Staff Report #3 – 2023 Work Program – Planning – Third Quarter Update

Staff Report #3

October 25, 2023

To All Commissioners

Re: 2023 Work Program – Planning – Third Quarter Update


The report be NOTED and FILED.


The following report is provided as an update on major Planning projects as set out in the 2023 Work Program that are ongoing in nature and/or were scheduled to commence and/or be completed over the first nine months of 2023, with the lead on same being the primary responsibility of the Planning department.

1.1 a) and b) – 2021 and 2022 Conventional Service Plan Implementation

As set out in Staff Report #6 dated August 30, 2023, implementation of the previously approved 2021 and 2022 service plans continued with service changes being implemented in April, June and September 2023. To date approximately 27,000 hours of the approved 36,000 hours have been implemented.

Currently, there are 9,000 hours of outstanding service improvements from 2021 and 2022 to be implemented. In February 2024, service changes will be made to Route 25 during the AM Peak and early evening periods to improve frequency from 30 minutes to 20 minutes. These changes are anticipated to improve the current crowding conditions being experienced on the route during these time periods. This will leave approximately 5,000 service hours that are still outstanding. As the remaining service changes are during the PM Peak period, additional buses are required in order for the changes to be implemented, and as set out in Staff Report #4 – dated October 25, 2023, given ongoing resource issues, it is not currently deemed possible to ensure these buses would be available for service each day. Administration will continue to monitor this situation noting the intent is to implement the remaining service improvements as soon as possible.

Service Monitoring

Ongoing operational challenges with crowding and schedule adherence are being experienced on a daily basis and as such the Planning department has been assessing options to make changes to service to address these issues, albeit without the ability to increase the number of peak period vehicles in operation. Assessments included a review of all routes in an effort to identify any routes with high frequency that had runs that were under-utilized; noting should this be the case, there would be opportunity to reallocate resources to other routes. As shown in Figure I, ridership increases over September 2022 levels are occurring system-wide, and as such, reallocating resources from one route to another will just move and potentially exacerbate the issue.

Figure I – 2022 September Ridership Overlaid on September 20232022 September Ridership Overlaid on September 2023 image with a base map of London Ontario.

As part of the current Five Year Service Plan, minimum ridership targets by revenue service hour as well as triggers to consider increases in frequency were established. The minimum ridership targets as well as the thresholds requiring additional frequency vary by route classification. As set out in the tables below, virtually all route categories are at a point that frequency increases are warranted based on the set triggers in the service planning guidelines.

Revenue Service Hour Boarding Minimums and Triggers by Route Type and Service Day

Weekday Saturday Sunday
Express Routes Day Evening All Day All Day
Minimum Productivity Targets 30 30 30 30
Productivity Trigger for Service Improvement 40 40 40 40
Base Arterial Routes
Minimum Productivity Targets 50 30 30 20
Productivity Trigger for Service Improvement 75 50 50 30
Minor Arterial Routes
Minimum Productivity Targets 25 20 30 15
Productivity Trigger for Service Improvement 45 30 30 25
Local Routes
Minimum Productivity Targets 20 15 15 15
Productivity Trigger for Service Improvement 40 25 25 20
Industrial Routes
Minimum Productivity Targets 15 15 N/A N/A
Productivity Trigger for Service Improvement 25 20 N/A N/A

September 2023 Weekday Revenue Service Hour Boardings by Route Category

Weekday Morning Peak Base Afternoon Peak Early Evening Late Evening
Express Routes 32.6 51.7 53.5 38.3 16.3
Base Arterial Routes 36.5 53.1 55.1 44.0 22.6
Minor Arterial Routes 31.9 39.8 45.9 34.9 15.8
Local Routes 32.4 41.2 45.2 31.3 14.2
Industrial Routes 27.0 15.9 30.8 3.4 0.0

September 2023 Saturday Revenue Service Hour Boardings by Route Category

Saturday Early Morning Morning Peak Base Early Evening Late Evening
Express Routes 7.5 22.3 52.1 40.9 23.5
Base Arterial Routes 18.8 31.5 50.3 48.4 27.3
Minor Arterial Routes 13.3 24.6 39.2 36.7 18.9
Local Routes 13.1 24.8 38.1 35.6 20.3

September 2023 Sunday Revenue Service Hour Boardings by Route Category

Sunday Early Morning Morning Peak Base Late Evening
Express Routes 11.0 36.2 53.6 32.9
Base Arterial Routes 28.9 40.0 51.8 37.6
Minor Arterial Routes 16.5 30.6 39.1 26.0
Local Routes 18.7 31.0 36.4 25.9
Below the minimum boardings per revenue vehicle hour
At or above the minimum boardings per revenue vehicle hour
At or above the trigger requiring a review for the additional of frequency

As illustrated in the map and tables above, reallocating resources at this time is not an option to address crowding concerns or schedule adherence issues. Planning also assessed the option of realigning buses along a route to try to smooth out the loads across all buses. Through the assessment, this option was also determined to not be feasible at this time as adjusting the schedules, especially on the longer routes, could have negative impacts on existing transfer connections and in turn, potentially result in moving the heaviest crowding to another run on the route.

Tripper buses will continue to be utilized to provide additional capacity on the system as resources allow. Work will continue to implement the outstanding service improvements as soon as operationally feasible.

Planning staff recently attended an Ontario Public Transit Association meeting of transit planning staff from across the province where responding to increased ridership demands with limited resources was one of the agenda topics. Unfortunately, most Ontario systems are experiencing the same difficulties with respect to labour and supply chain issues, resulting in difficulties responding to the growing demand. Of interest, a number of transit systems indicated that travel patterns for post-secondary student populations had significantly shifted, with more students living further from campus in an effort to reduce their housing costs. A review of the London map set out earlier in this report indicates a similar issue, with growth being experienced in many of the peripheral areas of the city, where route frequencies tend to be lower. Responding to this shift requires increased frequencies, which requires additional buses. As set out in Staff Report #4, dated October 25, 2023, bus deliveries have become problematic, noting there is still not an estimated delivery date for the expansion buses ordered in June. Should these buses not be delivered by the fall of 2024, service improvements will be limited to those that can be undertaken without the need for additional buses (off-peak).

2.5- Five-Year Service Plan- Conventional Service

2024 marks the final year of the Five-Year Service Plan (2020-2024). As a result of service plan deferrals related to the pandemic as well as changing priorities, a number of recommended service changes are still outstanding from the Five Year Plan. The upcoming Draft 2024 Service Plan will review the outstanding items to determine if they are still warranted at this time and will also give consideration to the projected availability of expansion buses for a September service improvement implementation. Outstanding recommendations that are not included as part of the Draft 2024 Service Plan will be reconsidered during the evaluation process for service changes to be included in the next five year plan (2025-2029). The 2024 Draft Service Plan will be tabled at the November 29, 2023 meeting.

Recommended by:

Katie Burns, Director of Planning

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager