Calgary

Calgary Transit service will be reduced starting April 6

Watch live at 1 p.m. MT as Mayor Naheed Nenshi and CEMA chief Tom Sampson discuss what's happening in the city as of April 1.

Ridership has plunged, finances are stretched and drivers are impacted by pandemic

Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, gives an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, flanked by Mayor Naheed Nenshi. (CBC)

Transit service will be reduced in Calgary as ridership plummets and staffing is affected by the pandemic. 

Starting on April 6, all transit routes will have reduced service, but there will be no routes cut. 

"We know we need to maintain transit as much as possible, but certainly we're not seeing the ridership," said Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

"We know these changes are difficult but they're the right thing to do."

Russell Davies, manager of Calgary Transit, said ridership has dropped by up to 80 per cent.

He said the grace period for low-income and senior travel passes will be extended another month, meaning the March pass will be good through to May. 

City finances

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said transit is a critical service, but that the city's finance are strained. 

"We are losing, early estimates say, $10 and $15 million per week," he said of the city government. 

He said those constraints don't affect only transit, but will reduce the options the city has when it comes to any kind of property tax relief for Calgarians, many of whom have been hit hard by the pandemic.

"We're working hard to get a good solution, particularly around property taxes. We have a lot of constraints that the other levels of government don't have," he said, citing the inability to run a deficit. 

Nenshi said there would be a proposal for discussion at the meeting of council on April 6. 

"We'll have more news on that relatively soon," he said. 

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