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Public transit: An essential community service

Stories from Calgary Transit

 

Two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Calgary Transit issued a brief survey to capture citizens’ thoughts and feelings about using public transit. 

“Tell us how you are using transit” was the simple question on Twitter. “We continue to proudly serve over 100,000 a day. Whether you are a healthcare worker, or you are taking transit to the grocery store, work or important appointments, we want to know why transit is important to you, especially during this pandemic.”

Calgary Transit received more than 500 responses within the first two weeks. The feedback was amazing, overwhelming and clearly straight from the hearts of customers. Their show of gratitude has put a stamp on the importance of public transit.

 

Here’s a few of the responses:

 

“Thank you, Calgary Transit, for providing me rides during this pandemic. During the pandemic, I use my pass to go to work at Peter Lougheed Hospital as a cleaner and get groceries for me and my kids. I camp outside of my home, so I don't make the kids sick. I leave some meals for my kids at the front door to our house and take some of the prepared meals for me into my tent. I go to the post office so I can send my mom a letter of love and support without actually having to go over to her nursing home and see her.”

—Mary

“I am a senior; I do not drive. I rely on Calgary Transit to go grocery shopping, go to the doctor, medical appointments, etc. I have been using Calgary transit since 1979.”

—Constance

“It’s been a long jolly ride with transit since I got into Calgary last August. When the pandemic started and a form of lockdown was announced in the province, I wondered how I was going to get about my daily activities of moving around the city, seeing as I don’t own a car. I was more than elated when I realized transit services wouldn’t be affected. I still go to work as I provide essential services and my daily route hasn’t even changed in frequency! Although, the number of people boarding the buses and trains has drastically reduced. For this I am most grateful.”

—Deborah

 “I use Access to get around. Without it, I would be stuck at home. I don’t use it often because of the pandemic, but when I have to go out, I’m glad Access is there for me.”

—Mary K.

 

“Transit is important to my life daily, even before the pandemic. I don't drive at all so it's necessary for me to depend on transit. As well, there is a minimum of stores open now and changed hours, so I rely on transit to get me anywhere. Thank you all for taking the risks as drivers every day! “

Christy

“I do not own a car so I pretty much rely on the C-Train and bus system to travel to where I need to go. Taxis are expensive, so I am grateful to the transit system. I am respectful of the measures put in place for driver safety and customer safety.”

Debra

“Public transit provides a basic mobility service to people and to all without access to a car. ... Public transportation also helps to reduce road congestion and travel times, air pollution, and energy and oil consumption, all of which benefit both riders and non-riders alike. “

—Fatima

“Being an essential service worker with no car, Calgary Transit is the only mode of commute available to me. Thank you, Calgary Transit, for being there for me!!!”

    —Jennie

 

The strong message was clearly that public transit is far more than ridership and revenue but a huge part of the lives of our citizens.

However, Canadian public transit systems are facing an imminent financial crisis as ridership and revenue plummet and need federal support.

CUTA is seeking $400 million a month to keep services running as farebox and other revenue drop by up to 100 per cent. As shown in the testimonials above, transit is an essential service for our citizens. Let’s keep the country moving for them.

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