Yesterday, Transit Commission approved the OC Transpo 2023 Draft Operating and Capital Budget. The budget freezes OC Transpo and Para Transpo fares for 2023. The cost of the EquiPass for low-income residents and the Community Pass for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients will also remain frozen at 2018 rates.
Budget investments include expanding OC Transpo’s zero-emission bus program, hiring 360 new operators, and the upcoming launch of O-Train Lines 2 and 4.
The cost of operating OC Transpo sits at $567 million, an increase of $27.5 million compared to 2022. Budgetary pressures include:
- Ridership levels continuing below pre-pandemic levels
- The 2023 fare freeze
- Inflationary costs such as diesel fuel, wages, and vehicle parts
- The upcoming launch of O-Train Lines 2 and 4
- Legislative changes to the Canada Labour Code
Some savings were realized, including the conclusion of enhanced COVID-19 touchpoint sanitization requirements and a plan to realign the fleet from 855 buses down to 738. This fleet reduction will not impact service, as the buses being removed are not required to meet current service levels and are nearing the end of their useful lifespan. The City is also counting on receiving at least $39 million in Provincial Safe Restart Agreement funding.
Transit Commission passed a motion to extend free transit service to children 12 years old and under starting July 1, 2023. Currently, free service is available to children 7 years old and under.
The Transit Services 2023 Draft Budget will rise to Council on March 1.
O-Train Line 1 and conventional bus ridership was at 5.1 million customer trips in December 2022, a significant increase compared to 3.8 million in 2021. Overall, on-time performance and service availability have remained high. In January 2023, key performance indicators show that the O-Train line 1 service disruption from January 4 to 10 had an impact on O-Train Line 1 service and heavy snowfall during the month impacted conventional bus service delivery on occasion. The OC Transpo system can meet current and future ridership demands and is a safe and reliable way to move around the city.
Para Transpo ridership saw an increase year-over-year and provided 53,900 customer trips in December 2022 compared to 42,700 customer trips in December 2021. Customer complaints continue to decrease on a month-by-month basis and on-time performance remains steady.
Transit Commission received an update on the root cause analysis of the January 4 to 10 O-Train Line 1 service disruption caused by severe freezing rain. A report is being finalized and will be shared with Transit Commission at a future date.
OC Transpo launched the procurement phase for the first batch of new electric buses under the Canada Infrastructure Bank and Infrastructure Canada funding agreements. In Q1 2023, OC Transpo will negotiate the Design Building Contract Agreement for the charging infrastructure with Envari Energy Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of Hydro Ottawa.