Staff Report #3
February 24, 2021
To All Commissioners
Re: 2020 Conventional Transit Service Performance Report
That the report be NOTED and FILED.
The 2019-2022 Business Plan, London Transit’s vision is: “The valued and trusted mobility choice for Londoners”. The vision is supported by the mission statement, “Moving Londoners – progressively, reliably and affordably”. The vision and mission statements give direction to five congruent and competing strategic outcomes, namely:
- 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
The year 2020 was significantly impacted by the declaration of a world-wide pandemic in March, the repercussions of which are still being felt to varying degrees across all sectors. In response to the pandemic declaration, organizations were forced to refocus and realign in order to ensure appropriate protections were in place for employees and customers, and that they continued to remain in compliance with all Provincial and local mandates regarding the pandemic. From the onset of the pandemic declaration, all levels of government made it clear that the continued delivery of public transit services was considered essential for communities to continue to function.
While the conventional service continued to operate throughout the pandemic period, the operating conditions were very different, some of which were the result of directives from the Province and public health, and some of which were the result of organizational decisions made as part of the Pandemic Response Plan. A number of the variances which had significant impacts on the service performance and key performance indicators include:
- Provision of essential trips only during the lockdown period which extended from March through June 2020, and again beginning in late December 2020;
- Elimination of fares given organizational decision to move to rear door boarding in an effort to provide greater physical distancing between bus operators and passengers for the period March 20, 2020 through August 19, 2020;
- Reduced demand for conventional service given lockdowns coupled with the post-secondary student population decline in need for transit given the shift to online learning;
- The commitment to monitor service daily and re-align tripper buses to routes that were experiencing crowding in an effort to provide for the ability for customers to physical distance while on board; and
- Reductions in service levels given reduced employee resource availability, noting the organizational decision to ensure that all areas of the City currently served by conventional transit would continue to be served, albeit in some cases at a reduced frequency;
As indicated above, the current Business Plan includes key performance indicators for each year, which have been historically relied upon to measure the service performance against budget, targets, and previous years. While the data required to continue to monitor and report on these indicators was gathered throughout the pandemic period, the operating environment was drastically different from what would be considered normal, and as such, many of the indicators are not considered reliable for 2020 in terms of measuring service performance against budget or previous years.
Notwithstanding these differences, the remainder of the report will provide the traditional year over year and actual to budget comparisons in the interest of transparency. Additional commentary will be provided with the indicators discussing the impacts of the pandemic.
Service performance is measured in terms of fiscal accountability (efficiency), service (effectiveness and quality), and communication (accuracy and quality of information provided).
Conventional Transit Service – Efficiency
The following table provides a summary of ridership and revenue service hours actual to budget performance for 2020 (unaudited).
2020 Ridership and Service Hours – Actual versus Budget
|Description||Actual||Budget||Percent Better (Worse)|
|Revenue service hours (millions)||0.596||0.671||(11.2)%|
|Rides per capita||30.6||58.4||(47.6)%|
|Rides per revenue service hour||21.3||36.1||(40.9)%|
|Service hours per capita||1.4||1.6||(11.2)%|
As indicated earlier in this report, given the significant operational impacts experienced for ten months of 2020, actual performance was well below what was budgeted. The rides per service hour statistic demonstrates the impact of leaving higher levels of service in place than ridership would have traditionally warranted, noting buses were approximately 41% less-full system-wide than what was budgeted. While this doesn’t bode well for the revenue recovery of the system, it helped ensure that physical distancing was possible for those customers who relied on public transit to get to and from essential work throughout the pandemic. Given this metric is based on a system-wide average, it is acknowledged that some bus routes continued to experience full loads, which were mitigated to the greatest extent possible through the addition of tripper buses where possible.
The following table provides comparisons in the various ridership and service hour measures over the past four years.
