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HSR hit hard by COVID, service expansion on hold

In the first two months of 2020, HSR ridership and revenue was ticking along at about five percent ahead of budgeted volumes. Then COVID 19 hit in March. Since then, to the end of June the HSR has lost almost $12 Million. As a result, HSR staff are recommending the postponement of the fifth year of the HSR’s 10-year plan to increase service and capacity. The $4.2 Million plan would have seen an increase of 13, buses, 35 jobs and 46,000 additional hours of service. HSR staff are predicting an overall revenue shortfall this year of $21 to $27 Million. That’s all on hold now until city revenues approve.

As Hamilton heads into Phase Two of COVID recovery there are some encouraging signs. Ridership which had plummeted to about 20 percent of normal is now above 30 percent, and starting next week the allowed capacity on buses will be increased to two thirds capacity. Up until now capacity was restricted to 10 passengers on a normal 40-ffot bus and 15 on an articulated bus. The other good news is that the buses have been outfitted with protective shields for drivers and that will allow fare collection to begin on July 1.

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