Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Anticipated ridership loss means less bus purchases

According to the Ottawa Metro, OC Transpo staff have recommended that the city delay new bus acquisitions in order to offset some of the costs of the recent strike. By not buying the 25 buses, the city would save $16.3M, according to the report.

Staff are expecting 80.1M passenger trips this year, which is 24.4M fewer passenger trips than the 104.5M target established before the strike. Reasons for the ridership dip include the strike (estimated to cost 17.5 passenger trips) and the slowing economy. It won't be cheap, according to the report:
Those 24.3 million [stet] fewer trips translate into a $31.4-million loss of revenue, on top of what has already been lost through the free week and free weekends offered in February and the discounts for March passes.

The revenue loss could reach as high as $38 million, if the city decides to postpone a proposed 7.5 per cent fare increase scheduled for April until June.


Anonymous said...

Imagine if there were some way to guarantee revenue and ridership for a ridiculously low cost.

Oh, hello there, universal student bus pass.

Anonymous said...

The revised Transit operating budget for 2009 estimates a 23.3% decline in ridership from approved budget estimate of 104.4 million riders, to a lower total of 80.1 million riders. This effectively wipes out 13 years of year-over-year ridership gains. It brings OC Transpo's ridership level back to 1996!

(This is very much similar to the dramatic losses in the stock market that bring values of all stock back to what they were over a decade ago).

A reduction of 24.3 million riders means that we have too many bus drivers, supervisors and buses for the 80.1 million riders now estimated compared to the budgeted 104.4 million riders.

What this works out to is an equivalent excess capacity of 270,000 bus runs that Staff are proposing to operate and run empty in 2009.

Is this what we want?

To fund this excess operating capacity and not lay off staff, Staff wants Council to approve a transfer of $22.7 million from the capital budget to the operating budget by not buying as many new buses as previously planned.

Staff are also saying that their crystal ball has ridership back to Nov 2008 levels by mid 2010, so that the $22.7 million it needs this year to cover the operating shortfall will be half next year and nothing the year after that.

My crystal ball is not that optimistic and sees many, many more years before ridership levels are restored. And, many, many more years of having to rob the transit capital fund needed to build Ottawa's future transit system.

Anonymous said...

Committee approved Staff's proposal to fill the operating budget hole through a one-time transfer of funds from the capital budget.

Staff argued that it needs to spend the earmarked money to improve transit service and not cut back relative to projected ridership.

Staff also said that Council has directed them to find a financial solution that does not increase taxes; and since Staff can't get the needed money from further fare increases, will not recommend a reduction in transit services, the only place left to go is to the capital pot of money and to defer some of the planned bus purchases this year.

Alain Mercier said that he can continue to use the current buses that would have been otherwise retired.

Anonymous said...

They should start laying off drivers.
Maybe next time they wont be so quick to strike if they realize that they jeopardize their jobs by doing so.