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Council approves solutions to help HSR manage high absenteeism and restore service for customers

HAMILTON, ON - November 8, 2017 – Earlier this evening, Hamilton City Council approved a plan that will allow HSR to hire up to 58 additional bus operators to help deal with rising absenteeism and recent service cancellations.

In recent weeks, HSR customers have experienced a spike in cancelled service due to high absenteeism rates among bus operators. While this issue has been building over a number of years, HSR customers experienced a spike in October when previous mitigation strategies were not available.

This evening, Council approved a policy that will allow HSR to exceed the budgeted complement for bus operators by up to 12 per cent, to allow for more flexibility in workforce planning and ensure enough operators are available to run full service every day. This approach will significantly reduce HSR’s reliance on overtime.

HSR is committed to delivering a modern and reliable transit service with a strong customer focus, and providing a safe, reliable and inclusive transportation option for residents.

Quick Facts

  • On November 1, 2017 staff provided Council with an update on the recent rise in HSR service cancellations and the correlated absenteeism issues, along with mitigation strategies.
  • As a short-term solution to mitigating HSR service disruptions, the Ministry of Labour has approved an application that will allow bus operators to work up to 68 hours per week.
  • Since the overtime exemption was approved, cancelled service has dramatically decreased, however this is only a short term mitigation strategy.

“Council has reaffirmed our commitment to delivering a reliable transit system in Hamilton. The steps we’ve taken today will help keep buses on the road and reduce the service cancellations that our community has been experiencing in recent weeks. I want to thank our management team in HSR for reviewing the data and implementing a number of changes that will ultimately benefit both transit riders and operators.” 

Mayor Fred Eisenberger
City of Hamilton


“I’d like to apologize to our customers for the service cancellations they have experienced recently. Please know that ensuring our transit system is reliable for our customers is my top priority. We are taking immediate steps to restore full service and also to plan better to ensure we don’t experience these types of cancellations again in the future.”

Debbie Dalle Vedove
Director of Transit, City of Hamilton