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OC Transpo ridership remains half of pre-pandemic levels, up from 2021

October's revenue represented a 44 per cent increase compared to the same month in 2021, but still falls well below the $17.5 million forecasted in the 2022 budget.
20210515_oc transpo bus route
OC Transpo bus. / CityNews Ottawa

An OC Transpo memo to City Council reports that ridership in October was still only 58 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, and lower than the prior month.

The memo, a regular report on ridership and revenue shared with city council, shows 5.6 million customer trips were made in October, down from 5.7 million in September, the highest figure since March 2020.

According to the report, lower ridership in October can be attributed to both Carleton Univeristy and uOttawa having their reading weeks that month. Fewer trips by university students does not affect revenue as university passes are prepaid for the entire semester.

Regardless, the month of October saw lower revenues of $11.7 million from the transit service's conventional bus and O-Train ridership, compared to $11.8 million in September.

October's revenue represented a 44 per cent increase compared to the same month in 2021, but it still falls well below the $17.5 million forecasted in the 2022 budget.

In September, OC Transpo projected a deficit of more than $85 million by the end of 2022. On Dec. 7, the Ford government announced Phase 4 of the Safe Restart Agreement will provide Ottawa with more than $63 million intended to cover revenue losses.

"The City of Ottawa thanks the provincial and federal governments for this much-needed funding," stated Mayor Mark Sutcliffe in a prepared statement. "This funding is an important step towards supporting OC Transpo’s ongoing operational needs as we remain committed to providing vitally-needed transit services to our communities."

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