COVID-19 pandemic still impacting London Transit

London Transit predicts the financial, ridership and staffing impacts of the pandemic will stretch into next year.

Ridership this month remains about 20 per cent lower than in August 2019. before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re assuming the ridership trend that has been increasing will continue to increase and we will get to pre-COVID levels sometime in 2023, but not starting the year,” said General Manater Kelly Paleczny.

In a new report, higher fuel prices and lagging ridership are projected to take another financial toll.

The draft 2023 budget includes an estimated $5.4-million deficit.

However, Paleczny says like in 2020 and 2021, a balanced budget will be presented by March 2023.

“We’ve provided estimates based on what we know and some assumptions that we’ve made,” she explained. “What we’re saying is we’ll come back in March with a budget that will be balanced.”

London Transit has made progress hiring and training new bus drivers but a shortage of mechanics and skilled trades is threatening to delay improvements to bus frequency on several routes.

New buses ordered this year are subject to manufacturing delays and once delivered, mechanics will need 65 hours to prepare each bus for deployment.

Paleczny says the shortage of mechanics is an industry-wide challenge.

“We’re certainly exploring all avenues to get that compliment back up, but it is something we are struggling with,” she said.

The London Transit Commission will receive updates on ridership, staffing and the draft budget at its meeting on Aug. 31.

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