Edmonton bus transit ridership recovers to 100% of pre-pandemic normal levels

Feb 10 2023, 10:11 pm

Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) has reached a major ridership recovery milestone, and it is one of the first major public transit authorities in Canada to achieve this rate of recovery, if not the first.

The City of Edmonton announced today it recorded 100% of 2019 pre-pandemic levels in January 2023, when ridership averaged about 1.2 million boardings per week.

This is up from the pandemic-time low of 350,000 boardings per week or 30% of normal volumes in 2020, and 700,000 boardings per week or 62% of normal in January 2022.

“I’m very proud that Edmonton is among the country’s leaders in bus ridership recovery. This is an important achievement and sets us on a strong path towards full ridership recovery,” said Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, branch manager of ETS, in a statement.

“Although there may be ridership fluctuations in the months ahead, these figures are very encouraging.”

ETS credits its bus ridership recovery to its ability to provide full-service levels throughout the years-long pandemic, improving accessibility, adding on-demand transit service, creating a high-frequency corridor bus service following a bus network redesign, and the November 2022 rollout of the Arc fare payment system to adults and students with U-Pass.

More improvements will be made to bus services throughout 2023, including moving some off-peak bus service hours to more service outside of peak morning and afternoon hours, increasing on-demand transit service, expanding Arc to more groups, and hiring more Transit Peace Officers to improve passenger safety.

Ridership on the Edmonton LRT is still behind 2019 levels, but ETS says it has seen consistent upward trends. Currently, LRT ridership is hovering at 60% to 70% of pre-pandemic levels.

In contrast, TransLink, the public transit authority for Metro Vancouver, recorded a ridership rebound of 84% for its bus services in December 2022. It also saw recoveries of 81% for SkyTrain Expo/Millennium lines, 75% for SeaBus ferries, 74% for SkyTrain Canada Line, 74% for HandyDART, and 43% for West Coast Express commuter rail. TransLink’s overall ridership recovery now hovers at 82% of pre-pandemic levels, and it was the first major system in Canada and the United States to reach and sustain a recovery of 80%.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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