Transit Commission receives OC Transpo ridership report

A graphic with Ottawa City Hall is in the background. A vertical grey stripe and a horizontal orange stripe are in the foreground with "Transit Commission update" in the centre.

The Transit Commission heard today that O-Train Line 1 and conventional bus ridership reached a peak of 6 million customer-trips in March of 2023 – the highest ridership seen since 2019, and an increase from 4.4 million in March of 2022. 

On an average weekday this past March, apart from March Break, the rate of service delivery for conventional bus service increased to 98 per cent and an average of 231 of 8,367 daily weekday scheduled trips were not delivered. Para Transpo ridership is at 82 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with 66,200 customer trips in March 2023, compared to 47,800 in March 2022. On-time performance was at 94 per cent this February.

The ridership numbers for all of Q1 2023, however, are below expectations, and resulted in a $3.9 million revenue shortfall, as indicated in the 2023 Transit Operating and Capital Budget Status Report. This is largely offset by reduced spending on operations, which was $2.7 million less than budgeted. 

First-quarter funding from senior levels of government has not yet been confirmed but is anticipated to be $10.4 million.

Commission members also received an update on the zero-emission bus pilot project and the four battery-electric buses that have been operating since February 2022. The buses met or surpassed expectations that were set based on data provided by the manufacturer. They were regularly able to operate for longer than 10 hours and travel more than 200 kilometers on a single charge. The four buses saved the City more than 100,000 litres of diesel fuel and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 280,000 kg. The pilot project has shown that battery electric buses can be a viable replacement for traditional diesel buses.

Staff provided a presentation on OC Transpo’s Special Constable Unit (SCU) that highlighted the roles and responsibilities of the SCU, including their mandate, authority, training, and the ongoing professional development required for officers. The presentation also showcased some key performance indicators tracked during 2022, including 20,377 calls for service, 662 medical calls, and 207 online incident reports.

Staff also announced the creation of a quantitative customer survey plan, which will take a regular pulse of customer sentiment and measure the impact of our initiatives on public trust.

The Commission also received a report on communicating in real-time to customers. OC Transpo is updating the technology used to provide accurate GPS based predictions for bus arrival times to help customers plan their trips. Additional updates will be made in 2024 to further improve the data available to customers and to enhance service alerts.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, May 24.

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