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Kelowna transit ridership drops dramatically during COVID-19 pandemic: report

Kelowna transit use has dropped off dramatically during the pandemic.
Kelowna transit use has dropped off dramatically during the pandemic. File / Global News

Transit ridership in Kelowna dropped off “sharply” due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent City of Kelowna staff report.

The biggest decrease was in the second week of April, when the staff report said transit trips were down almost 73 per cent compared to the same week in 2019.

Read more: Coronavirus: BC Transit making more changes to stop spread of virus

The latest data, from the start of July, shows transit use has rebounded somewhat.

At that point, the report said passenger numbers were down 40 per cent from the year before.

BC Transit installing barriers to protect drivers from assault
BC Transit installing barriers to protect drivers from assault

However, the report predicts demand will not be back to where it was before the pandemic anytime soon, and that ridership will be down in the fall as many post-secondary students are expected to be attending classes online.

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The major drop in passenger numbers is expected to contribute to a multi-million dollar financial hit to the city’s transit service.

Read more: BC Transit installing barriers to protect drivers from assault

The staff report is predicting revenue losses of $3.2 million by the end of the year, due to the drop in demand and a period when BC Transit wasn’t collecting fares during the initial pandemic response.

Officials have responded by cutting transit service hours, but that will only partially make up for the revenue loss.

There is money in reserves to make up the shortfall. However, the report said covering the total amount with those savings could leave the city short in the future.