Transit systems explore ways to re-attract riders after pandemic losses

Published June 5, 2023.

TORONTO, JUNE 5, 2023 – The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) released a comprehensive fare recovery strategy designed to boost public transit ridership and revenue. The strategy provides transit agencies with innovative fare products and options to address the changing travel patterns and preferences of commuters.

The pandemic had a profound impact on public transit ridership in Canada, resulting in financial pressure on transit agencies due to lost farebox revenue. Transit ridership continues to recover and now stands at roughly 73 percent of prepandemic levels.

To alleviate the strain of reduced farebox revenue, transit agencies are exploring new strategies to bring ridership and revenue back to pre-pandemic levels. This will help stave off potential fare hikes or service cuts that could deter riders and jeopardize the financial stability of transit agencies.

“We’ve seen shifts in travel behavior, such as the rise of hybrid work and increased ridership outside traditional weekday peak periods,” said Marco D’Angelo, CUTA’s President and CEO. “Transit agencies have a unique opportunity to adapt and respond to the changing needs of commuters.”

CUTA’s fare recovery strategy outlines 12 fare products that address three key challenges faced by transit agencies – responding to changes in travel patterns, recapturing lost riders, and reattracting new riders.

Among the fare products presented are flat fare structures, peak/off-peak pricing, revised transfer structures, fare capping, loyalty programs, smartcards, promotional fares, fare payment apps, new/revised concession programs, distance/zone-based products, group fare products, and even the possibility of free transit through public subsidies.

CUTA encourages transit agencies to explore these fare products and consider their potential to recover revenue. The strategy is intended to empower transit agencies to adapt to the evolving transportation landscape, rebuild ridership, and ensure the long-term viability of public transit in Canada.

Learn more about CUTA’s fare recovery strategy.


Media contact:

Jon MacMull
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
[email protected]