Staff Report #4 – 2020 Specialized Transit Service Performance Report

Staff Report #4

February 24, 2021

To All Commissioners

Re: 2020 Specialized 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

Service performance is measured in terms of fiscal accountability (efficiency), service (effectiveness and quality), and communication (accuracy and quality of information provided).

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 clear that the continued delivery of public transit services was essential for communities to continue to function.

While the specialized service continued to operate throughout the pandemic period, the operating conditions were very different, some of which was the result of directives from the Province and public health, and some of which was 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 of 2020, and again beginning December 26;
  • Elimination of fares given organizational decision to move to rear door boarding on conventional service and need to ensure fare parity between the conventional and specialized services;
  • Reduced demand for specialized service given lockdowns coupled with the demographic of the specialized service ridership; and
  • Organizational decision to leave enough service in place to ensure that all essential trip requests could be met, and all could be delivered with a maximum of two passengers on board in order to ensure physical distancing;

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. In addition, direct comparison to year over year performance is also not considered a true indication of service performance.

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.

Specialized Transit Service – Efficiency

The following table provides a summary of ridership and revenue service hours actual to budget performance for 2020 (unaudited). Actual ridership and service provided, as well as the related measures varied significantly from budget.

2020 Ridership and Service Hours – Actual versus Budget (unaudited)

Description Actual Budget Amount Better (Worse) Percent Better (Worse)
Revenue service hours (000’s) 129.9 154.4 (24.5) (15.9) %
Ridership ( 000’s) 157.1 363.7 (206.6) (56.8) %
Rides per revenue service hour 1.2 2.4 (1.1) (48.7) %

As indicated earlier in this report, an organizational decision was made to ensure adequate service remained in place to ensure all trip requests could be accommodated with a maximum of two riders on the vehicle at any one time. This approach explains why the reduction in revenue service hours does not directly correlate to reduced ridership. This is best explained by looking at the rides per revenue service hour statistic, where the budget called for 2.4 rides for every service hour, and the actual performance, given the revised operating conditions, resulted in approximately half of that at 1.2 rides per service hour.

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 (000’s) 134.8 145.2 147.1 129.9 (3.6)%
Ridership (000’s) 306.1 329.4 333.4 157.1 (48.7)%
Rides per revenue service hour 2.3 2.3 2.3 1.2 (47.8)%
Registrants 8,215 8,990 10,691 11,026 34.2 %

Customer Satisfaction

Specialized service customers participated in the Voice of the Customer survey process for the first time in 2018. The table below sets out the customer perceptions of the specialized service as collected in the survey. 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. Both sets of data are critical in ensuring that the perspective of the customers is at the forefront of decision making.

The table below sets out the percent of survey respondents that agreed or strongly agreed with statements regarding the service.

Voice of the Customer Perceptions – 2018 Survey

Service Statement 2018
Trips available at the time needed 72%
Vehicles arrive within 30 minute window 84%
Time on vehicle is reasonable 88%
Vehicles are clean 96%
Vehicles are comfortable 88%
Vehicle lifts are in good working order 99%
Drivers safely secure my mobility device 96%

It is important to recognize this survey was completed in late 2018, and as such, could be considered to also apply to 2019. Given the ongoing pandemic, a Voice of the Customer survey was not undertaken in 2020.

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, cannot all be confirmed as accurate. Contacts that are serious in nature or those in which the customer requests a response are all investigated.

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
Accessibility  2 7 6 5 150%
Early Schedule  5  2 6 5 0%
Late Schedule  13  22 10 3 (77)%
Missed Passenger  10 10 12 7 (30)%
No Show  57 58 57 18 (68)%
Routing 12 6 3 1 (92)%
Service received 136 153 98 54 (60)%
Trip Availability 16 10 22 5 (69)%
Warning Letter Response 12 1 2
Total 251 280 215 100 (60)%
 Per 1,000 riders  0.82  0.85 0.65 0.64 (22)%

Consistent with the reporting above, the total number of service performance complaints by category are set out in the table above for transparency purposes. While direct number comparisons to previous years is problematic, the total complaints per 1,000 riders provides a better comparison. As the table indicates, the total complaints per 1,000 riders declined slightly in 2020 to be the lowest it has been over the four year period. While on the surface, this can be viewed as a positive trend, the overall decline is likely tied to the organizational decision to carry a maximum of two customers per vehicle, which resulted in a direct trip for most customers, eliminating or greatly reducing the chances of early/late service.

The top category of complaints over the period has remained “service received”, which includes issues such as length of trip, drop off locations, pick up locations, as well as other complaints that may encompass more than one of the categories listed in the table above. The complaints in this category declined at approximately the same rate as other categories in 2020; however the details of complaints in this category in 2020 were predominantly related to the pandemic, and issues customers had with the manner in which the service was being delivered in light of it (e.g. driver not wearing mask, driver conducting COVID screening prior to boarding, etc.).

Impressions of Driver Performance

Another area of the specialized service measured by the Voice of the Customer surveys from 2018 covers Driver performance expectations. As set out in the table below, survey respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction with Driver performance.

Voice of the Customer Perceptions

Service Statement 2018
The drivers are friendly 93%
The drivers are helpful 93%
The drivers operate the vehicle safely 93%

Consistent with service related contacts, customer contacts (complaints and compliments) regarding Driver performance are also tracked and trended. Performance results for 2017 through 2020 with respect to Driver complaints are set out in the following table.

Total Operator Complaints by Category 2017-2020

Complaints – Operator Performance 2017 2018 2019 2020 % Change
Driving Unsafe 21 30 21 12 (43)%
Attitude/Treatment 75 103 89 90 20 %
Total 96 133 110 102  6 %
Per 1,000 riders 0.3  0.4 0.3 0.6 100 %

Of note in the table above, the number of Operator complaints remained relatively consistent with previous years, notwithstanding the significant reduction in ridership. Further analysis of the 2020 complaints revealed that a significant number were related to the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, public health guidance changed, resulting in the need to frequently change programs and protocols on 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 and classified in the attitude/treatment category. In the case of complaints alleging a significant Driver performance issue, all information is forwarded to the contractor for investigation and follow-up. All contacts received relating to the specialized service are followed up on by administration.

The chart below sets out the trend in Operator compliments over the period of 2017 through 2020.

Total Operator Compliments by Category 2017-2019

Compliments – Operator Performance 2017 2018 2019 2020 % Change
Driving 1 0 0 0 (100.0)%
Attitude/Treatment 14 18 29 7 (50.0)%
Total 15 18 29 7 (53.3)%
Per 1,000 riders 0.05 0.05 0.08 0.04 (10.9)%

As the chart above indicates, operator compliments received for the specialized service are limited, which underscores the value of the Voice of the Customer surveys as an alternative way to gather customer perspectives with respect to the service being provided. As set out earlier in the report, 93% of survey responded indicated their satisfaction with specialized service operators. The decline in 2020 compliments is likely due to the same factors set out above that impacted the operator complaint categories.

Going Forward

This report will be shared with the Accessible Public Transit Service Advisory Committee as input into discussions relating to priorities for future years, noting given the ongoing second wave of the pandemic, operating conditions may remain static for some time. The details of this report will also be utilized in the drafting of the third phase of the Pandemic Response Plan, which is the Rebuilding phase, noting insights gained through analysis of the customer contacts and key performance indicators will help determine what will be required to restore ridership and service efficiencies to more historic levels.

Recommended by:

Brandon Goldstone, Manager of Service Integration

Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager