Budget’s commitment to build transit welcome; ongoing operating support still needed
The Canadian Urban Transit Association welcomed the reiteration of the importance and benefits of building new public transit in today’s federal budget, while continuing to stress the need for on-going operating support to keep existing transit moving.
The $14.9 billion announced this year for public transit capital projects, including zero-emission buses and related infrastructure, is an important way to keep cities moving while reducing emissions. The budget’s new investment in Via Rail’s high-frequency train service is also welcome.
Last year’s Safe Restart Agreement provided $4.6 billion in operating support for public transit to offset steep revenue losses as Covid depressed ridership. Before Covid, 52% of transit’s operating costs came from fares. With ridership currently at 40% of pre-Covid levels, revenue shortfalls remain and to keep transit moving for the two million people who rely on it daily, governments need to extend operating support.
“The investments in building transit made this year will help decongest our cities and reduce emissions,” said Marco D’Angelo, CUTA’s president. “Public transit is at the centre of social equity and environmental sustainability, and the support from this government is potentially transformative. But transit systems also need support for existing transit services. Funding in the Safe Restart Agreement is running out, and should be extended so transit systems can emerge from the pandemic in position to expand.”
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