Taking the bus in Saint John will cost you more in the new year.
Saint John Transit is preparing to hike its fares as of Jan. 1, 2024.
But the city’s transit director says details will not be released until early September.
“We had a fare policy approved at the last transit commission [in July],” Ian MacKinnon told the city’s finance committee on Thursday.
“There’s also, in that policy, an annual escalator built into it and it’ll be reviewed annually.”
Adults currently pay $2.75 to ride the bus while seniors and those 14 years and younger pay $2.50. Those rates have remained unchanged since 2011.
Saint John Transit has been working to improve its finances, which took a hit when the pandemic started.
The transit agency was forced to reduce service on all of its routes in 2020 due to low ridership.
The amount of revenue brought in compared to total operating costs dropped from 45 per cent to 35 per cent. Net costs per service hour have also jumped from $61.53 to $84.76, according to a staff report.
MacKinnon said while ridership and revenue have been improving, they are not back at pre-pandemic levels.
In fact, Saint John Transit is projecting a deficit of $772,000 in 2023 due to lower-than-expected revenue and higher-than-expected fuel costs.
“The message here is we have not returned to the same cost model we have pre-pandemic,” said MacKinnon.
MacKinnon said they are recommending no additional service hours in 2024 in order to help build up the cost model.
Saint John Transit expects to finish the current year with 89,500, an increase of 73,000 last year but still lower than the pre-pandemic level of 97,000.
Its draft budget for 2024 is $10.6 million, an increase of $671,000. Its annual transit operating subsidy is expected to increase by $831,000 to $6.4 million.