Planned expansions, improvements deferred as London transit extends rear boarding to end of May

London Transit Commission (LTC) chair and city councillor Phil Squire describes the end of May as a “tipping point” for transit as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to put a massive strain on what is an essential service.

At a board meeting on Wednesday, commissioners voted to extend a ‘rear boarding’ policy to the end of May, meaning riders that are physically able to do so will continue to board buses through the back doors. As a result of that policy, first implemented March 20, fares have not been collected, resulting in an estimated loss of $1.6-million in revenue per month. The LTC also recently approved a motion to implement barriers around drivers at an emergency meeting April 17 at a cost of roughly $1.5-million.

Revenue loss totalled $513,000 in March and $1.7-million in April, according to Squire.

In an effort to soften the financial blow from the loss of fares and cost to implement new safety measures, the LTC also voted Wednesday to put off its 2020 service plan and assessment growth projects, which Squire says will “fund our shortfall up until” the end of May.

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“We’re putting off industrial service which was something people really wanted, we’re having to put off some of the improvements to routes that we did,” said Squire.

“That’s really difficult when you’ve planned on this stuff for years, you’ve budgeted for it, and you’ve announced it and now you have to sort of put it on the back burner,”  he said, though he noted that the LTC is not alone in facing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic.

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