Further cuts to Okanagan transit services on the horizon and COVID-19 further impacts revenues - InfoNews

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Further cuts to Okanagan transit services on the horizon and COVID-19 further impacts revenues

Image Credit: Kelowna.ca
April 22, 2020 - 7:30 AM

Bus service in the Okanagan may be further reduced in the days ahead, the president of the local transit union says.

Earlier this month, Kelowna Transit moved to its summer schedule, which meant service reductions and schedule changes three months ahead of schedule, Al Peressini, president of the local branch of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said.

Because of COVID 19, other changes, such as no longer collecting fares, rear door loading, limiting passenger capacity to support physical distancing also rolled out.

Now, Peressini said, he’s had word that further reductions are likely on the horizon as a means to cut costs.

“We’ve all seen what’s happening with TransLink and that’s our fear that it may be trickling here,” he said, adding that with no money being collected the service is making no money.

“We will know in the next day or so if it will get cut back more.”

While service may be cut back to cut costs, Peressini said there’s been ample use.

“I am a driver as well and I drive one of the busier routes out of Rutland,” he said. “We have more and more people on the bus … some people need to work and rely on the transit system to get to their jobs.”

TransLink, the transit service out of the Lower Mainland, indicated last week that with plunging ridership, loss of farebox revenue and fuel tax income, it is losing about $2.5 million per day, and it is expected that April’s revenue will be down $70 million, or 51 per cent, from what was forecasted earlier this year.

The average monthly loss for the next six months is projected to be $75 million, with the worst-case scenario being losses of $93 million per month.

As a result almost 1,500 temporary layoffs will take place at TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company and B.C. Rapid Transit Company, with the bus company again feeling the effects most because more than half of the transit system’s employees work there.

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