Ridership and Service Hour Comparisons – 2017 through 2020
|Description||2017||2018||2019||2020||% Change over Period|
|Revenue service hours (millions)||0.614||0.635||0.656||0.596||(3.0)%|
|Rides per capita||60.1||60.7||60.1||30.6||(49.1)%|
|Rides per revenue service hour||37.3||37.4||37.8||21.3||(42.9)%|
|Service hours per capita||1.6||1.7||1.6||1.4||(13.1)%|
As indicated earlier in this report, while there is no real value in attempting to compare 2020 to previous years, the numbers are provided for transparency purposes.
Conventional transit service customers have participated in numerous Voice of the Customer surveys over the past number of years, with the last one being in December 2018. In 2019 the Voice of the Customer survey was put on hold to revisit the timing of the survey in an effort to ensure the responses align with service improvements. The pandemic declaration in early 2020 resulted in the surveys being postponed for another year. One of the underlying rationale for conducting the Voice of the Customer survey is to reach out to customers who may not be inclined to contact customer service with a complaint or compliment. Further, it is a known fact that a customer is more likely to contact an organization when they have had a poor experience versus a good one. The Voice of the Customer allows customers to rate each area of service on their perception of how it meets their needs.
While it would be a fair assumption that customer priorities may have changed during the pandemic, most notably, the perception of adequate seating/space on the bus given the desire for physical distancing, it was not feasible to undertake a survey during the pandemic. The results of the last Voice of the Customer survey reflect the service in place until the fall of 2019, and are included throughout this report as a reference point to what expectations and perceptions were prior to the onset of the pandemic. This data will be a key consideration during the completion of the Rebuild phase of the Commission’s Pandemic Response Plan, noting it provides an indication of the state of the service, through the customer’s eye, prior to any pandemic related impacts.
Impressions of London Transit Service
This area of the Voice of the Customer survey measures satisfaction levels with LTC service including measures ranging from the convenience of the service to the cost of the service. The table below sets out the percent of survey respondents that agreed or strongly agreed with statements regarding the service for the 2018 survey.
Voice of the Customer Perceptions – 2018 Survey
|Bus routes are conveniently located||77%|
|There is enough seating on the bus||64%|
|The service operates at the times I need it||68%|
|The service operates on the days that I need it||83%|
|Bus gets me to destination in reasonable time||76%|
|Bus runs on time||49%|
In addition to the Voice of the Customer surveys, customer satisfaction levels with service performance are measured through tracking both the number and nature of customer contacts received via email, social media, and phone. When considering these numbers, it is important to recognize that not all contacts are investigated and as such, have not been confirmed as an accurate characterization of the event. Contacts that are serious in nature or those in which the customer requests a response are all investigated.
As set out in the following chart, service performance complaints expressed in terms of 100,000 riders had been trending downward since 2017. In 2020, the trend reversed, taking this measure back above the 2017 level. The charts below provide an overview of the total number of complaints and compliments as well as a breakdown of same by category which provides the opportunity for further analysis.
Customer Contacts – Service Performance
As important as the overall number of complaints received, is the nature of the complaints, all of which are analyzed to assess the impacts of the previous years’ service plan changes as well as to plan for future service changes. The table below sets out a breakdown of the number of service complaints over the four-year period by category, as well as a percentage change in each category over the period.
Total Service Performance Complaints by Category 2017-2020
|Complaints – Service||2017||2018||2019||2020||% Change|
|Missed passenger – drove by||303||324||370||320||6 %|
|Missed passenger – not at stop||374||375||341||241||(36)%|
|Per 100,000 riders||7.29||6.46||5.76||7.48||3 %|
While it is difficult to compare the numbers of complaints received in 2020 to previous years given the varying operating conditions relating to the pandemic, the total complaints per 100,000 riders provides a measure that can be compared. As indicated in the above table, while the total service performance complaints per rider had been steadily declining over the period 2017-2019, it jumped back up to pre-2017 levels in 2020. The possible reasons for the increase as well as the shift in complaint categories is discussed further below.
