Combatting the Affordability Crisis Through Transit

Published January 11, 2023.

Inflation is a top concern for Canadians. As of November 2022, the total Consumer Price Index reached 6.8%, a slight decrease from its peak of 8.1% in June, the highest since the early 1980s. Decreased purchasing power has a disproportionate impact on low-income individuals.

One area where the impact of inflation can be particularly felt is in the cost of transportation. As the cost of fuel and other vehicle expenses rise, it becomes more expensive for Canadians to own and operate a car. This can be a burden for those who rely on a car for their daily commute or for running errands.

One solution is reliable, sustainable, and affordable public transit. It’s cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and reduces the need for individuals to own and operate their own vehicles.

To ensure that public transit can provide a meaningful economic benefit to Canadian communities feeling the crunch of inflation, it’s important that systems have sufficient operating funds to keep transit running so it’s there for riders.

There are several ways to make public transit more reliable, sustainable, and affordable. Operational funding is crucial for keeping service running on time and on schedule. State of good repair maintenance is needed to update aging vehicles/infrastructure. Finally, as our population continues to grow, there is a need for system expansion, such as adding new infrastructure and transit routes.

How should we go about funding these critical investments? Without sufficient operating funds, municipal transit systems will struggle to maintain service levels, impacting the most vulnerable and marginalized populations as well as creating potential safety concerns for riders. Frequent and reliable service are necessary factors to promote broader economic recovery and the return to work that public transit is intended to support. For transit to provide a meaningful benefit to communities, service must be frequent, reliable and affordable for those using it.

Increasing fares can be counterproductive if our goal is greater affordability, especially for Canadians who already feel squeezed by inflation. With support from all levels of government, we can explore options to implementing fare discounts for low-income individuals or families.

Finally, it’s important to make public transit more accessible for all Canadians, including those with disabilities. This could involve investing in accessible buses and trains, as well as providing information and support for individuals with disabilities who use public transit.

When all levels of government invest in public transit, it can be made more affordable and accessible for all Canadians. This can help to ease the burden of rising transportation costs and improve quality of life.