Winnipeg Transit is reducing its service schedule and temporarily laying off hundreds of bus operators after a drastic decline in ridership since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ridership has fallen 72 percent and revenue has dropped by 74 percent, or $6 million monthly.
Over the next two weeks, a phased-in schedule reduction will be implemented. As of May 4, Winnipeg Transit will be adjusting their weekday schedule to an “enhanced Saturday schedule.” The bus schedule for Saturdays and Sundays will not change.
As a result, 229 permanent bus operators and 24 non-permanent bus operators will be temporarily laid off. Permanent bus operators will be laid off effective May 3, and non-permanent operators in training will be laid off as training programs finish on May 1 and May 22.
The temporary layoffs came with sharp criticism from the Amalgamated Transit Union 1505.
“I’m extremely disappointed that frontline staff are getting axed when there’s a lot of other fat to be trimmed ” said Romeo Ignacio ATU 1505 Local President.
“It is unacceptable that management didn’t even give us a courtesy call, before they began notifying our members of the lay off while they were on the job.”
The ATU is calling on city council to discuss and vote on the proposed layoffs.
Winnipeg Transit is also no longer offering overtime to bus operators, potentially impacting daily service.
Riders will be able to view a complete adjusted weekday schedule on the Winnipeg Transit website beginning Thursday.
Winnipeg Transit had been criticized for weeks for continuing to run full routes as fewer Winnipeggers were using public transit. The city also recently launched its new BLUE line rapid transit service from downtown to the University of Manitoba.