Staff Report #4
January 26, 2022
To All Commissioners
Re: COVID-19 Service Impacts
The report be NOTED and FILED.
At the November 24, 2021 meeting, the Commission was provided an update with respect to the various COVID-related impacts on the conventional transit service. This report serves as an update on the issues that continue to impact service delivery on both the conventional and specialized services.
Conventional Transit Service
Current Pandemic Wave Impacts
In late December, employees who were able began working from home; and masking and eye protection protocols at all times in the workplace were reinstated. Notwithstanding these steps, the onset of the current pandemic wave, fueled by a much more contagious variant resulted in increased levels of absenteeism across the organization. Over the period of early December through late January approximately 15% of the workforce had been impacted by COVID, either self-isolating due to a close contact or symptoms, testing positive for COVID, or experiencing childcare issues resulting from school/daycare closures. Fortunately, the lost time was spread over the period and across departments such that significant service disruptions have been avoided thus far.
As set out in Staff Report #3, dated January 26, 2022, the cessation of Routes 102, 104 and 106 on weekdays and 90 and 91 on weekends provided the flexibility required to address the short-term absences noted above while continuing to maintain service for the most part. On a number of occasions during this period, individual runs were cancelled due to resource limitations; however every effort was made to ensure this did not occur on the last runs, or on corridors with already low frequencies.
Notwithstanding the toll the past 22 months has taken on everyone, LTC employees across the organization have continued to demonstrate their resilience and commitment to providing public transit services, with many agreeing to work overtime, covering for an absent co-workers, or taking on additional duties temporarily to ensure the service continues to operate.
Operator Resource Requirements
Work continues with respect to the onboarding of Operators in an effort to reach the required complement level to return to full service levels and implement the 2021 service improvements. In order to implement the full slate of 2021 improvements, an Operator complement of 436 is required. A class of five Operators is currently in training and will be available for service at the end of January, which will put the Operator complement at 429. Should the plan to host three more classes of six Operators each in February, March, and April hold up, coupled with the planned retirements that are currently known, the required complement will be reached with the graduation of the April class (early May). The class beginning in early February is full with six applicants accepting offers and interviews are underway for the March and April classes.
Supply Chain Issues
Over the past number of months, supply chain issues have, to varying extents, impacted the ability to service and maintain the conventional fleet.
At time of report writing, there were 17 buses that are not available for service as the parts required are outstanding, noting in some cases, suppliers are indicating a delivery date of 16 weeks out from date of order.
In addition to a general parts shortage, there is a severe supply chain issue occurring with batteries/smart ride systems across Canada, noting most suppliers are indicating delivery dates of June 2022. Administration is currently assessing options to mitigate any significant impacts on service relating to this shortage, with options including swapping batteries from a bus that is down for other service or reverting to an older technology battery (which is only possible in a portion of the fleet).
Finally, there is also a supply issue with Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) supply from the OEM (Cummins). Use of the OEM provided filter is required to ensure that warranty provisions continue to apply, noting the OEM has confirmed that notwithstanding current supply issues, use of an alternate filter will void the warranty. Administration is working with the OEM in an effort to fast-track shipment of the required filters, as well as weighing the potential impacts of using an alternate filter in order to keep buses in service against the costs of voiding warranty.
One positive development subsequent to the last update report is the rectification of the tire supply issue that was occurring in late 2021. Shipments of tires have resumed on a regular schedule and are no longer impacting the ability to maintain buses for service.
Specialized Transit Service
The contractor for the specialist service drivers and vehicles (Voyago) has had similar experiences with respect to the impacts of the most recent pandemic wave and related employee lost time. On a number of occasions, runs have been cancelled due to lack of resources; however, given the relatively low ridership and demand for the service, pre-booked rides have been able to be accommodated by moving trips around to other vehicles that remained in operation.
Administration will continue to provide regular updates on the aforementioned issues as appropriate.
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Joanne Galloway, Director of Human Resources
Craig Morneau, Director of Fleet & Facilities
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager