London Transit stretched to capacity, addresses delays and crowding

For weeks, buses have been filled to capacity and struggling to stay on schedule around Western University each rush hour.

“Stops that are before this stop get the bus full, so stops like Essex [Street] and Hollywood [Crescent] just get passed by,” explains Ammanat Mann as she waits for her bus to campus. “That makes it frustrating for students.”

A report to the London Transit Commission (LTC) points to a number of challenges including construction detours downtown, rebounding ridership and an inability to deploy enough buses to busy routes.

In September, ridership has jumped to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on weekdays and exceeds pre-pandemic levels on weekends.

Ridership has reached 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on weekdays in September 2022. (Source: London Transit)

However, there are not enough bus drivers available to operate so-called “tripper” buses that supplement service during peak demand.

The LTC report explains, “Resource limitations have impacted the ability to add tripper buses to help alleviate route specific issues as would traditionally be done.”

In addition, five job postings for skilled labour positions in the Department of Fleet & Facilities have received zero applications.

To ensure the required number of buses are available each day, duties have been realigned in the maintenance garage to enhance workflow, and an agreement with ATU Local 741 will create two new apprentice positions.

London Transit will continue conducting five-week driver training courses until sometime next year to address planned retirements and additional vacation earned by experienced drivers in their collective agreement.

“As onboarding of new Operators continues and (as) resources allow, tripper buses will also be utilized to help mitigate the impacts of the schedule adherence delays and provide additional capacity on crowded routes,” reads the LTC report.

The report on ridership will be considered by the London Transit Commission on Sept. 28.