London, Ont. –
Plans to enhance London Transit bus service next month have been delayed until next year.
In a new report to the London Transit Commission, administration blames a shortage of bus parts and drivers for stalling service improvements on Routes 31 and 34 until at least February 2022.
The routes link Western University to Masonville Place Shopping Mall and the Hyde Park neighbourhood.
Currently, 14 city buses are idled because pandemic-related supply chain issues have impacted parts needed to make repairs.
“The parts required are outstanding, noting in some cases, suppliers are indicating a delivery date of 16 weeks out from date of order,” reads the report.
In addition, five buses are out of service because of a North America-wide shortage of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) sensors — the delivery date is unknown.
London Transit has also learned of an impending tire shortage, “shipments will be limited until further notice.”
Meanwhile, staffing issues continue to plague the public transit agency.
Since the beginning of August, 14 new drivers completed their training, but 17 unexpectedly retired.
The average age of the retired drivers was 66, and their decisions are being linked to the worldwide pandemic employment phenomenon dubbed The Great Resignation.
The report concludes, “This compliment level is not sufficient to return to full fall 2019 service levels, nor can it support the frequency improvements on Routes 31 and 34 as planned.”
Hiring efforts are also being thwarted by candidates declining job offers.
“There has been a discernible increase in the number of candidates who complete the entire recruitment process, and then decline the position when it is offered, with most indicating they had chosen to move forward with other opportunities, or to stay with their current employer,” explains the report.
The London Transit Commission will discuss the pandemic’s impacts on service at its Oct. 27 meeting.