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Coronavirus: Calgary Transit at ‘a turning point,’ moving to ensure fares are paid

Canadian mayors seek billions in federal aide
WATCH (April 23): From lost transit fares, to a drop in property tax revenues, mayors from across Canada say $10 billion needed to pay the bills. Provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon has the details.

Calgary Transit is looking at returning to enforcing the payment of fares.

Transit has been bleeding red ink since the middle of March when self-isolation protocols came into effect.

“We are at a beginning of a turning point where we’re looking at re-instituting, re-focusing a dialogue with customers to ensure that fares are being paid June 1,” Acting Transportation General Manager Doug Morgan said.

He was responding to a question at a city council meeting Monday morning. At a previous meeting, Morgan told council members that Calgary Transit could face a potential loss of $89 million in revenue this year.

READ MORE: Calgary not planning enforcement of COVID-19 emergency orders; temporary layoffs coming

“We’ll restart some of our revenue programs that we had suspended during the COVID(-19) response in order to do as much as we can to ensure our revenue streams are protected,” Morgan said.

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He added Calgary Transit is talking with other cities across the country on what steps they’re taking to address a similar problem.

City of Calgary lays off over 400 transit employees during COVID-19 pandemic
City of Calgary lays off over 400 transit employees during COVID-19 pandemic

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city did not stop charging fares but Calgary Transit has been operating on the honour system.

“Once we start boarding from the front door again and return to slightly more normal operation, we will see an increase in the fare collection but it’s not going to be nearly enough.

“We have to wait for the ridership to come back.”

While there are still 100,000 riders a day using Calgary Transit, there has been a dramatic drop in ridership — a 92 per cent reduction in C-Train riders and an 80 per cent drop in people taking the bus.

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READ MORE: Calgary Transit to start asking people to board buses at rear door due to COVID-19

Calgary Transit says it is losing $13 million a week in revenue.

All-door boarding is expected to resume on July 1. Passengers have been entering buses from the back door and a sign on the vehicles say that cash payments are not accepted.