The city lost much more money than it saved over the course of last winter’s 53-day transit strike, according to the city’s auditor general.
From the first day of the strike on Dec. 11 until full service resumed on March 23, the city saved $21.5 million in wages and fuel costs, but lost $27.4 million in revenues and other expenses, resulting in a $5.9 million shortfall.
Auditor General Alain Lalonde said the tally was an accounting exercise that simply calculated the revenues and expenditures associated with the strike, but did not examine the effectiveness of any strike mitigation efforts.
“We didn’t go further than looking at the numbers and putting the numbers together,” he said. “It is a combination of decreasing revenues, obviously, and increasing costs that were greater than anticipated.”
The total loss of revenue by OC Transpo from lost fares, charter fees and bus advertising totalled $28.1 million. Some of that was offset by increased revenue from Para Transpo ($136,000), parking ($4,000) and parking tickets ($840,000).
By not running any buses for 58 days, OC Transpo saved $17 million in labour costs, $8.8 million in parts, materials and supplies, and $394,000 in outside services, for a total savings of $25.4 million. However, a portion of those savings went towards covering increased Para Transpo services ($517,000) and outside services ($3.3 million), which included distributing $1 million in taxi chits to disadvantaged members of the public.
The city was also stuck with a $855,000 bill for not accepting fuel deliveries during the strike.
Since the strike ended, city treasurer Marian Simulik said the city has adopted a new fuel procurement practice that would avoid this type of penalty in the future.