Public transportation is an essential service, and COVID-19 didn’t change that in 2020. We’re no less committed to providing a safe way to keep Clark County moving every day. The pandemic did, however, change how we operate. Like others, we’re navigating an unusual season that looks different in a lot of ways:
The safety and cleanliness of our buses has long been a top priority of C-TRAN. In 2020, we put additional workers out on transit center platforms to clean and disinfect vehicles between trips during the day. All vehicles in our fleet are also cleaned every night. To protect passengers and employees, C-TRAN limited the number of available seats on each bus to encourage distancing. Masks are now required on the bus. We also installed a protective shield near the fare box and driver area.
Like transit agencies across the nation, C-TRAN’s ridership has been directly impacted by the pandemic. However, C-TRAN experienced a smaller decline compared to most other transit agencies in Washington. This underscores the importance of public transportation in Clark County, in that so many of our riders depend on transit to make trips for essential needs or other reasons. To assist during the pandemic, C-TRAN increased some critical services including our Shopping Shuttle, which provides seniors access to grocery shopping. This much needed lifeline saw a 23.8 percent ridership increase in 2020 as a result of both need and expansion. Local fixed routes, which account for most of C-TRAN’s ridership, experienced an expected decrease as a function of the Governor’s stay-at-home mandates, as well as C-TRAN’s management of physical distancing on our services. Overall in 2020, C-TRAN tallied a total ridership of 3.8 million representing an expected level of ridership in comparison to past years due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic. This follows three consecutive years of ridership increases in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
C-TRAN continues to operate as a financially healthy, debt-free agency. We’ve put some projects on hold as part of cost-saving measures to ensure we remain on solid financial footing during and after the pandemic. About 85 percent of C-TRAN’s operating revenue comes from local sales taxes. The rest comes from passenger fares, grants and other sources. While those revenue sources have been impacted by COVID-19, we’re taking steps now to ensure that we can continue to provide essential service to Clark County and continue to be responsible stewards for Clark County taxpayers.