A new report from the London Transit Commission is revealing the financial impact the pandemic has had on plans to replace and expand the LTC fleet.
According to the latest Staff Report on COVID-19 Ridership and Service Impacts, inflation coupled with major parts shortages due to supply chain disruptions will delay the delivery of new buses to 2023.
A letter sent to the LTC from New Flyer, the company manufacturing the new buses, says the global computer chip shortage is behind the delay of the LTC order of 22 new buses, five of which are intended to expand the current fleet.
The letter says the delays coupled with inflation means the price of the current order of 22 news buses will increase by seven per cent, leading to a total budget increase for expanding and replacing the existing fleet to $992,900.
“This new pricing is something that we will have to consider in our capital budget that will be going forward for 2023, and whether or not those increased prices can still be accommodated, or whether we have to look at adjusting the number of buses that we’re able to buy,” said Kelly Paleczny, LTC general manager.
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Despite the increase, Paleczny said it was still something they should be able to accommodate within the 2022 capital budget.
All this, meanwhile, is happening as the LTC is experiencing a boost in ridership amid things reopening as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
The LTC report shows how ridership for May and June are back to 80 per cent normal and substantially higher than during the height of the pandemic.
She said it is hard to estimate when the new buses will arrive, but pending any more delays, she said the best hope is that they come in the first quarter of 2023, which is still subject to change.
She notes that as buses need to be retired from service, riders may notice an impact while the LTC waits for the replacements to come in.
While the delay in the 17 new replacement buses could potentially impact riders, Paleczny said the delay in the five buses meant to expand the fleet will be seen by Londoners the most.
“The expansion bus delayed, I would say, was probably the biggest impact for riders in that it means that we have to delay putting in service improvements that we would have relied on those new buses to be able to provide,” Paleczny said.
The LTC will meet to discuss the budget increase Wednesday night at 5 p.m.