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Calgary Transit cuts seats, frequency to deal with plummeting ridership during COVID-19

Plummeting bus and train ridership due to the coronavirus has forced Calgary Transit to take several measures that will impact service across the city.

Beginning April 6, dozens of bus routes will see a reduction in frequency due to the drop in ridership. In Wednesday’s COVID-19 city briefing, they said across Calgary, transit ridership has plunged 80 per cent.

“We’ve seen a fairly significant decrease in ridership on Calgary Transit,” said Fleet Manager, GM Russell Davies.

“That’s obviously not a level of service that we can sustain.”

The city did say Wednesday that Calgary Transit low-income pass holders don’t need to worry about new passes as their current one will be honoured through May.

Davies said Calgarians should still be able to get where they need to go, but they may have to wait a little longer before a ride pops by one of the stops.

On March 30, Calgary Transit also rolled out changes to the frequency of CTrain service.

Distancing measures, seat reductions

Davies also said that commuters would begin seeing a thinning out of available spaces on Calgary Transit buses. They’ll be reducing seats by roughly 50 per cent on each unit, Davies said, to help promote physical distancing.

With ridership down, it’s an easier measure to implement, and signage will be posted on city buses to remind riders to increase their physical distancing on transit.

“We do expect people to take some responsibility when they see a double seat – try and just have one person in that double seat,” Davies said.

It’s yet another reminder for people to maintain that two metre distance between each other to adhere to public health guidelines.

“This is a critical service for many of our neighbours,” said Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.

“It is a service that people need. Many of our essential workers are working hospitals, the grocery store, require it in order to get to work.”

According to the new city guidelines, if a bus reaches its new rider capacity, drivers will not make further stops to board passengers. Those not able to board, will have to wait for the next bus, the city said.

Relief on reserved parking stalls

There are more than 3,000 reserved parking stalls at Calgary Transit park and ride lots around the city and Davies said those not using these spots won’t lose their space if they aren’t able to pay.

“For people that are not using their reserved parking stall right now, they will retain their position on the list; they will not lose their parking spot if they don’t use it,” he said.

He there’s still an expectation for those who are using the reserved spots and are taking transit to their place of work, that they also continue to pay.