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Lethbridge Transit seeing ‘encouraging’ ridership trends

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge Transit seeing increased ridership' Lethbridge Transit seeing increased ridership
WATCH: As Lethbridge students went back to school earlier in September, many decided to hop on a city bus to get there. Eloise Therien has more on how the return of the fall post-secondary semester is having an impact on the recovery of public transit.

With school back in session for thousands of post-secondary students, Lethbridge Transit is reporting a substantial jump in ridership compared to the last couple of years.

While it estimates ridership is only around 60 per cent of what it was pre-COVID-19, the city is reporting a steady recovery as it sees the highest weekday ridership levels since the pandemic began.

It’s also been approximately one year since the launch of cityLINK network, a transit redesign that has seen public pushback. 

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge city committee learns more about cityLINK transit system amid mass complaints' Lethbridge city committee learns more about cityLINK transit system amid mass complaints
Lethbridge city committee learns more about cityLINK transit system amid mass complaints – Jan 6, 2022

“The encouraging thing really is the gains that we are making, especially since our service is smaller as a result of cityLINK. We’ve reduced the number of service hours that we’re providing, but are actually seeing increased ridership,” said general manager Tim Sanderson.

During the first full week of school in 2021, there were approximately 4,000 riders per day. In 2022, that number jumped to more than 6,100.

Sanderson said the highest ridership typically occurs the first two weeks of the new school year.

“Then everybody gets into their routine, we start seeing maybe a little bit of an uptake once January comes,” he explained. “It isn’t so much the snow as it is the cold. People are less likely to walk a little bit and more likely to take the bus when it’s cold out.”

Read more: Some Lethbridge residents opt for transit, cycling as cost of driving rises

Brooklyn Pickett, a University of Lethbridge student, has been using public transit in the city for about two years.

“It’s just so much cheaper than buying a car and then also having to pay for the parking here,” Pickett said.

Click to play video: 'Residents voice concern over revamped transit in Lethbridge' Residents voice concern over revamped transit in Lethbridge
Residents voice concern over revamped transit in Lethbridge – Sep 1, 2021

However, the change to the cityLINK system did create some bumps in the road.

“Once you get the hang of it, it’s alright,” Pickett said. “I would recommend it for students. As far as like getting to (work), I’m still trying to get a car for that because riding transit around Lethbridge can be a lot.”

Due to the increase in usage, some minor adjustment are being made by Lethbridge Transit at no cost with the goal of improving the customer experience and ensuring buses arrive on time.

Those include minor changes to 52 Columbia and DRZ 101.

Click to play video: 'Influx of students attending University of Saskatchewan campus causing bus routes to be full' Influx of students attending University of Saskatchewan campus causing bus routes to be full
Influx of students attending University of Saskatchewan campus causing bus routes to be full

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