Transit systems ask: why help airlines and not essential transportation?
As transit systems reduce service and lay off workers, they are asking the federal government why Air Canada receives unprecedented support while they don’t.
Despite transit’s critical role in getting essential workers to work in hospitals, nursing homes, and grocery stores, the federal government has yet to agree to provide emergency financial support. But non-essential modes of transport that are disproportionately used by elective, higher-income travellers have received federal support.
“The people we rely on to keep hospitals clean and grocery stores open take transit to work. Transit is essential because they are essential,” said Marco D’Angelo, CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. “But we cannot keep delivering our essential service in a timely way without federal support soon. And we do not understand why Air Canada receives help, but vital transit service does not.”
Should further service reductions occur, D’Angelo said they will hurt lower-income essential workers the most, through longer waits to get home and more crowded vehicles. He said they do not oppose helping airlines, but assisting only non-essential transport makes no sense.
Transit systems have requested $400 million a month from the federal government, to help recoup plummeting revenues. Across Canada, ridership is down by about 90 per cent and revenue is down by even more as measures such as rear-door boarding to keep operators safe result in fare collection being forgone entirely. Thousands of transit workers have been laid off nationwide and route reductions are widespread.
Other countries, including the United States, Britain, and Hong Kong, have included public transit in emergency relief packages.
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