EDMONTON -- The City of Edmonton could suspend public transit as a last resort this summer if it doesn’t receive financial support from the provincial or federal governments.

Riding the bus and the LRT has been free since March when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Edmonton, costing the city $9.45 million in public transit revenue per month.

In April, councillors heard the city is projected to lose a total of $168.2 million by mid-September.

As part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Edmonton is asking Ottawa for $217 million in emergency funding and is planning on using $57 million on transit if revenue losses last until September, a spokesperson from the mayor's office told CTV News.

"Shutting down transit would be an absolute LAST resort for us," Mayor Don Iveson tweeted. He added the city is facing "serious financial hardships and transit is one of our biggest financial losses right now."

In a statement to CTV News, Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) spokesperson Rowan Anderson said ETS is considered an essential service and that it will continue to operate with Saturday schedules.

"The City understands the critical role transit plays in the lives of citizens, and decisions to adjust service are not made lightly," Anderson said. "Any significant change to current transit service will be guided by City Council, and based on what is necessary, sustainable, affordable and in alignment with health and safety requirements."

Anderson also said transit ridership is down approximately 70 to 80 per cent since the pandemic began.

While the mayor has specified he does not want to suspend transit, even the possibility of it has received a negative reaction on social media.

Ward 4 Coun. Aaron Paquette said transit is an essential service, and other Edmontonians said the bus and LRT are necessary for people to get to work, especially for frontline workers during a health crisis.