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OC Transpo hoping federal 3-day return-to-office mandate will boost adult pass sales

An OC Transpo user paying for a transit fare. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa) An OC Transpo user paying for a transit fare. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)
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Sales of adult monthly transit passes for OC Transpo remain well below pre-pandemic levels, but transit staff are hoping government workers heading back to the office more often will help.

A staff report at Thursday's Transit Commission meeting showed sales of adult passes so far in 2024 are at just 32 per cent of where they were at this time in 2019. Ridership remains below forecast levels as well. Transit Commission heard that ridership from January to May was 6.6 per cent lower than predicted, at 29.4 million trips. Staff said return to on-site work has been lower than expected, but staff said the federal government's new three-day in-office mandate starting in September could boost ridership and pass sales.

All other pass types combined are at 99 per cent of pre-pandemic sales levels. Other pass types include discounted passes such as youth, senior, community, access, and EquiPass.

OC Transpo now allows riders to tap credit and debit cards on fare readers instead of using a Presto card, capping monthly fares at the price of an adult pass. Staff reported that there are up to 10,000 "O-Payment" taps per day, and OC Transpo should see its one millionth tap this month.

A monthly adult pass currently costs $128.75. In 2019, monthly passes cost $116 from January through September and $119.50 from Oct. 1.

Ridership levels on OC Transpo have consistently remained below forecast this year, but are up overall compared to 2023. There were 27.1 million trips in the first five months of 2023.

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