Hike service

New London Transit buses could be delayed, threatening service improvements

London’s public transport agency is preparing for a summer of construction that will push buses off routes and tackle potential threats to its future service.

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London’s public transport agency is preparing for a summer of construction that will push buses off routes and tackle potential threats to its future service. Here’s what you need to know ahead of the London Transit Commission’s monthly meeting on Wednesday:

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Possible delay in new bus order

The company supplying the new London buses warns of a possible wait given the global shortage of computer chips. Transit staff say they are in ‘regular contact’ with New Flyer who were due to deliver five buses to expand the London fleet, plus others needed to replace aging vehicles on the way out. It’s unclear how long the delivery could be delayed, but it will threaten plans to roll out more frequent bus service in September if none of the buses arrive on time. Typically, the London Transit Commission (LTC) would keep buses ready for retirement in regular rotation awaiting new arrivals, but the costs of this approach – given the supply chains already backed up – might not be possible, notify the staff.

Student contracts

Public transport passes for university and college students in London, which are included in their tuition fees, are set to rise by 2% next year, to $266, after a one-year extension. But the negotiation process leaves clues about what could be a tough future for the transit commission that depends on those students to pay a huge chunk of fares every year. There is no option for post-secondary students to “opt out” of the transit pass, but with so many courses at Fanshawe College and Western University taking place entirely online, the extension of Last year’s contract included exemptions for students who weren’t in town at all. The student pass contract was due to be renegotiated in August 2021, before a one-year extension in view of the pandemic. Student councils, however, pushed for a freeze this year, despite a 5% increase dictated by inflationary contract terms. “Students feel they are not receiving value for their investment in the annual pass,” transit staff said in their report to the commission. A compromise was found for the following year, including a 2% increase.

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Weekend traffic peak

Although public transport ridership continues to hover around 60% of normal – the highest level since the COVID-19 pandemic – more passengers seem to be jumping on the bus during the weekends. Ridership was between 70 and 80 percent of typical levels on weekends in March and April, an increase that LTC staff attributed to the removal of provincial pandemic restrictions on March 1 and the return of a more pre-COVID events and activities.

New shelters are coming

Thirty new bus shelters will be installed across the city this year, the second half of a program funded by senior governments and delayed by the pandemic. The total price, including hardware and installation, is $218,000.

City center construction site

The construction of new rapid transit lines in London will cause some buses to deviate from their path this spring and summer, particularly in the city center where construction has begun on portions of Ridout and King streets. Other projects starting this year, such as the repair and replacement of the Victoria Bridge, will involve long detours. Routes 4, 15 and 104 will travel up Richmond Street, Carfrae Crescent and Grand Avenue while the Ridout Street Bridge is under construction. It is expected to be completed in May 2023.

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