Skip to content

Transit service in Kamloops rebounding amidst pandemic restrictions

The Kamloops transit system consists of 14 bus routes, three transit exchange hubs and a fleet of 69 vehicles
bc transit 2021 update_city of kamloops

BC Transit service in Kamloops has seen a resurgence in ridership since experiencing a sizeable drop at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to BC Transit there were 11,426 fewer weekly boardings in March 2020, when the pandemic was declared, dropping to 3,955 from 15,381.

Since then, however, ridership has been increasing on Kamloops bus routes, now at about 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels — 10,000 weekly boardings.

Those numbers — along with how the transit system performed through the fiscal year April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, were presented to city council on Feb. 1.

Annual ridership was down 45 per cent that fiscal year, with 2.20-million passenger trips, down from 4.1-million trips in 2019-2020, increasing per passenger operating costs to $5.59 from $3.01 — numbers tabulated by dividing operating costs by total ridership.

The Kamloops transit system also experienced a 30 per cent reduction in revenue in 2020-2021, with $3.1 million coming in compared to $4.5 million the previous year.

City of Kamloops transportation planner Jacob Burnley told council Kamloops’ transit system, however, fared better than similar-sized cities across B.C. during the pandemic.

Burnley told KTW the Kamloops transit system was about 25 per cent better in both average annual ridership and revenue compared to similar-sized transit systems in 2020-2021.

HandyDART service in Kamloops saw a 60 per cent dip in ridership — down from 91,913 annually to 36,761 passengers in 2020-2021, increasing cost per rider to $68.08 from $31.17.

Ridership on that custom transit service, however, also rebounded to 65 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the fall of 2021, with about 4,100 monthly boardings compared to 6,695 at the onset of the pandemic.

Burnley noted the Omicron variant of COVID-19 could impact Kamloops’ recovering transit system, but at this point, ridership remains on a positive trajectory, though he has no estimate for when it may return to 100 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The Kamloops transit system consists of 14 bus routes, three transit exchange hubs and a fleet of 69 vehicles.

Residents willing to walk for better service

Kamloopsians are willing to walk farther, as long as it means a more efficient and reliable bus service.

In a customer survey conducted in February 2021, 70 per cent of 400 Kamloops residents surveyed said they would prefer to walk a bit farther to a bus stop if it meant the bus would arrive more often and get to their destination more quickly.

Of those surveyed, 39 per cent said the have to transfer to a second bus to reach their destination.

Burnley said the report indicates the need to reduce wait times for buses and providing a connected service.

There was a mix of responses on other questions, with 52 per cent of respondents preferring adding transit service in neighbourhoods where demand is still growing and 33 per cent wanting support for increased service on busier, already established routes in Kamloops.