Fewer bus driver layoffs expected when Confederation Line opens

Fewer bus driver layoffs expected when Confederation Line opens

OC Transpo won't have to lay off as many bus drivers as they initially thought after the LRT system's Confederation Line opens in November, transportation general manager John Manconi said Wednesday.

Originally, Manconi estimated the department would need to give notice to 600 bus operators when the trains start to roll.

Now that number is closer to 425.

"We're doing a delicate balancing act in trying to minimize the number of layoffs we're doing," Manconi told the transit commission.

The city estimates light rail will take about 170 to 180 buses off the road. One light rail train carries the same number of passengers as eight articulated buses. That means fewer operators, maintenance and support staff will be needed.

Fewer drivers in the meantime

The city is trying to keep people in jobs by not filling vacancies as people quit or retire. But the work still needs to get done, which could drive up overtime, Manconi said.

"With good work schedules, some give and take with the union, and employees who have stepped up and taken extra shifts, they've covered off that work," he said.

Already, in the first quarter of 2018, drivers have used 31 per cent of the budgeted overtime for the year.

Still, Manconi said it won't affect their bottom line too much because the city isn't paying benefits for the unfilled vacancies. And despite the extra overtime, OC Transpo has amassed a $1-million surplus so far this year thanks to the unfilled vacancies.

The city won't say when the layoff notices will be issued, or whether layoffs will happen according to seniority.

In a memo to council last year, Manconi said all drivers hired since 2015 have been told fewer operators will be needed by 2018.