'We need to put the city on notice': LTC may look to City Hall for financial help
LONDON, ONT -- The London Transit Commission is putting the City on notice saying it will be forced to go to city taxpayers with cap in hand, if it doesn’t get financial support from upper levels of government.
Since COVID-19, measures were put in place, including rear-door boarding and waiving fares, the service has been losing between $1.5 and $3-million per month.
General Manager Kelly Paleczny says such revenue losses cannot be sustained.
Following a presentation of her financial report to the commission Wednesday evening Paleczy told CTV News that if the provincial and/federal governments are not able to provide financial support, the only other option is go to the city.
“And now we’re at a point we need to put the city on notice that if we’re going to continue to need to operate in this manner we’re going to need some help. Now having said that we’re also looking at ways to move back to front-door boarding and begin collecting fares again.”
As it stands, the commission has already burned through two reserve funds.
An operating deficit of $700,000 is expected by the end of June.
Commission Chair, Coun. Phil Squire said going to any level of government will be a tough sell, given all the financial resources that are already being directed towards the pandemic.
“No ask of the city council of which I’m a member is going to be easy, so the preference from my point of view is to see what the federal and provincial governments are prepared to do.”
But even once the economy is up and running it is far from full-steam-ahead.
Officials at London Transit are all too aware that new pressures will keep city buses in the slow lane for some time.
Paleczy said there are several questions, not the least of which is the potential loss of student riders.
“What’s going to happen with post-secondary schools? That’s a big chunk of our ridership here in London. If they’re going to continue with online will we see that same demand? What will the public accept in terms of crowding conditions on buses? I mean certainly there’s an expectation of physical distancing?
In the meantime, the commission voted unanimously to extend rear-boarding and the waiving of fares until the end of June.