Canadian transit ridership dropped more than 70 per cent in February compared to 2020: StatCan

People are shoulder to shoulder inside a city bus while commuting at rush hour during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday, October 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canada's public transit systems experienced a steep year-over-year decline in ridership as a second wave of COVID-19 washed over the country in February.

New data released by Statistics Canada shows 45.8 million passenger trips were taken on Canada's public transit systems in February, a 71.5 per cent drop from February 2020 levels. This followed an even sharper drop of 73.8 per cent in January, marking the 12th straight month of ridership declines.

According to the latest urban public transit report, monthly ridership actually increased in February, up 6.8 per cent from January, after stay-at-home orders were lifted in some regions of Quebec and Ontario. Those provinces accounted for about two-thirds of the monthly increase.

However, Statistics Canada notes there is little expectation for growth in passenger trips in the coming months as new restrictions are put in place across the country as provinces grapple with a gruelling third wave of the virus.

The report notes that ridership declines have had a significant impact on transit agency finances.

Total operating revenues, excluding subsidies, decreased 68.7 per cent, or $239.4 million, from February 2020 levels.