More savings for transit riders may be coming in March, but the transit strike could leave OC Transpo $12.3 million in debt, the general manager of OC Transpo said Monday.
By not running buses in January, OC Transpo saved around $5.7 million.
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However, that surplus is expected to disappear quickly while OC Transpo operates the system at a cost of $900,000 per day with almost no revenue coming in during February.
On top of that, the city's transit committee voted Monday to extend free transit to all riders by two weeks, which would result in a projected revenue loss of $1.1 million. The motion has to be approved by city council on Wednesday.
OC Transpo general manager Alain Mercier said before the strike, transit service was budgeting to generate $36.9 million between February and April.
However, the refund policy that offers regular December pass-holders free transit until March 31 and EcoPass holders until the end of April is expected to leave the transit service with a $15.5-million shortfall.
OC Transpo still has $7.6 million in revenue from December passes that can be used to make up that shortfall. However, the company has already refunded $1.6 million for those passes.
Earlier this month, city council also agreed to extend the property tax bill due date by four weeks at the cost of $1.3 million.
The city is also spending $1.2 million in mitigation measures to help residents deal with the strike.
Yesterday, councillors suggested a number of extra measures to encourage people to get back on the bus, but they were deferred until early March so city staff can determine how much they would cost.
Suggestions included a 7.5 per cent fare increase scheduled for April that could be put off until July, and free service extended until the end of April for December pass-holders and until the end of March for all riders.