Due to an anticipated drop in student ridership and the current climate surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Kelowna announced on July 27 that the city’s transit system will be operating at a spring level of service starting Sept. 6 until the end of December.
“UBCO and Okanagan College have decided to offer virtually all of their classes online in the coming year. The number of offering 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 Jerry Dombowsky, the city’s transit and programs manager.
The move to a spring level of service – which is typically in place from May to July — will result in a reduction of 9,494 service hours in comparison to the standard fall level of service, according to Dombowsky.
However, that’s still a sufficient level to support the middle and high school student ridership that is still on regular session, he said.
The change in service will reduce operating costs by about $920,000, of which about $490,000 is the city’s share. Additionally, the city’s 950-hour fall expansion plan has also been deferred.
The total savings from service reductions and efficiencies, plus the deferred expansion, is estimated at $1.28 million or $681,000 local share, said Dombowsky.
While the beginning of July saw ridership levels recover to 60 per cent of levels observed during the same week of 2019, Dombowsky added that total revenue losses are projected to potentially reach $3.2 million by the end of the year — about a 43 per cent deduction from 2019 levels.
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