Edmonton Transit is set to resume regular service by the end of next month.
ETS will be returning to regular bus service on Aug. 30. This means the City of Edmonton will recall operators who were issued temporary layoff notice earlier this year when service was reduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Super excited to get our operators back to work,” Eddie Robar, ETS branch manager, said Tuesday.
Robar said the approximately 450 operators who were issued layoff notice will receive their recall notice on July 31.
LRT service will also be extended back to regular service, which will end at 1:30 a.m. However, LRT service will operate on reduced frequencies throughout the day as a result of ongoing construction at the Stadium LRT Station.
ETS service was reduced in mid-March and fares were suspended for riders. At that time, interim city manager Adam Laughlin said ridership had dropped by about 22 per cent.
By April, transit ridership had dropped by about 75 percent compared to April 2019.
Ridership began to pick up again after Phase 1 of the province’s relaunch began in mid-May. On June 15, ETS resumed collecting transit fares.
Since then, more people have returned to using the service as more businesses have reopened and people have headed back to work. The full resumption of service will come in time for students to head back to school in person in the fall.
“While reducing service was necessary to respond to the pressures of the pandemic, customer feedback since then has indicated a need for more service and better hours for those who solely rely and depend heavily on transit,” Robar said.
Robar said Tuesday that ridership currently sits at around 50 per cent of normal capacity. This is compared to what ridership looked like at this time last year, he explained.
As more people head back to the service, masks will be mandatory on all public transit buses and trains effective Aug. 1.
All buses in the ETS fleet are equipped with a shield to separate the driver from passengers, so the city said operators will not be required to wear a mask while behind the shield.
Robar said regular cleaning of all buses will also continue.
ETS Route 747 to and from the airport will resume effective Aug. 1.
The city also said U-passes will not be issued this fall due to the majority of classes being offered online. The joint decision was made by the city and participating post-secondary institutions.
Earlier Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced a funding boost for municipalities. A large portion of the money was earmarked for Edmonton and Calgary’s transit systems.
Robar said the city is still in the process of diving into exactly how much funding the city will receive and what it will mean for the service.
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