Staff Report #7 – Update – New Year’s Eve Service (2023)

Staff Report #7

January 31, 2024

To All Commissioners

Re: Update – New Year’s Eve Service (2023)


That the report be NOTED and FILED.


New Year’s Eve Service – December 31, 2023

The “Ride the Bus on Us” program was first introduced in 1985 making 2023 the 38th consecutive year the service has been provided. The program provides complimentary service for riders on both conventional and specialized transit services on New Year’s Eve from 8pm until the end of service.

The program is very well received by the community. Further, given the length of time the program has been in place, there is an expectation that London Transit will continue to provide the free service as the community has grown to rely on the service seeing it as an integral part of providing Londoners with a safe trip and an alternative to drinking and driving.

Table I provides a comparison of conventional transit ridership on this night for 2019 through 2023. As was expected due to the declaration of a full lockdown in 2020, ridership on New Year’s Eve declined significantly over pre-pandemic levels. 2021 saw a slight increase, however lockdown restrictions were still in place at that time. 2022 was the first year since the start of the pandemic without any restrictions in place and as a result, there was a 13 percent increase in ridership over the 2019 pre-pandemic levels, noting 2019 ridership was the highest New Year’s Eve ridership since 2016. While 2023 did see a slight decrease in ridership over 2022, there was a slight increase in ridership over the 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

Table I

Ridership Summary – Conventional Transit Service

Year 8pm to Midnight Post-Midnight Total % Change
2019 6,869 1,388 8,257
2020 1,504 101 1,605 -80.6%
2021 3,014 297 3,311 106.3%
2022 7,795 1,563 9,358 182.6%
2023 7,506 1,364 8,870 -5.2%

As with conventional transit service, specialized transit service saw a significant decline in ridership in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the lockdown measures in place at the time. While 2022 saw a decrease in ridership over 2019 (13%), ridership had rebounded to close to pre-pandemic levels. In 2023, there was a slight decrease in ridership from 2022. A summary comparison of specialized services from 2019 to 2023 is set out in Table II.

Table II

Ridership Summary – Specialized Transit Service

Year 8pm to Midnight Post-Midnight Total % Change
2019 46 13 59
2020 11 1 12 -79.7%
2021 27 0 27 125.0%
2022 42 9 51 88.9%
2023 40 8 48 -5.9%

The estimated cost of the free evening for 2023 is $18,176. The cost for 2023 was higher than it has been in recent years as a result of New Year’s Eve falling on a Sunday. As regular Sunday service only operates until 11am, service hours were extended by two hours as opposed to one hour for routes operating until midnight on weekdays and Saturdays, summary particulars are set out in Table III. The estimated cost is funded within the approved 2023 operating budget.

Table III

Summary of Costs – New Year’s Eve Service

Description Amount
Conventional Service  
Loss of Revenue – 8pm to 11pm* $8,872
Loss of Revenue- 11pm to 1am** 0.00
Incremental service delivery cost – post 11pm 7,800
Specialized Service
Loss of Revenue – 8pm to 11pm 108
Incremental service delivery cost – post 11pm 1,396
Total Cost $18,176

* New Year’s Eve was on a Sunday in 2023 and regular Sunday service only operates until 11pmLoss of revenue was calculated on ridership between 8pm and 11pm

**As service normally only operates until 11pm, there was no loss of revenue after 11pm

Schedule information was available to the public by way of special New Year’s Eve timetables (online only), and postings on London Transit’s website and social media. Information regarding the free service was also available on the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

New Year’s Eve service for 2023 was relatively uneventful in terms of operational issues on a night where alcohol consumption is often part of the festivities. This is consistent with the trend over the past number of years where there has been a significant decline in the number of incidents on-board the buses during New Year’s Eve service. As set out in Table IV below, in 2023 there were three passenger problem instances on board, all of which were ‘sleepers’ on the bus which were addressed without incident by Inspectors. No other incidents arose on the service during the free travel period.

Table IV

Summary of On-Board Passenger Issues

Issue 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Workplace Violence 0 0 0 0 0
Biohazards1 0 0 0 2 0
Passenger Problem (behaviour) 3 1 0 0 3
Vandalism 0 0 0 0 0
Medical Emergency2 0 0 0 0 0
Total 3 1 0 2 3
  1. Bodily fluids on bus requiring bus change-off
  2. Situations where EMS are dispatched to bus

Recommended by:

Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager