that funding would continue to be available for 2021 to ensure service could continue to operate and have the ongoing pandemic-related impacts covered.
The table below sets out the performance against the outcomes for the 2020 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||Good||The continuation of public transit services throughout the pandemic ensured Londoners had access to essential jobs and destinations.|
|Demonstrated fiscal accountability||Good||Overall effective cost management notwithstanding the service impacts of the pandemic.|
|Being open, transparent and understood||Good||Continued use of social media for outside stakeholders during the pandemic and increased efforts to communicate pandemic related information to employees.|
|Effective utilization of infrastructure||Good||Capital programs for the most part continued notwithstanding the pandemic.|
|An engaged, diverse and respectful workplace||Good||Finalization of the custom Resiliency Training program to all employees and continued work by the Expect Respect Working Group.|
While progress toward all of the Strategic Outcomes is graded as ‘good’, it is important to recognize these grades are measured against progress on the initiatives included in the Business Plan and operating a transit system through a pandemic necessitated deviation from these initiatives.
The development and reliance on the Pandemic Response Plan in 2020 was critical to successfully operating through the various stages of lock-down and other public health measures. Most of 2020 was focused on the Response phase of the plan, with policies, protocols and service decisions being made or adjusted on a regular basis. It is anticipated that the second half of 2021 will be focused on the Resiliency phase of the plan, which calls for revisiting the each of the decisions made in 2020 to determine whether they remain applicable or require adjustment. Finally, it is hoped that 2022 will see the Rebuilding Phase of the Plan set in motion. Approval of the service growth initiatives for 2021 will be a very good start to the rebuild, noting the improvements are targeted at improving service frequencies system wide, resulting in a conventional service that will be a more viable option for more Londoners.
Finally, every London Transit employee needs to be commended for their dedication and commitment to ensuring public transit services continued to operate throughout the pandemic without interruption.
Responding to evolving public health guidance, new policies and procedures to protect employee health and safety, and dealing with the pandemic implications that impacted personal lives were all challenges that were met head on with the entire London Transit team.
Subsequent to Commission approval of the Draft Annual Report, the transmittal letter will be drafted by the Commission Chair and the report will be finalized for distribution to LTC stakeholders and presentation to Municipal Council.
Mike Gregor, Director of Finance
Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations
Joanne Galloway, Director of Human Resources
Craig Morneau, Director of Fleet & Facilities
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager