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Transit Systems Explore Ways to Grow Ridership

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) discusses their fare recovery strategy to revitalize Canadian public transit, addressing pandemic challenges and driving ridership growth.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) recently released a comprehensive fare recovery strategy designed to boost public transit ridership and revenue. Recognizing the profound impact of the pandemic on transit ridership across Canada, CUTA acknowledges the financial strain placed on transit agencies due to the loss of farebox revenue. Despite ongoing challenges, transit ridership has shown signs of recovery, and is standing at approximately 75.5 per cent of pre-pandemic levels nationally as of April.

Public transit agencies have the challenging task of addressing the need to expand capacity to accommodate Canada’s growing population, which now stands at 40 million, while operating with reduced farebox revenue. Add to this, the need to provide current riders with the frequent, reliable, and affordable service that they depend on.

Transit agencies are actively exploring innovative strategies to build ridership and revenue, aiming to reach and eventually surpass pre-pandemic levels. This can help stave off service cuts that can dissuade riders and jeopardize the overall financial stability of transit agencies.

According to Marco D’Angelo, CUTA’s President and CEO, there has been a noticeable shift in travel behavior, particularly with the emergence of hybrid work and increased ridership outside of the traditional weekday peak periods. Transit agencies have a unique opportunity to adapt and respond to the evolving needs of commuters.

CUTA’s comprehensive fare recovery strategy outlines 12 fare products, strategically addressing three key challenges faced by transit agencies: adapting to changes in travel patterns, recapturing lost ridership, and attracting 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’s fare recovery strategy explores these innovative fare products and carefully considers their potential to generate 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.

Read the strategy at

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