OTTAWA -- OC Transpo recorded an $8 million deficit in the first quarter of 2020 as ridership plummeted in the second half of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, the service incurred higher staffing costs because of ongoing problems with the LRT system.

OC Transpo’s quarterly results are detailed in a report tabled with the city’s transit commission.

“The fare revenue shortfall was due primarily to a reduced number of single-ride fares paid by customers in the second half of March, as the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic began,” the report says.

OC Transpo’s second quarter numbers are expected to be much more dire, as ridership has plummeted by 70 to 90 per cent since the pandemic began.

In late April, city treasurer Wendy Stephanson told council that OC Transpo faced a $45 million deficit if the pandemic measures remained in place until the end of June, and $84 million if they remained until the end of September.

Before the COVID-19 lockdown began in March, the service was incurring higher staffing costs due to ongoing problems with the LRT service and the new bus route network introduced after light rail launched.

“Costs are higher due to increased staffing costs for service reliability following public feedback about the new route network that was introduced in October as well as S1 bus service that was introduced in early January when there was an insufficient number of trains to meet regular service levels between Tunney’s, Hurdman, and Downtown,” the report said.