OC Transpo still short tens of millions from COVID-19 impact
An OC Transpo bus rolls through downtown Ottawa, Thursday April 16, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- The OC Transpo COVID-19 numbers have been crunched and they show the city's transit system running on red ink.
The buses and the new Confederation Line trains kept running since March but tens of thousands of customers who rely on OC Transpo every day were home in quarantine. According to a report by the city's Chief Financial Officer, the COVID-19 Transit deficit is estimated at $123.7 million. Of that, fare revenues were down by more than $117 million. There was also a a cost of $17 million to keep buses clean and for items such as masks and shields to protect both drivers and passengers from COVID-19.
The city has been given notice it will receive some of that funding from the Federal Safe Restart Fund.
The report reads:
"Phase 1 funding of $74.98 million is less than the City’s forecast transit pressures of $123.7 million to the end of December 2020. Estimated pressures to the end of March 31, 2021 have not been developed yet; but will be, as part of the application for additional funding through Phase 2. The report back to the Province at the end of October will support the need for additional funding in advance of Phase 2 reporting and confirmation of the additional funding amount is to be provided by December 31, 2020."
So, the city is counting on a Phase 2 funding program to keep OC Transpo books in order. In another measure, 19 capital projects will be deferred until 2021. That won’t affect construction of Stage 2 LRT or repairs on the Confederation Line.