OC Transpo outlines 2022 Business Plan and gives update on 2021 priority projects – Bay Ward Bulletin

On Wednesday, March 30th, the Transit Commission received the Transit Services 2022 Business Plan and Reporting on 2021 Business Plan. This report provides an update on the 10 key departmental priorities identified in the 2021 Business Plan and identifies seven priority initiatives for 2022.

Despite COVID-19 challenges, Transit Services made substantial progress on 2021 Business Plan priorities. Some highlights of the completed work include:

  • Four zero-emission buses are now in operation, as part of the gradual transition to a zero-emission bus fleet, including technology retrofits at the 1500 St-Laurent garage.
  • No-charge weekly and monthly transit passes at emergency shelters, as well as a fare freeze for the EquiPass, Community Pass and Access Pass as part of the 2022 Budget, following recommendations by the Transit Fare Working Group.
  • Progress on research into the use of on-demand transit, and the beginning of consultations with technology providers on feasibility.
  • Enhanced real-time information for customers, including new transit information screens at several bus stops and O-Train stations.
  • Procuring permanent bus operator barriers and completing installation of barriers on all conventional buses in January 2022.
  • Ongoing O-Train Line 1 station improvements based on customer feedback and staff observations of the multimodal connections between O-Train Line 1 and buses at Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations.
  • Upgrades to the O-Train simulators with Stage 2 O-Train extensions, stations, and consoles matching the interior of the new Stadler trains anticipated to be available for operator training by the end of 2022 for Lines 2 and 4.
  • Continued progress on Stage 2 O-Train construction, including the Confederation Line east and west extensions, as well as the Trillium Line’s south extensions.

The seven priority initiatives identified for 2022 are:

  1. Continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Enhancing performance of O-Train Line 1
  3. Stage 2 O-Train expansion
  4. The Transpo improvements
  5. Zero-Emission Bus Program
  6. Fare system improvements
  7. Increasing transit ridership

The Transit Commission also received an update on O-Train Line 1 and bus service. Data presented confirmed that reliability remains high since the resumption of Line 1 service in November 2021. Para Transpo continues to meet all customer trip requests, with an on-time performance of 98.5 per cent.

OC Transpo’s fare increase, originally planned for January 1, 2022, is scheduled to take effect on May 1. As directed by Council, this will proceed following confirmation from Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) that they will have 15 trains available for revenue service for a period of four weeks.

Staff reported that annual 2021 ridership was 32 percent of 2019 levels on conventional buses and trains, and 42 percent of 2019 levels on Para Transpo. Month-by-month ridership levels in 2021 varied based on the vaccine rollout, changes in public health restrictions, reduction in bus service to match ridership and the unplanned closure of O-Train Line 1 in the fall.

During unlimited, no-charge transit service in December 2021, ridership was approximately 3.8 million customer-trips – about the same ridership as in November 2021 and 45 per cent of 2019 ridership. In December, Para Transpo was at 63 per cent of 2019 levels. Ridership levels in December 2021 were influenced by public health restrictions and seasonal ridership changes. The cost of the no-charge service in December 2021 was approximately $9 million.

The Transit Commission carried a motion that the Mayor wrote to the federal Minister of Finance, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, as well as all Members of Parliament from the National Capital Region, requesting that the federal government provides funding to offset the operating deficit of OC Transpo, as a result of the decision of the federal government to maintain the work-from-home model past 2022, and that the federal commitment to provide public transit agencies with funding for operating budgets by 2026 be expected. The motion will be considered at City Council on April 13.