Public transit needs federal support now
As ridership plummets and cleaning costs to protect passengers and employees soar, the public transit sector is seeking immediate federal relief.
The Canadian Urban Transit Association is seeking $400 million a month to keep services running as farebox and other revenue drop by up to 100 per cent. To maintain physical distance between transit operators and passengers, many systems are forgoing fare collection altogether.
“Public transit’s ability to deliver vital service is deteriorating fast,” said Marco D’Angelo, CUTA’s CEO. “To get essential workers to work and help people do things essential to day-to-day life, public transit needs federal support now.”
Revenue relief is one of three COVID-19-related requests CUTA is making of the government.
A second is a fund to help systems maintain liquidity in the period before revenue relief can arrive. CUTA estimates as many as 40 per cent of systems may require bridge funding over the coming months. The association hopes these systems can access $1.2 billion to help them keep the buses and trains running.
Another growing issue is the availability of disinfectants and protective equipment for employees. Consultations with CUTA members reveal more than 70 per cent reported difficulty securing cleaning supplies and protective gear. CUTA is asking for transit to be added to a priority list of sectors receiving these products in the event their supply is restricted in an emergency. It is also seeking federal support to cover these costs.
CUTA has been in discussions with the federal government about how the pandemic is impacting transit since its onset. A formal request was submitted Monday. In 2018, national farebox revenue was about $4.3 billion, excluding other revenues hard-hit by the pandemic such as advertising and parking.
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