RACINE, Wis.— A new study shows Wisconsin’s public transit systems have been slow to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to ridership. 

A recent study released by the Wisconsin Policy Forum analyzed federal and state data relating to transit ridership and highway transportation. Among the state’s nine largest transit systems, bus ridership remained down around 50% compared to pre-pandemic percentages. 

Racine’s RYDE transit is among those transit systems that saw a decline in ridership. Transit Manager Trevor Jung estimated ridership was down roughly 40% in 2021, compared to 2019. 

“Obviously the pandemic had a dramatic impact on service, so what we saw was a pretty substantial reduction in that type of ridership. In recent months, we are creeping back up; it is not nearly at the levels we saw pre-pandemic,” said Jung.

The exact reasons for the decline in ridership statewide aren’t entirely clear; however, the Wisconsin Policy Forum report suggested more people working from home likely play a role.

Jung said it will take work and continued investment in transit in Racine and statewide to bring ridership back to pre-pandemic levels. Recently, Racine invested in new eco-friendly electric busses which now make up 25% of their fleet. 

To read the Wisconsin Policy Forum report on transportation, click here.