AMENDED Staff Report #5 – COVID-19 Service and Ridership Impacts


Staff Report #5

November 25, 2020

To All Commissioners

Re: COVID-19 Service and Ridership Impacts


The report be NOTED and FILED.


The pandemic declaration in March of 2020 and associated lockdown measures that followed resulted in a significant decline in transit ridership across the country. In response to the decline in demand and decreased availability of employee resources relating to COVID-19, transit systems reduced service levels to better match ridership being experienced.

Specifically to London Transit, over the period a number of service level changes and reductions have taken place on both the conventional and specialized services. On September 6, 2020 the conventional service increased service levels on the majority of routes, resulting in the overall service operating at approximately 10% less service than what would normally be in place at this time of year. Further details with respect to specific routes follows:

  • Regular fall weekday level of service on Routes 2, 4, 6, 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 25, 27, 28, 31, 33, 34, 37, 90, 91, 93, 94, 102, 104, and 106
  • Regular fall weekday level of service on Routes 30 and 36 with the exception that late evening trips are not operating
  • Regular fall weekday levels of service will resume on Routes 19, 24 and 35 effective November 29, 2020
  • Modified Saturday level of service on Routes 1, 3, 5, 7, 12, 15 and 16
  • Route 92 is not currently operating
  • Community Bus Routes 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 and 56 operating as normal effective October 5, 2020

The chart below provides an overview of the ridership levels on the conventional service since mid-March as a percentage of what would normally be expected at this time noting the numbers are based on actual boardings as counted by the automatic passenger counters on buses.

Conventional Transit Boardings as a Percent of Normal

Ridership March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov to date
Weekday 25% 22% 35% 45% 53% 52% 40% 38% 38%
Saturday 36% 33% 46% 62% 68% 66% 55% 52% 53%
Sunday 35% 30% 54% 70% 76% 71% 57% 47% 47%

As indicated in the table above, ridership levelled off and remained somewhat consistent in July and August, notwithstanding the return to front door boarding and fare collection effective August 19, 2020. While the ridership numbers for September through November appear to drop off, it is important to note they are being compared to average ridership during a normal fall period when students return. To date, the anticipated increases in ridership associated with the tuition pass program participants at both Western and Fanshawe have not materialized. All routes continue to be monitored in an effort to determine where and when ridership is occurring so resources can be allocated accordingly.

On the specialized service, ridership has also begun to rise with the opening of the economy; however, not to the same extent that has occurred on the conventional service. The table below provides the ridership on the specialized service since mid-March shown as a percentage of what would normally be expected during this time period.

Specialized Transit Ridership as a Percent of Normal

Ridership March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov to date
Weekday 17% 11% 16% 23% 30% 34% 37% 37% 41%
Saturday 20% 20% 24% 33% 45% 47% 51% 49% 49%
Sunday 7% 3% 8% 16% 24% 29% 34% 36% 37%

Upcoming Service Changes

The next scheduled service period begins November 29, 2020. LTC Operators had signed three different levels of service in an effort to provide the opportunity to implement the service level that best meets current and anticipated ridership levels and that can be provided given available employee resources. The service level which will be in effect for November 29, 2020 will be the same that is in place now (10% reduction from normal). As noted above, Routes 19, 24 and 35 will be returning to regular weekday service levels, consistent with the levels of service that were in place in September 2019.

Additionally, work is currently underway to prepare for the winter signup which will be signed by the Operators in early December and become effective February 7, 2021. As ridership levels at the post-secondary institutions has not returned to the anticipated levels, Routes 27, 102 and 106 will see reduced frequency levels beginning in February. As the November service levels were signed by the Operators in September there was no time to fully assess the ridership demands from the post-secondary institutions at that time given the delayed return to class. Assuming resource availability remains consistent with what is currently being experienced, Routes 3, 5, 7, 12, 15 and 16 will return to regular weekday service levels beginning in February with the 10% reduction from normal service levels remaining in place. This will be confirmed closer to the February effective date.

With respect to the specialized service, service levels will be increased to coincide with increased demand for service. Given the pre-booked nature of this service, demand by day of week and time of day is easily assessed, and as such, service can be added to the days/times most in demand.

Detailed Ridership Assessment

In preparation for discussion with respect to the 2021 Service Plan and 2021 Operating budget, a detailed analysis of ridership levels and makeup for the months September through December 2020. This assessment is anticipated to provide some further insight into the riders continuing to utilize the service, and the expectations for same going forward.

Recommended by:

Katie Burns, Director of Planning

Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager