BC Transit has reached reached a milestone in returning to pre-pandemic ridership levels.
Following over three years of declining ridership resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, BC Transit says it has witnessed a consistent uptick and is presently undergoing a resurgence of ridership across the entire province to levels akin to those before the pandemic.
“BC Transit is one of the first agencies in North America to reach this ridership recovery milestone following the pandemic and BC Transit staff deserve a huge amount of credit for all their hard work and dedication in difficult and uncertain circumstances,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Our government provided emergency funding to help our transit providers through the COVID-19 pandemic and avoid any service or transit staff cuts. This investment is now paying a big dividend for public transit as ridership numbers bounce back and keep expanding. Our commitment, then and now, is to continue to provide robust, affordable and convenient transit options for people.”
The pandemic shook public transportation systems globally, and BC Transit was no exception. At its lowest point in spring 2020, only 20% of the pre-pandemic crowd hopped on board.
But since then, more and more people have been dusting off their transit passes and returning to the familiar comfort of the public transit system.
“This is a huge accomplishment, and we thank all our customers for their ongoing support of public transit,” said Erinn Pinkerton, President and Chief Executive Officer for BC Transit.
“I’m also grateful for the dedication of our drivers, mechanics and all other transit employees who have worked tirelessly to provide an essential service for our customers. We also share this milestone with our operating and local government partners who have worked with us and showed their ongoing commitment to providing safe and reliable public transportation.”
Throughout September, BC Transit has maintained ridership at 100% of pre-pandemic levels across the 57 transit systems it serves. For instance, during the work week of September 11th to 15th, BC Transit recorded 226,764 riders. Comparatively, during the same work week in 2019, the organization reported 226,106 riders.
Some BC Transit systems, including the Central Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, and the Comox Valley, have seen ridership surge even higher, exceeding 120% of pre-pandemic levels.
Behind the scenes, financial support has played a crucial role in BC Transit’s ride to recovery. The Canada-BC Safe Restart Agreement delivered $116.4 million in funding to BC Transit and its local government partners.
Just recently, BC Transit launched a new electronic payment system. The Victoria Regional Transit System is the first branch of BC Transit to pilot the UMO new software.
All buses operating within Greater Victoria have been outfitted with a scanner machine to allow for contactless payments which allows bus-goers to pay for their bus ride on the free Umo app via their Apple or Android smartphone or a reloadable Umo payment card.