Calgary

Calgary slashes about 30% of transit service hours amidst pandemic

Calgary officials are scheduled to provide an update this afternoon on the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CBC News will carry that press conference live.

Ridership has declined by around 90% due to COVID-19

An additional 430 employees working for Calgary Transit will be laid off due to the pandemic. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The City of Calgary will lay off another 430 workers in its transit department, citing a significant reduction in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The impacts of COVID-19 have required us to take significant steps," said David Duckworth, Calgary's city manager, during a press conference on Thursday.

Ridership on Calgary Transit is down almost 90 per cent amidst the pandemic, Duckworth said, though the service is still seeing approximately 100,000 riders per day.

The cuts represent about a 30 per cent reduction in the city's transit service hours from March 2020 levels.

"I've been talking for some time about our transit operators being real heroes in our community," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. "They're going to work every single day to make sure people can still get around.

"But Calgary, like every city in Canada, has seen a drastic reduction in ridership."

Around two-thirds of the layoffs will affect transit operators, while the rest will impact maintenance staff and other positions. All told, the layoffs are expected to save approximately $2 million per week.

Twenty-five routes will be discontinued as part of the cuts. Thirty routes will see reduced frequency on weekdays, while 19 routes will see reduced frequency on weekends.

Information on what routes will see changes will be posted on Calgary Transit's website sometime next week. The changes are set to take effect on May 25.

Calgary Transit director Doug Morgan said those route changes will be spread throughout the city. The rehiring of affected workers will depend on the specifics of recovery and when ridership returns.

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