Milton Transit ridership numbers slowly inching back toward pre-pandemic levels


Published March 2, 2023 at 3:43 pm

It’s been nearly three years since ridership of Milton Transit cratered thanks to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but an upcoming report to Milton council shows things are getting back to normal.

The report, put together by Town staff, says transit staff implemented a multi-pronged delivery approach in 2022 to mitigate financial impacts associated with COVID-19.

Service objectives included maintaining service levels on key transit routes and corridors, rightsizing service with Alternative Service Deliveries (ASDs), Milton Transit OnDemand, and adding capacity, when/where necessary, to manage peak demand.

According to the report, ridership recovery has been incremental and prolonged due to shifting travel behaviour and associated factors. Annual 2022 ridership averaged 54% of pre-pandemic levels, although 76 per cent by year-end, and already reached 81 per cent in January 2023.

Comparing 2022 to 2021, annual ridership has increased by 154 per cent on conventional (fixed-route) and OnDemand services, with 328,742 total revenue passenger trips, and increased by 91 per cent on specialized services with 15,177 total revenue passenger trips.

Other factors that drove the 2022 financial performance were increased fuel costs and inflationary contract costs.

Compared to pre-pandemic levels, revenue losses in 2022 were about $780,000, which has been partially offset by Safe Restart Agreement funding of $375,355.

Among the projects on the 2023 list of strategic initiatives are:

  • Transit Service Review and Master Plan Update
  • Transit Electrification Feasibility Strategy and Fleet Transition Roadmap
  • Diesel-to-Battery Electric Bus (BEB) Conversion Pilot Project
  • Procurement of Transit Fleet (growth-related)
  • Fall Service Planning and Annual Transit Accessibility Plan
  • Transit Garage Facility

“As ridership continues to recover from the pandemic, revenue losses in transit continue to be experienced relative to pre-pandemic levels,” says the report’s conclusion.

“However, ongoing internal mitigation, coupled with the continued federal/provincial funding allocated, resulted in the net cost of transit services being slightly favourable to budget for 2022.”

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