Staff Report # 6 – COVID-19 Service Impacts

Staff Report #6

February 23, 2022

To All Commissioners

Re: COVID-19 Service Impacts


The report be NOTED and FILED.


At the January 26, 2022 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 early February approximately 20% of the workforce had been impacted by COVID-19, either self-isolating due to a close contact or symptoms, testing positive for COVID-19, 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.

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 six Operators is currently in training and will be available for service at the end of February, and another class of six have confirmed their acceptance and will begin training in early March. These new hires will bring the complement level to where it needs to be in order to return to 100% service levels for the spring signup period (beginning May 1), and to begin the implementation of the 2021 service improvements. Recruitment will continue in anticipation of budget approval for the 2022 service improvements, which are planned to be implemented in September 2022.

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 34 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. This represents an increase of 100% over last month, as breakdowns continue to result in the need for parts that are unavailable.

In addition to a general parts shortage, there is a severe supply chain issues 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). Administration has identified a source for an alternative battery that will help address this issue; however, the supplier is indicating a delivery time of April 2022 at the earliest.

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.

Bus availability will continue to be closely monitored in the coming months noting the intent to move to 100% service levels and begin the implementations of 2021 service improvements beginning in May will increase the number of buses required daily for service. Administration will continue to work with parts suppliers and industry partners on solutions to address the ongoing shortages and resulting issues with bus availability.

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.

Recommended by:

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