Kelowna Transit significantly decreasing September 6

BC Transit

The City of Kelowna could potentially lose up to $3.2 million in transit revenue by the end of the year, a 43% reduction from 2019 levels.

A report to council on Monday showed ridership in Kelowna is currently at 60% compared to last July and an anticipated drop in student ridership demand this fall as post-secondary classes move online.

“UBCO and Okanagan College have decided to offer virtually all of their classes online in the coming year. The number of campus offerings and student housing on campus at UBCO is also severely restricted. This will have a significant impact on ridership demand this fall and winter,” said City Transit and Programs Manager Jerry Dombowsky.

Dombowsky said mandated provincial actions, closures and recent exposure events have all contributed to a dramatic drop in ridership.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its response has had two impacts on transit revenue. One, fair revenue loss from mandated rear door boarding and forced suspension of fair collection, which was that March 20th to June 1st 9-week period and secondly, fair revenue loss from severe ridership declines,” said Dombowsky.

He explained to council that the city will mitigate losses by saving an estimated $681,000 in operating costs and applying for financial support both federally and provincially.

At Monday’s meeting, council passed a motion to return transit service to spring levels beginning September 6th, which will remain in place until at least the end of December at which time service levels could be adjusted should conditions change.

“This is that mid-level of service that will result in a reduction of 9,494 service hours, as compared to the fall service level that we would normally be in,” said Dombowsky, adding that it will reduce city costs by $490,000.

A 950-hour expansion planned for this fall is also cancelled, allowing the City to avoid this added expense going forward.