LTC ridership takes major nosedive during pandemic
Londoners wait to board a LTC bus on Monday, April 11, 2016. (Daryl Newcombe / CTV London)
LONDON, ONT -- London Transit ridership continues to plummet amidst the pandemic.
In the early summer, when fares were free, ridership stood at just over 50 per cent of normal level.
Now, with fares reinstated, the chair of the transit commission says situation has not improved.
“It’s not the bounce back we expected,” Phil Squire tells CTV News.
He says the figures are concerning considering the LTC is running almost all of its normal routes.
“If one thinks of that, we’re operating at 90 per cent of what we would normally offer, in terms of routes, but we’re only at 38 per cent of ridership. That is a huge gap!”
A big reason for the drop, Squire says, is the lack of post secondary students using the service.
In a normal year, Western and Fanshawe students crowds city buses.
But, as we all know, the pandemic has forced the vast majority of them to study online, eliminating the need for transit rides.
Squire, who was re-elected to another term as chair of the transit commission Wednesday, says the situation may put every project in temporary limbo, as the organization waits for ridership to improve.
“There are a lot of plans. There’s plans for electric buses, there’s plans for industrial routes, there’s plans for BRT, but, the bottom line is ridership. And when we hope to see a ridership bounce back, I can’t say that to ya.”
Given the reality, the the transit commission, asked for report on an all electric bus fleet to be prepared for June of 2021.
Squire says it will look at options including, whether to start a pilot project or to fully flip the LTC fleet to electric.
But, with cost pressures mounting, he warns all scenarios are in the early stages.
“I would not want to jump to any conclusions right now, as to how it would done, when it would done or even if it can be done, reasonably.”