While the historic top category of complaints over the three-year period 2017-2019 was “late schedule”, complaints of this nature were reduced by almost 70% in 2020. The reduced vehicular traffic coupled with reduced ridership both played a significant role in buses being better able to remain on schedule throughout 2020. Conversely, “overcrowding” was the next-to-lowest complaint category in the years 2017-2019, but rose to 4th highest in 2020. This shift underscores the impact the physical distancing expectations of the public throughout the pandemic have changed perceptions regarding overcrowding. As the tables in the previous section indicated, the average rides per hour declined by almost 40% in 2020, meaning buses on average were significantly less full than previous years, but still riders complained about this at an increased rate.
The highest combined categories over the period are “missed passenger”, either “drove by” or “not at stop”. “Missed passenger drive by” and “missed passenger not at stop” are differentiated by the customer providing information as to whether or not they were at the physical stop at the time of the bus passing
The other factor that can impact service delivery is service interruptions stemming from vehicle breakdowns. The table below sets out the mean kilometers between service interruptions, further broken down between those requiring the bus to be changed off and returned to the garage and those that could be fixed on-route by the mobile mechanic. While both categories represent an inconvenience to customers and an interruption to service, those that can be addressed by the mobile mechanic on-route cause less of a disruption.
Mean KMs Between Service Interruptions – 2017-2020
|Mean kms between pull ins||5,403||5,359||5,810||6,774|
|Year over year change||7%||-1%||7%||8%|
|In-service repairs (mobile mechanic)||2,854||3,053||3,158||2,887|
|Mean kms between in-service repairs||4,398||4,223||4,241||4,347|
|Year over year change||-8%||-4%||2%||-1.7%|
In-service repairs (road service calls) and service pull-ins have a negative impact on the quality of customer service e.g. schedule adherence. Such events are inherent in public transit operations given such factors as weather and road conditions, the constant start/stop nature of the operation and the increased complexity and sensitivity associated with bus systems and related ancillary equipment (e.g. Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), electronic fare boxes, smart card equipment, etc.).
Service pull-ins, measured in terms of mean revenue kilometers between incidents has continued to improve over the four-year period. This category is the most disruptive of the two, as it requires customers to vacate the bus and transfer to a replacement bus. As such, efforts are made to identify the issues resulting in these instances, and equipping the mobile mechanic, where possible, to rectify these issues on road. This strategy is reflected in the increased number of in-service repairs over the three year period 2017-2019, with a slight dip in 2020. It is believed the trend toward increased in-service repairs will continue going forward, with 2020 being an anomaly given the reduced number of buses on the road for most of year as compared to previous years.
Impressions of Operator Performance
Another area of London Transit’s conventional service measured by the Voice of the Customer surveys covers Operator performance expectations. As set out in the table below, survey respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction with Operator performance. As the table also indicates, customers indicated their high level of confidence in LTC Operator’s knowledge of the system.
Voice of the Customer Perceptions
|The bus is well driven||89%|
|Bus drivers are helpful and courteous||79%|
|Bus drivers are knowledgeable about the transit system||86%|
Consistent with service related contacts, customer contacts (complaints and compliments) regarding Operator performance are also tracked and trended. Performance results for 2017 through 2020 with respect to Operator complaints are set out in the following table. When comparing the number of complaints from previous years, either in total or by category, it is important to remember that ridership and service levels have also fluctuated, most notably in 2020. The total complaints per 100,000 kilometers provides a normalized indication of the level of escalation in complaints year over year.
Total Operator Complaints by Category 2017-2020
|Complaints – Operator Performance||2017||2018||2019||2020||% Change|
|Drive through red light||35||27||45||21||(40)%|
|Not stopping at stop sign||7||17||16||17||143%|
|Yield to Bus||45||46||61||29||(36)%|
|Quality of Ride||66||53||54||34||(48)%|
|Splashed Pedestrian||5||10||10||5||0 %|
|Total Driving Related||559||667||688||415||(26)%|
|Missed stop requested||38||55||71||47||24 %|
|Total Service received||706||764||803||669||(5)%|
|Per 100,000 kilometres||10.08||11.12||11.08||8.64||(15)%|
As indicated in the table, in total, complaints in 2020 relating to Operator performance decreased over previous years, with the total operator complaints per 100,000 kilometres decreasing by 15% over the four year period.
Driving related Operator complaints declined by 26% over the four year period, with decline in virtually every category. The makeup of complaints per category remained consistent over the period, notwithstanding the differing operating conditions in 2020. While the number of complaints is not significant, the increase in “idling” complaints is attributed to the increased need for buses to sit at stops longer than normal in order to remain on schedule (not early). The reduced vehicular traffic combined with reduced ridership resulted in the need for operators to sit and wait at time points in order to ensure their bus did not get ahead of schedule.
Total complaints with respect to ‘service received from the Operator’ also decreased in 2020 to the lowest in the four-year horizon. The largest number of complaints in this category (representing approximately 88% of the total in 2020) relate to driver attitude and passenger treatment. Of note, in 2020, 172 of the 588 complaints in this category (approximately 30%), were classified as being directly related to the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, public health guidance changed, resulting in the need to frequently change programs and protocols for public transit services in order to ensure both operators and passengers remained as safe as possible. The combination of the unknowns relating to the virus and the frequent changes in procedures and protocols, including what was considered an essential trip, resulted in a heightened level of anxiety for both operators and customers, which in numerous cases, led to verbal exchanges that were reported to customer service (e.g. passenger screening at front door, staying behind yellow line, use of rear-door only, etc.).
In the case of complaints alleging a significant Operator performance issue, an investigation is completed, which can include any or all of the following; interview with the Operator and complainant, assessment of AVLC data, review of the bus’ audio/visual system (noting there is a strict protocol for accessing the system recordings). It should be noted that contacts received from customers are based on the customer’s perception of the incident, and are not always consistent with what actually occurred. In all situations, when requested, a response regarding the assessment is provided to the customer who filed the contact.
Operator performance compliments are also tracked and trended. In 2019, overall Operator performance compliments are the lowest over the four-year period with a decrease of 22% for same. The chart below sets out the trend in Operator compliments over the period of 2017 through 2020.
Total Operator Compliments by Category 2016-2019
|Operator Performance||2017||2018||2019||2020||% Change|
|Per 100,000 riders||1.18||1.09||0.87||1.91||62 %|
While the total number of compliments received over the four year period has remained somewhat consistent, the compliments per 100,000 riders in 2020 almost doubled that of previous years. Of the 240 compliments received in 2020, 112 were directly related to the pandemic, with customers expressing their gratitude for operators continuing to get them where they needed to be in a safe manner. These expressions of gratitude were shared with employees through postings on internal screens and quoted in the employee newsletter. These messages were well-received and appreciated by all LTC employees who continued to do their part in ensuring the service continued to operate.
Impressions of Service Safety
As set out earlier in this report, 89% of respondents of the 2018 Voice of the Customer feel that LTC vehicles are operated in a safe manner.
The tables below set out the total number of reports for each year for the period of 2017 through 2020.
Summary of Motor Vehicle Accidents – On Road 2017-2020
|Number of reports||291||359||369||293|
|Total per million km||24.4||27.9||27.5||23.3|
|Per 100,000 service hours||47.4||56.5||56.3||49.2|
|Mean km between reports||42,046||34,082||34,882||42,835|
|Year over year percent change||4%||(19)%||2%||18%|
Preventable motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) decreased by approximately 6% over the previous year, almost back to 2017 levels. The major categories for preventable MVAs continue to be striking fixed objects (lamp posts, parked cars, etc.) and sideswipes. As with customer contacts, fluctuations in total service hours year over year need to be taken into account when assessing trends with motor vehicle accidents. When looking at the total motor vehicle accidents per million kilometers travelled and per 100,000 service hours, both dropped significantly in 2020. This decline is believed to be, in part, related to the reduced vehicular traffic through the majority of 2020 when lockdowns were in place, and many continued to work from home versus commuting to the workplace. Additionally, given fluctuating employee resource availability throughout the pandemic, organization focus was directed at fast-tracking employee training whenever possible, and in 2020, all operators who were scheduled to receive their updated Defensive Driving Refresher Training by 2022 (training occurs every three years for all operators), participated in the refresher program.
Summary of Passenger Falls – 2017-2020
|Per million km||3.3||3.1||3.2||1.8|
|Year over year percent change||(22)%||(5)%||3%||(43)%|
Passenger falls also decreased significantly in 2020 as compared to previous years.
The nature and extent of accidents/incidents are reflective of a number of factors including:
- changing and severity of weather conditions;
- increased road congestion and issues of road condition; and
- heightened service and customer service expectations.
All passenger fall reports are reviewed, including, as warranted, accessing audio/visual system recordings to investigate the event, all of which is shared with the Commission’s adjuster and legal counsel. The management of accidents/incidents is critical to providing passengers with a safe trip as well as mitigating risk and liability. In terms of cost and risk, the vast majority of the reported accidents/incidents are minor in nature reflecting in part the broad definition of what constitutes an accident/incident. The reduction of vehicular traffic coupled with the fast-tracking of the Defensive Driver Refresher Training is also believed to have played a role in the decline in passenger fall incidents in 2020
Access to LTC Information
Customers and the public at large have a number of options to interact with London Transit. Those looking for dialogue, or some form of response, can use the customer service phone line or email. Given emails can be directed at any member of LTC administration, the total emails received and responded to are not tracked. Calls into the customer service department are tracked and trended against previous years’ experience. The table below sets out the total incoming calls to the customer service line in each of the years 2018 through 2020 (noting a new tracking system was established in 2018).
Summary of Customer Access – LTC Customer Service Line
|Information line – answered calls(1)||89,106||87,972||70,520||(20.2)%|
|Interactive voice response(2)||236,112||183,589||123,059||(47.9)%|
|Calls per million rides||0.014||0.011||0.015||11.8 %|
- Information Line statistics are for the hours of 6a.m. – 10p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30a.m. – 4:30p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays. Service information provided by staff is based upon real-time information. Staff also assists with trip planning and answers other common questions.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – IVR is a phone system that utilizes voice recognition technology to assist customers with providing real-time information by stop for conventional transit.
As indicated in the table, the total calls to both the information line and the interactive voice response declined in 2020 however, the calls per million rides indicates that the level of calls as a ratio of ridership remained consistent, rising slightly in 2020. What this table clearly demonstrates is that even throughout the pandemic, customers continued to rely on the customer service line and interactive voice at approximately the same rate as prior years.
Customers and the public at large can also look to the LTC website for information about the service in general, or specifically to the Infoweb real-time for next bus information. In addition, a corporate Facebook page, which was established in late 2018, is maintained that provides news and updates relating to service.
In addition to the more-static information pages discussed above, a corporate Twitter account is utilized to provide updates with respect to service as well as to draw attention to specific information contained on the corporate website. In 2019, the time-stamped tweets, which were issued several times a day and were specific to service performance, were very popular as they provided followers with a quick update prior to beginning their morning commute or embarking on their commute home later in the day. As discussed earlier in this report, on-time performance and service interruptions that would normally be experienced were not an issue given the pandemic-related shut downs and reduced traffic. As such, these tweets were suspended, and replaced with tweets specific to the pandemic and expectations of the public while utilizing public transit.
The table below sets out a summary of the visits to the LTC website, Infoweb real-time, corporate Facebook page and the total Twitter impressions from the corporate Twitter account for the years 2019 and 2020.
Summary of Customer Access – LTC Website
|Website – main site visits(1) (millions)||1.647||1.024||(37.8)%|
|Website – Infoweb real-time(1) (millions)||0.518||0.324||(37.5)%|
|Facebook visits||0.072||0.151||109.7 %|
|Site visits per million rides||0.151||0.195||116.0 %|
- The numbers included in these items are based on Google Analytics, which measures sessions vs visits. A session is defined as the amount of time a user is actively engaged with the site, and all usage within that engagement is measured as one session.
