From OC Transpo, Chair Gower
Why are buses being cancelled and what is OC Transpo doing about it? The first week of September saw a high number of cancellations, especially on frequent routes. This week was better, but service fell below Renée Amilcar's target of 99.5% of trips delivered each day.
There are two main causes for the cancellations: a maintenance backlog for buses, and a shortage of drivers. OC Transpo staff gave an update at Thursday's Transit Commission meeting.
Maintenance backlog: During the Line 1 disruption, more buses were deployed for R1 replacement bus service. With so many buses in service, many logged higher kilometres than usual and require preventative maintenance and inspections. The aging articulated buses require more general maintenance than newer buses. Staff anticipate this maintenance backlog to be cleared within the next 15 to 30 days. OC Transpo is also beefing up its recruitment efforts to secure more technicians and other skilled tradespeople while also providing additional training to current mechanics and supervisors. They're also extending partnerships with other transit agencies and suppliers to provide more resources to the maintenance team.
Driver shortage: OC Transpo is continuing efforts to hire more bus operators. So far this year OC Transpo has hired 260 new bus operators and is expecting to hold its first all-women bus operator training class that will be led by all-women trainers. They've also launched a strategy to reduce absenteeism.
On-demand: We learned details about the demonstration pilot project that will bring on-demand transit service to Blackburn Hamlet in the east end starting this fall. The pilot project intends to improve customer experience on OC Transpo by reducing waiting times and travel times. The on-demand service will run on weekends only and use minibuses already in the OC Transpo fleet. The City owns 80 minibuses, and currently only 44 of those are required for weekend service, so the pilot will not impact service to Para Transpo customers. Results from the pilot will be used to inform possible expansion of on-demand service across Ottawa in response to changing travel habits since the COVID-19 pandemic.
What's next: The number of cancellations will decrease in September. In the meantime, there will be a difference between the online schedules and the printed ones at the bus stops until this issue is resolved. For the most up-to-date information:
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