Transit systems ask: aren’t we essential as the economy reopens?
As provinces begin to allow more people to return to work, transit systems are asking how they will get there as service levels continue to drop.
The federal government has yet to provide emergency relief for public transit, even as revenue plummets and layoffs grow. Health care workers, cleaners, and grocery store workers already depend on public transit to get to work—and more will join them as the economy reopens.
“Without federal support, there is a real risk transit service will drop right when people need it more,” said Marco D’Angelo, CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. “Public transit is facing an imminent financial crisis. Transit is essential because the people who ride it are essential and it needs federal support.”
Since the pandemic began, ridership has dropped by about 90 per cent. This has created massive declines in revenue, which in turn have led to route reductions and layoffs. As service is reduced, wait times increase and remaining vehicles grow more crowded.
The transit sector and Federation of Canadian Municipalities have requested $400 million a month from the federal government to maintain service for essential workers and, increasingly, those essential to economic recovery.
Transit systems are in active discussions about options should federal support remain elusive. Many scenarios include service reductions even as more people return to work.
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