- Twitter impressions represent a total of all the times Tweets originating from the corporate Twitter account have been seen. This includes times it appears in followers’ timelines, searches, or when a Tweet is liked.
Consistent with the calls to the information line, website visits, although down in number, have increased in terms of visits per million rides, indicating the continued reliance on this source of information for riders throughout the pandemic. The increase in the visits per rider could also be attributable to the approach of providing links to the website in corporate Tweets, which is discussed more thoroughly in the following section.
The following table provides an overview of the makeup of the various methods that customers and the public can utilize to find information with respect to public transit services. It should be noted that some information is limited to only one source (e.g. Commission agendas limited to corporate website), and as such, the addition of alternative methods of interaction may not directly impact others. The table below sets out the percent make-up of the various methods of interaction between LTC and the public at large.
Percent Make Up of Interaction Methods
|Percent Make Up||2018||2019||2020|
|Information line – answered calls||3.6%||2.2%||2.7%|
|Interactive voice response||9.5%||4.6%||4.6%|
|Website – main site visits||68.3%||41.4%||38.3%|
|Website – Infoweb real-time||18.6%||13.0%||12.1%|
|Facebook page visits||0.0%||1.8%||5.6%|
The use of the LTC website and Twitter represent the majority of customer interactions with London Transit in 2019 and 2020, noting Twitter and Facebook were not in place for the full year in 2018. Google Transit trip planning and real-time information are also widely utilized; however, Google does not share visitor statistics with participating transit properties, so these numbers are not included in the above table.
In addition to the above access points, the LTC currently provides approximately 50,000 ride guides. In 2020, the distribution of route schedules on board buses and at facilities was placed on hold in an effort to limit the passing of paper that had been touched by multiple parities. Route schedules remain available on the LTC website in a printable format for those wishing a hard copy. Given the limited negative feedback with respect to this change, the permanent removal of paper schedules from buses and facilities is under consideration.
As evident in this report, a key aspect in the development of the 2019-2022 Business Plan is to ensure all decisions with respect to service are viewed through the eye of the customer. This can be achieved in many ways as illustrated throughout this report, however additional methods need to continue to be explored. The “pop-up” public engagement sessions utilized in 2018 and 2019 provided valuable insight to the planning department during the annual service planning processes.
An initiative on the 2020 Work Program called for the assessment of opportunities to increase interactions with the public, however was deferred to 2021 given the declaration of the pandemic and the related discouragement of the traditional manners of engagement. Notwithstanding the deferral of the initiative, the 2020 service planning process was adjusted to provide the opportunity for customers to arrange for a telephone discussion with a planner to discuss proposed changes in place of the traditional “drop-in” sessions that are held. The assessment of opportunities has been included on the 2021 Work Program, and will be subject to the status of the pandemic.
Additionally, feedback received in 2020 through the various methods discussed in this report will be utilized as the third section of the Pandemic Response Plan is drafted. While the focus in 2020 and early 2021 have been on the Resolve and Resiliency phases of the pandemic response, focus is turning toward the Rebuild phase, which will look to implement measures designed to attract customers back to public transit as the pandemic restrictions are lifted and the economy begins to return to normal. The Commission put in place a significant component of the Rebuild phase at the January 27, 2020 meeting when the 2021 Conventional Service Plan was approved subject to approval of the Assessment Growth Business Case by Municipal Council. The 2021 Service Plan addresses a long-standing issue with the service, that will have a positive effect on the system at large, that being the elimination of all 60 minute frequencies throughout the system. This plan will see these 60 minute frequencies replaced with more frequent frequencies. Initiatives of this nature, will result in a more convenient transit system, which has the potential to attract riders back post-pandemic as well as attract new riders to the system.
Lisa Hughes, Manager of Operations Administration
Caroline Roy, Manager of Corporate Communications
Patrick Cormier, Manager of Information Systems
Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations
Craig Morneau, Director of Fleet & Facilities
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager