Kimberley city council received the 2020 ridership update for transit services, a year very much affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Manager of Planning Services Troy Pollock says that there was a 34 per cent reduction in ridership.
Overall ridership on all Kimberley Transit services started strong in 2020 with higher than ever ridership in January and February, his report said. However this trend changed quickly in March with the onset of COVID and province-wide measures to protect health and safety of employees and riders. Ridership began to rebound in May and steadily increased throughout the year but by the end of December Transit experienced a 34 per cent decrease in total annual ridership compared to 2019.
All routes showed some drop in riders. The Health Connections route was down 31 per cent, the KC Commuter down 34 per cent. Both of these routes had been seeing increased numbers before the pandemic began.
In April 2019, Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue expansion of the winter shuttle service subject to provincial funding approval. The proposed expansion involves a 50 per cent increase in hours, the shuttle service has always operated at a maximum of 440 hours per season. The expanded service was to take effect in December 2020 if approved in provincial budget decisions however BC Transit has postponed all planned expansion due to COVID considerations. The earliest potential date for the planned expansion to take effect is next season beginning December 2021.
There were some bright spots, Pollock said. Since Transit was up and running again after a shut down in the spring, there has been a steady increase in ridership.
“Hopefully we will see ridership back to where it was,” he said.
He also offered kudos to all the drivers and staff at Kimberley Transit for all the extra work they put in during the pandemic.