The London Transit Commission’s 2015 Annual Report has one glaring statistic in it — a significant number of Londoners chose different modes of transportation than city transit last year.
The report, which will be presented to a city committee next week, shows that ridership in 2015 was down 1.5 per cent, erasing gains made between 2012-2014 (down to 22.7-million rides).
It also reads that the declines are isolated to the conventional service, while specialized transit continued its upward trend resulting in its highest ridership ever.
LTC General Manager Kelly Paleczny said changes to the Ontario Works government program are likely to blame.
“Historically, clients of Ontario Works were issued a monthly bus pass to provide transportation for the month,” she said. “Beginning in December 2014, that program changed and clients received a stipend, a dollar amount, that could be used for transportation, but the mode was up to the client.”
Paleczny added that transit systems across the country are seeing dips in the number of riders, likely to do with the economy and that “people are just traveling less.” She dismissed the idea that ride-sharing app Uber had any role in the LTC’s dip in numbers.
Meanwhile, about 17,500 service hours were introduced to the transit system in 2015. The report mentions that coupled with the lower ridership numbers positively affected the problem of overcrowding.
Major service changes are set to come into effect on Sunday, something Paleczny says is the big goal for this year. To see if the changes will affect your route, visit the LTC’s website.
“This is probably the biggest service changes we’ve made in my time here. We added 17,000 hours of service, but the changes we made impacted 56,000 hours. The difference between the 56 and the 17 are routes that we either realigned, changed frequencies, moved a route,” said Paleczny. “The outcome of the five year plan is to have a system that’s right-sized. The intent over the five years is to do significant realignments to have a system where all of the routes are operating at frequencies that are appropriate for the ridership that we are seeing, or are projecting to see, on those routes.”
The report will be presented to the Civic Works Committee on Wednesday.