Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Assessing Trends and Patterns of the Effect of COVID-19 on Public Transit Revenues in the City of Calgary

Wenshuang, Yu and Lindsay M., Tedds and Gillian, Petit (2022): Assessing Trends and Patterns of the Effect of COVID-19 on Public Transit Revenues in the City of Calgary.

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Using monthly public transit revenue data from January 2015 to December 2021, we investigate the effect of COVID-19 on public transit revenues in the large urban municipality of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. We find that revenue from transit fares dropped immediately and significantly after the declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020 for all transit fare types. While revenues began to slowly recover, nearly two years following the state of emergency transit fare revenue continue to be significantly lower than then the pre-pandemic baseline in most cases. Only revenues from transit fares for school-aged children and low-income persons have recovered to the pre-pandemic baseline, suggesting these groups are relatively more dependent on public transit compared to non-low-income, adult users. With revenues from transit fares continuing to be 60% below the pre-pandemic baseline, replacing this lost revenue is essential to maintaining service standards for those dependent on public transit. However, there are no simple answers to this problem given the ongoing shock to adult ridership. Over the short term, transit will need increased support from other revenues sources such as local property taxes or transfers from higher orders of government. Over the longer-term, the City of Calgary will need to weigh the trade-offs from pursuing fare increases, lowering service standards, and/or expansion of services to serve more riders with objectives such as addressing climate change, labour mobility, and accessibility.

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