Lethbridge Transit officials says the expected bump in ridership with students returning to class is much higher than anticipated, with year over year rider usage far surpassing the numbers recorded in 2021.
According to city data, they’ve averaged 6,126 riders a week since schools kicked off earlier this month, up from just 4,008 in 2021 and 3,042 in 2020. Transit General Manager Tim Sanderson says the traditional ridership bump aside, staff are encouraged to see full buses drive around the city again. He adds that the latest service changes could also have something to do with the jump in ridership.
“Obviously, we see an uptick in ridership at the start of school… but coming off of COVID-19, the professors strike, and really just having everyone back at school and seeing this big bump and welcoming them back on our vehicles,” he says.
“As a result of CityLink, we’ve reduced the number of service hours we are providing, but we are actually seeing increased ridership and seeing better gains than we anticipated.” Back when we were projecting our ridership increases and recovery, we were expecting to be considerably less than where we are now. The community and the students especially have responded much better than we anticipated,” he adds.
Sanderson is hopeful that the jump in riders can be sustained, but admits they face unique challenges when it comes to continuing the trend.
“It’s more than just the transit provision, I think what we’ve done and what we will continue to do is adjust service levels to best meet the needs of the community.”
“But, the world is a different place post COVID-19; there are a lot of people still working from home and that may continue, and a lot of those people working from home [could be] people who had transportation challenges pre-pandemic as well so are less likely to go back if they have a choice,” he adds.