Staff Report #4 – 2023 Work Program – Fleet & Facilities – Third Quarter Update

Staff Report #4

October 25, 2023

To All Commissioners

Re: 2023 Work Program – Fleet & Facilities – Third Quarter Update


The report be NOTED and FILED.


The following report is provided as an update on major projects as set out in the 2023 Work Program that are ongoing in nature and were scheduled to commence and/or to be completed in the third quarter, with the lead on same being the primary responsibility of Fleet & Facilities.

12.1 – Bus Replacement/Expansion Program

The 2023 replacement bus order, originally scheduled to begin delivery in June, has been delayed further, with an updated delivery date for the first two buses in late December and the remaining buses delivered in the first quarter of 2024. This delay will result in additional pressure on Fleet and Facilities resources at a time when ensuring the number of buses required for service each day are available represents a significant challenge. While Fleet and Facilities employees have done an exemplary job in meeting service requirements daily since the service changes in September, the capacity of the resources available has been maximized on this goal alone. Removing available resources from this resource pool to work on the required preparation of the replacement buses, noting each bus requires approximately 60 labour hours of work prior to being placed into service, will place additional pressure on the team.

In addition to the employee resource challenges, buses that were scheduled to be retired in June through August of 2023 are now having to be maintained until the end of the first quarter of 2024 at a minimum, which will place increased pressure on operating budgets. Given the need for as many buses as possible for service, buses requiring costly repairs that would historically have been parked until retirement are being repaired. Administration will continue to review and carefully consider these decisions balancing the need for buses with the costs associated with keeping a bus in service for a short period of time.

In consideration of the aforementioned issues, coupled with the continued vacancies in the 310T Mechanic complement, the decision to defer the February service improvements that would require additional daily buses for service was made.

The 10 expansion buses the Commission approved the purchase of in June of 2023 have not yet been assigned a delivery date. These buses will be required in order to add any peak period service improvements in 2024, and as such, should they not be delivered in time to be prepped and placed in service by September 1, 2024 service improvements may be delayed. Administration continues to work with New Flyer in an effort to remain apprised of ongoing issues impacting delivery schedules.

12.2 – Facility Upgrades – Highbury & Wonderland Facilities

The upgrades included in the 2023 capital program relate to both facilities. Projects included in the Facility Upgrade Capital program are intended to ensure the facilities are maintained in a state of good repair as well as to address any issues identified by the Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

Projects that were completed in the third quarter include:

  • Interior painting of both facilities
  • Additional landscape work around the 450 Highbury property
  • Hydro panel upgrade for the Paint shop at the Highbury facility
  • Lighting upgrades for the ticket office
  • HVAC ceiling fan installed at Wonderland facility
  • Parking gate replacement at Wonderland facility
  • Interior flooring replacement at Wonderland facility
  • Bathroom renovation garage area Highbury facility

The remainder of the 2023 projects include:

  • Ongoing carpet installs at Highbury facility
  • Replacement of MSA gas panel at Wonderland facility
  • Overhead fan installation Wonderland facility

12.3 – Shop and Garage Equipment Upgrades

Projects included in the Shop/Garage Equipment program which have been completed include:

  • Replacement of cameras around the facility that were no longer functional.
  • Ongoing replacement of tool and toolboxes for 310T Mechanics at both facilities.

12.4 – Service Fleet Replacement Program

One new Inspector van has been purchased and is in the process of being retrofitted with the appropriate hardware. It is anticipated this van will be in service by the end of October.

The following provides updates on programs/initiatives not explicitly identified in the annual work program.

Vacancy Management

As set out in Staff Report #5 dated October 25, 2023, there have been ongoing challenges filling vacant 310T mechanic positions. The Human Resources department has undertaken a number of strategies and initiatives in an effort to fill the five current vacancies; however, the ongoing shortage of 310T mechanics continues to be an issue both at London Transit and across the Province.

In an effort to mitigate the impacts of these vacancies on the ability to meet daily bus requirements, a number of initiatives (in some cases with the joint agreement of the ATU Local 741) have been established, including but not limited to the following:

  • In early 2023, General Service employees were tasked with completing (where legislatively able) those job tasks that historically were completed by 310T mechanics, such as completing pm-services. These changes have alleviated some of the pressure from the Mechanic group.
  • A third-party contractor is undertaking monthly MTO inspections and related work stemming from same. While this has relieved some of the workload pressure, it requires buses to be offsite for a number of days while this work is performed, placing further pressure on fleet availability.
  • There are increased overtime opportunities for 310T Mechanics and General Service positions before and after their shifts and off days while ensuring all requisite legislative requirements.
  • A part-time casual (retired 310T Mechanic) was brought back to assist in workload issues. Their knowledge and skill level have proven to be an asset in this role.
  • Two 310T Mechanic Apprentices (one internal and one external) have been hired. The internal apprentice needs to complete schooling and mandatory hours before becoming fully licensed. The incumbent will need to have time off to attend schooling in order to complete the requisite courses. While this position currently has limited impact on the workload issues, it allows an existing employee to transition to a fully licensed 310T Mechanic. The external hire was brought on with their schooling completed and only requires the completion of their mandatory hours before writing their final exam. Both of these employees can complete the tasks of a licensed mechanic; however, the work needs to be checked and signed off by a licensed 310T Mechanic prior to being finalized. While the requirement to check the work of others places additional pressure on the licensed mechanics on staff, the work that the apprentices have been able to do has resulted in an overall positive impact on the workload pressures of the group.
  • Due to the success of the above 310T Mechanic Apprentice program, Human Resources is currently recruiting for an additional two external 310T Mechanic Apprentices who have completed a majority of their schooling and one internal hire, pending budget approval.

Ministry of Transportation Regulatory Amendments

A standing item on the annual Work Program is the monitoring and compliance with all Ministry of Transportation (MTO) regulations and amendments. The MTO has changed their emission requirement to now be all online. This practice started last year and has been very successful for both garages. The move of the Motor Vehicle Inspection program to online remains outstanding with no firm transition date known at this time.

Recommended by:

Craig Morneau, Director of Fleet & Facilities

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager