Parts and people, a shortage of both is creating challenges of the London Transit Commission
Buses pour into the London Transit depot at the end of the day but the question is, will they be available the next day.
In the days since a London Transit Commission (LTC) staff report was written on a pandemic-induced parts shortage, LTC General Manager Kelly Paleczny says the number has changed again, “At the time of the report writing we were down 19 buses. We've lost another four in the last couple of days."
Paleczny told an LTC meeting Wednesday evening that every transit service in the country is suffering from supply chain issues and it may take some creative solutions.
They're currently considering overriding a fuel filter sensor that's failing and can’t be sourced, “So the transit industry has been working with the Ministry of the Environment to see if we can, essentially, turn that sensor off until such time as we can get chips."
Paleczny says staff can see no end in sight for parts supply issues.
As for personnel, COVID-19 retirements and resignations in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have created a demand in that market which Paleczny says is impacting London.
“We were attracting potential employees out of the GTA to move to London because they could see that they would move up the seniority ladder faster and get better shifts faster than they would if they decided to stay local."
Paleczny says another issue is that London has been losing one of its competitive advantages; affordability. Specifically the cost of housing. As prices go up here it become less attractive for someone, even in places like the GTA, to give up their home and make the move.
Once again the personnel shortage may require creative solutions, with Commissioner Tariq Khan suggesting a little leniency for candidates who fail the drivers test and have to wait a year for a re-do.
"If we can reduce that period of one year, we may get good candidates from London."
LTC staff say it's an idea worth considering.
A new chair was selected for the Transit Commission on Wednesday. London city councillor Jesse Helmer replaces Phil Squire as chair, with Squire having recently vacated his commission seat.
But the vice-chair election resulted in a split vote, with Sheryl Rooth and new commission member Stephanie Marentette getting two votes apiece.
The commission currently has four members, as they await Squire’s replacement. They opted to defer taking another vote on vice-chair until Squire’s replacement is named as the fifth commission member.