Transit Commission tables OC Transpo’s 2022 Draft Budget

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Following today’s meeting of City Council, Transit Commission tabled OC Transpo’s 2022 Draft Budget.

To keep transit affordable for low-income residents and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients, OC Transpo’s 2022 Draft Budget includes a continued freeze on EquiPass fares and the Community Pass at 2018 levels.

The 2022 Draft Budget is based on an increase in ridership to 82% of pre-pandemic levels, and includes:

  • A 2.5 per cent regular fare increase effective January 1.
  • No service expansion on all modes of transit.
  • Savings of $11 million resulting from the continuation of the temporary service reductions which began in mid-2021.
  • Inflation and a cost-of-living adjustment.
  • $5.2 million in annualized costs to cover Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) costs, provide legislated breaks for federally regulated staff and to cover the cost of the September 30 federal holiday.
  • An increase of $3.9 million for maintenance of fare control and other software supports.

Staff also provided a summary of transit and customer service investments included in the 2022 Draft Budget, including:

  • $55 million to replace 74 40-foot buses, which are expected to be zero-emission battery electric buses
  • $17.4 million to support the operational transition to the Stage 2 O-Train expansions.
  • $9.6 million in improvements to transit stations and bus stops, including new and improved bus pads, shelters, and other customer amenities.
  • $8 million to ensure Wi-Fi and cellular service for customers in the Stage 2 expansions (as part of a cost-sharing agreement with TELUS).
  • $500,000 in accessibility improvements at Transitway and O-Train stations.
  • $625,000 for a proposed marketing campaign to encourage ridership following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $11 million in customer service initiatives and upgrades to improve service levels, reliability and customer engagement.
  • $250,000 in technology to improve customer-facing systems, including octranspo.com.

It was confirmed to the Transit Commission that in 2022, OC Transpo will be relying on assistance in the form of one-time government funding to cover $60.6 million in expected costs and pressures relating to COVID-19, including reductions in fare and advertising revenues, anticipated reductions in provincial gas tax funding, and increased staffing and supplies for enhanced cleaning and personal protective equipment. If funding is not received, staff will look to financial mitigation strategies before then, if necessary, preparing plans for consideration by the Transit Commission and City Council, in-line with the guidelines approved by Council in April.

Staff also provided an update on the financing and procurement process for OC Transpo’s Zero Emission Bus Program, involving the purchase of up to 450 buses to battery-electric between 2022 and 2027. Staff advised that due to the federal election, project funding agreements are not ready to be included in the 2022 Draft Budget, and that financial close on agreements with the City’s project funding partners is expected in the first quarter of 2022.

OC Transpo’s 2022 Draft Budget will be considered by the Transit Commission on November 17, and then by City Council on December 8.

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