OC Transpo warns that transit drivers may see more travel cancellations next week as the transit service faces staff shortages caused by summer vacations and “higher-than-normal absenteeism”.
Dozens of trips were canceled during the Thursday morning commute, prompting Ottawa Transit Riders to tweet, “Watch OCTranspoLive for lots of cancellations this morning.” Between 5.30am and 8.25am on Thursday, 66 bus trips were cancelled, with more cancellations in the morning and afternoon rush hours.
“OC Transpo has experienced a higher number of trips that have not been delivered in recent days compared to normal standards,” Troy Charter, director of Transit Service Delivery and Rail Operations at OC Transpo, said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.
At 4.30 p.m. on Thursday, two percent of all scheduled bus trips (173 journeys) had been cancelled. On Wednesday, 324 bus trips had been cancelled, which corresponds to four percent of all planned trips.
OC Transpo typically plans 7,900 trips per day.
“Customers are expected to experience more travel cancellations next week based on a few short-term factors, including the number of employees who worked overtime last week while O-Train Line 1 was being repaired, more than usual absenteeism due to illness and normal seasonal vacations,” Charter said.
Last week, service outages on the O-Train after a lightning strike led OC Transpo to launch its R1 replacement bus service for five days.
“Staff recognize that undelivered or late arrivals will impact customers’ travel,” Charter said.
In May, OC Transpo completed only 94.4 percent of its scheduled journeys, as the service was still dealing with a driver shortage. The Transit Commission was told that the lapse and the new mandatory 30-minute breaks for operators in the spring led to a shortage of available operators.
“OC Transpo implemented a robust recruitment campaign this fall to expand bus and coach services,” said Charter.
“We have been providing more training sessions throughout the year to fill vacant bus driver positions as quickly as possible. In this transition phase, our priority is to reduce any impact on customer service as we aim to reduce the number of undelivered or arriving reduce travel. late.”
Charter says 32 new bus operator interns will graduate and enter service in mid-August, on top of the 58 bus operators that started in the spring.
“OC Transpo is making every effort to improve service reliability for the rest of August and September,” said Charter.
The transit service has set a target of hiring up to 300 new operators by the end of the year to meet current needs and prepare for future requirements. Eighty of the new hires will meet the new requirements of Canada’s Labor Code, requiring state executives to be given a 30-minute break for every five hours of service.
In May, OC Transpo said it was taking a number of steps to improve bus service, including:
- End Temporary Assignments
- Negotiating delayed retirement
- Minimize leave time
- Efficiency in the work booking process
- Strategic placement of bus and bus operators
- Increased operational supervision
- Adjustments to support priority routes
OC Transpo says it will work to ensure transit drivers are notified in advance of canceled routes.
“OC Transpo is committed to ensuring that our customers receive accurate, relevant and timely information about service interruptions,” said Charter. “We recognize that not every cancellation has been shared today via the OC Transpo Live Twitter feed. When time or resources are limited, we prioritize informing customers traveling on trips such as the Connexion routes, irregular trips, school trips or travel with a higher number of passengers.”