Cornwall Transit fare increase coming in May

In this February 2016, file photo, Cornwall Transit manager Len Tapp makes a presentation to the Cornwall budget committee. The city bus system, hurting for revenue since the coronavirus pandemic, is planning for a fare increase in May 2021. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

Update 3:28 p.m. Tuesday: Cornwall Transit fare hike will affect non-cash payers

CORNWALL – Cornwall Transit is planning a “modest” fare increase for riders, starting in May.

But some users of the system may not notice it when they wave their credit or debit card because the city is also installing electronic fareboxes as part of its capital plan for 2021.

The city’s budget doesn’t exactly say how much the increase will be but Cornwall Transit Manager Len Tapp may spell it out when he presents his budget in more detail this afternoon (Feb. 1) during the city budget meeting.

The system has been hurting since the pandemic with ridership down an estimated 56 per cent in 2020 compared to pre-coronavirus riding trends.

It’s not expected to recover this year either.

With no fares or reduced fares during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the transit system brought in just over $2.8 million in revenue to the end of November 2020. It had budgeted for $3.4 million last year. In 2019, there was just over $3.2 million in revenue.

It’s expected to cost $6.2 million to run the city bus system this year, a 5.4 per cent increase from 2020.

There are $2.5 million in capital plans, including the purchase of new buses, bus shelters, a surveillance system and a garage addition. They are funded from either Ontario government grants or provincial gas tax, with a portion of bus replacements funded by the tax base.