Transit users should expect more of the same heading into the winter after Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors voted unanimously at committee to keep service levels at 80 per cent of the budgeted amount.
Ridership remains less than half of pre-pandemic levels, averaging about 22,000 rides per month since June, according to a staff report from an Oct. 15 SCRD infrastructure services committee meeting.
Staff recommended keeping the levels reduced since they don’t expect demand to increase much in the coming months, and even if it did, the buses have the capacity to safely absorb the increase, the report said.
Staff also noted an increase wasn’t apparent with the start of the school year. “Obviously, people’s transportation behaviour has changed, at least for now,” said Elphinstone director Donna McMahon.
Because of the interregnum it’s still unclear how much the Sunshine Coast transit system is expected to receive from the $86 million in joint federal and provincial funding allocated to BC Transit, announced in September.
An update on the financial state of Sunshine Coast’s transit system is expected after the B.C. election and before the end of the year.
Staff also noted it’s been challenging to hire new drivers, and several have retired or reduced their shifts since the pandemic started, so if demand did spike, “staff would be challenged to find sufficient drivers to fill the shifts without incurring significant additional costs due to overtime.”