Nov 24, 2008

Record setting transit ridership

With gas prices at their lowest in years, some public transit advocates are concerned that the record-setting ridership figures tallied across Canada in recent months could dwindle quickly if transit services aren't up to snuff. A Statistics Canada report, released Thursday, reported that 131.9 million public transit trips were made aboard city buses, subways, streetcars and light rail in 10 major urban centres in September, up from 126.6 million a year earlier,' Canwest News Service reported on Nov. 20.

'It was the highest total recorded since Statistics Canada first began recording monthly transit ridership in January 2003. The second-highest ridership reported was in March 2007, when 129.9 million passenger trips were reported.

'We were predicting (the start of the school year) would be important, but that's a seasonal trend,' Transport 2000's David Jeanes said. 'What's piled on top of that is the massive shift to transit that resulted from fuel-price increases in the summer.' But, he warned, with the current decline in fuel prices, 'we don't know if this will continue. People do change their habits fairly quickly based on gas prices. People tend to be reluctant to switch to transit until the price gets very high, but once they switch to transit, whether they switch back when the (gas) price goes down depends on the quality of transit they had.'

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