Go Transit reducing service as ridership plummets back to early 2020 levels

Metrolinx said Tuesday that it is further reducing service levels on GO Transit as ridership plummets back down to levels not seen since early on in the pandemic.

With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading like wildfire, the provincial transit agency said, ridership is currently down by around 90 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

While ridership rebounded somewhat this past summer and fall, it began to drop off sharply toward the end of 2021.

“A recent 15 per cent reduction in services did not adequately address the impact of the latest wave of the virus, which interrupted what was looking like a slow return to some travel normalcy,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins wrote in a post on the agency’s website Tuesday.

She said that service reductions made this week to deal with a massive winter storm will continue, dropping service levels to about 47 per cent below peak levels in October.

“Simply put, there are far fewer customers using GO Transit buses and trains right now as many return to working from home, post-secondary students study online and events are cancelled or attendance is limited,” Aikins wrote. “The recent storm meant even fewer customers climbed onboard trains and buses.” 

She said customers should expect to see a similar level of service next week, but added that the agency will continue to try and match service levels to ridership.

Aikins noted that the situation is not unique to GO Transit.

The TTC has also been grappling with a major drop in ridership and corresponding revenue and a recent city budget projected that it could take years to return to pre-pandemic levels.

In an interview with CTV News, Aikins advised people to check their schedules for possible changes before heading out.

“Always check our schedules this time of the year, and given that we’ve had to do some reductions in services for a variety of reasons, including Omicron,” Aikins said.

She said those using the service should “make sure you know exactly when your train or your bus is coming because we don’t want you to go into the station and wait longer than you have to.”

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