LTC sets sights on 3.8 per cent budget increase as service quality deteriorates
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
The London Transit Commission (LTC) moves into its budget deliberation with a 3.8 per cent increase in sight.
During a meeting earlier this week, LTC Transportation and Planning Director John Ford explained complaints about conventional service have increased by approximately 68 per cent and requests by 173 per cent compared to last year.
Specialized service has also been significantly impacted, as non-accommodated trips have increased to more than 100 per cent.
“Given the constrained resources over the past several years and the economic realities, while service cuts haven’t been necessary only modest service improvements have been possible,” Ford said. “But, they have certainly not kept pace with the service requests.”
LTC General Manager Larry Ducharme explained this problem has been developing for the LTC over the past four years, as an increase in ridership hasn’t been matched by service growth.
“What you’re doing is you’re putting more people on the buses with the same or relatively less hours because the city grows in terms of size and the population,” Ducharme said, adding this could hurt the commission in the long-term. “The issue is … there have not been service cuts, but there has been significant deterioration of service quality.”
“If I keep saying no and I keep missing you at the bus stop, I will tell you they will make other choices.”
Ford added the first available opportunity to impact these poor service quality indicators would be 2013.
But the hope is, if the LTC were given more money from the city, the number of complaints about overcrowded buses or people being left behind at bus stops would likely go down, Ford said.
Ward 12 Councillor Harold Usher, who’s also LTC chair, said that’s a message that needs to be hammered home to the city’s elected officials. He said a zero or even two per cent increase won't cut it.
“I think they know it, but I’m not so sure they understand the total impact of this,” he said. “In order for us to do this better, we would have to provide more of that service hours, which would cost us more money (that) we don’t have.
“If the city would provide more money, it would alleviate some of these things.”