News / Ottawa

Ridership up but revenue down, OC Transpo staff say

More people are taking transit in Ottawa, but they're opting for cheaper monthly passes.

Cheaper fare options like monthly passes are behind a drop in revenue, staff say.

Metro file

Cheaper fare options like monthly passes are behind a drop in revenue, staff say.

More people are taking transit, but they’re paying OC Transpo less.

Transportation general manager John Manconi confirmed Wednesday that ridership in the first six months of 2016 enjoyed a slight bump over 2015.

But with more people choosing cheaper monthly passes instead of single-ride fares, the transit operator actually pulled in less money per person than predicted.

According to a mid-year budget update tabled Wednesday, OC Transpo had a revenue shortfall of $2.7 million by June 30, which is expected to grow to $4.2 million by the end of the year.

Those losses will be offset by savings of $7.5 million, largely thanks to lower diesel and compensation costs.

Ridership has stagnated at about 97 million passenger trips since 2013, after a sudden drop from a high of 103 million trips in 2011.

Systems manager Pat Scrimgeour said ridership during the most recent 12 months was higher than in 2014.

But Manconi said OC Transpo is “being cautious” about the slight uptick, noting it’s not nearly high enough to start predicting huge revenue boosts.

Regular monthly passes and discount rates for seniors, students and people on disability are all subsidized, and it’s difficult to predict how many people will opt for those options over the more expensive cash fares, Manconi said.