#PriorityTransit campaign launch

Speech and presentation by CUTA President & CEO Marco D'Angelo

National Press Theatre, Ottawa, Ontario


Good morning, bonjour.

My name is Marco D’Angelo. I am the President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. Thank you for joining me today.

Je m’appelle Marco D’Angelo et je suis président-directeur général de l’Association canadienne du transport urbain. Merci d’être présent avec nous aujourd’hui.

Je vais commencer avec des commentaires en anglais, et continuer après avec un sommaire en français.

Every day, over 15 million people commute in Canada. More than 1 in 3 commuters depend on public transportation. Today, I am pleased to share new findings about the importance of transit to voters in Canada’s largest cities and suburbs.

In April, CUTA commissioned a survey of Canadians living in major urban centres. Conducted by Léger Marketing, our survey focused on four themes that are important to voters. These issues affect the daily lives of Canadians, regardless of whether they take transit or not.

Our four themes were:

  1. fighting traffic congestion
  2. combating climate change
  3. growing the Canadian economy, and
  4. fostering social inclusion

CUTA members deliver community-focused solutions in these areas, day in and day out. Political parties need to address these issues during the federal election campaign.

Divisive issues will emerge on the campaign trail over the coming months. Canadians agree that public transit must be a priority. Our poll findings suggest that 86% of urban and suburban Canadians want governments to invest more in public transit.

Our survey shows that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Conservative, a Liberal, a New Democrat or a Green voter. It doesn’t matter if you live downtown, in the suburbs or in between. There is a political consensus on the importance of transit. That’s why we’re calling today on federal leaders to make investments in transit a priority.

When it comes to traffic congestion, 77% of respondents to our survey said that congestion is a problem in their area. In addition, over 80% of respondents said that reducing their travel times must become a priority for governments.

Improved public transit reduces gridlock. 9 in 10 respondents to our survey agreed with that statement.

CUTA is calling for a dialogue between federal, provincial and municipal governments on solutions to tackle congestion. Canadians have told us they are sick and tired of getting caught in traffic. Our clogged highways cost the national economy billions of dollars in lost productivity each year.

Congestion is also an irritant for urban Canadians and their local governments. That’s why groups like the Mayors’ Council in Greater Vancouver and advocacy groups across the country are focused on curing congestion during the upcoming federal election.

Improving transit services will reduce carbon emissions in Canada. 88% of survey respondents said that using public transit is good for the environment. There was agreement among Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green voters on this point. 82% of respondents also recognized the potential for transit to combat climate change.

Our transit system members understand the importance of greening their fleets. We have business members that are rapidly expanding and deploying buses with alternative propulsion technologies. Our industry is ready. We need the federal government on board to help us cross the finish line.

CUTA’s regional polling results show strong support for leveraging transit to contribute to sustainable mobility. I’m delighted that Mayor Naheed Nenshi commented on the Calgary poll findings by underscoring the importance of transit for the environment.

CUTA is calling on party leaders to commit funding to offset the costs of upgrading to greener fleets. They should know that 78% of urban and suburban Canadians agree that the government needs to invest in deploying more green buses.

Not only is public transit good for the environment, it’s also good for the economy. Transit creates $19 billion in annual economic benefits for Canadians. It supports 125,000 direct and indirect jobs. Without the right investment, population increases will make bottlenecks worse in our cities. The economy will suffer as a result.

The expansion, maintenance and operations of transit systems is money well spent. But the dollars being invested are not flowing quickly enough to support shovel-ready projects. We are asking the people who seek to lead the next federal government to streamline transit investments to modernize our systems and to improve mobility. As councillor Jaye Robinson, the Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission has stated, improved transit is critical to the continued prosperity of the Greater Toronto Area. 

Transit is also important to fostering social inclusion. Yet, many Canadians still struggle to access transit where they live.

While 9 in 10 respondents said that accessible transit is a critical service for their city, nearly 3 in 4 said that better transit services would greatly improve their community.

Our survey found that 83% of Canadians believe that being a car owner requires a large budget. And they’re right. Transit provides value as an affordable alternative to owning a car. We are asking political parties to invest additional sums in the federal Gas Tax Fund to enable dedicated, flexible and permanent operational funding to municipalities. This will ensure more accessible, reliable and affordable transit services to all communities.

With additional funding for operations, transit systems would have the flexibility and the option to offer fare discounts to youth, seniors and lower-income Canadians.

Transit is popular among voters of all major political parties. It is a priority for seniors, youth and everyone in between. It is a key issue for suburban and urban voters from coast to coast.

For these reasons, I am excited to announce the launch of CUTA’s Priority Transit campaign here today.

Our industry has set the bar. It’s time to see if the federal parties can pass the test.

We encourage Canadians to engage with our campaign and get local candidates to commit to prioritizing transit.

Please visit Our website is a one-stop shop for information on our campaign. It provides voters with the opportunity to engage with their local political leaders to show how important transit is as a ballot-box issue.

Priority Transit

J’ai maintenant le plaisir de vous adresser quelques mots en français.

Les résultats de notre sondage Léger témoignent l’importance du transport collectif pour les Canadiens à travers le pays.

En cette année électorale, les politiciens devraient suivre le consensus des Canadiens que le transport collectif est une priorité.

C’est pourquoi les leaders politiques devraient faire du transport collectif leur priorité.

Les faits sont clairs. Quatre-vingt-dix pourcents des Canadiens savent que le transport collectif est un service essentiel. Quatre-vingt-huit pourcents considèrent que le transport collectif est bon pour l’environnement.

Quatre-vingt-six pourcents des Canadiens interrogés veulent que les gouvernements investissent davantage en transport collectif. En plus, soixante-dix-huit pourcents de répondants à notre sondage veulent que le gouvernement fédéral en fasse davantage pour verdir le transport collectif. 

S’ils veulent répondre aux préoccupations des Canadiens, les leaders fédéraux devront s’engager à rendre le transport collectif plus fiable, plus fréquent et plus écologique.

Pour toutes ces raisons, l’ACTU demande que les partis politiques s’engagent à financer l’exploitation du transport collectif à même le fonds de la taxe sur l’essence.

J’étais heureux d’entendre récemment la mairesse de Montréal, Valérie Plante, dire que les citoyens font du transport collectif leur priorité.

Ces résultats m’amènent à vous annoncer le lancement de notre campagne Priorité transport collectif.

Canadians have raised the bar. Are political parties ready to meet the challenge?

Thank you for your attention.

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