Transit ridership up as systems face closure


New data show transit ridership is up dramatically as the economy reopens—as the mayor of a major city debates closing the system for the summer.

As transit systems continue to wait for the federal government to provide emergency relief, new ridership figures show significant growth from last week to this. It is up a 17 per cent in Edmonton since last week, whose cash-strapped mayor is openly talking about shuttering the system for the summer; 16 per cent in Vancouver; 12 per cent in London, Ont.; and 8 per cent in Montreal. In Quebec City, which began to reopen earlier, some days have seen almost 60 per cent more riders than during the lockdown.

“National governments in America and Britain understand that keeping transit running is in the national interest, but we are still waiting for Ottawa to act,” said Marco D’Angelo, CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. “If airlines can be helped, the federal government should help keep transit running for essential workers and the economic recovery. The worst time to reduce transit service is when more people are returning to using it.”

Last week, the British government rescued London’s Underground system. And President Trump has been tweeting about U.S. federal support for American transit systems. Congress is debating a second relief package.

Canada’s federal government, in contrast, has yet to act on transit’s longstanding request for pandemic relief even as transit systems show alarming drops in revenue.


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McCartney Lee

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