ONTARIO MISSES AN OPPORTUNITY TO REBUILD AND GROW TRANSIT RIDERSHIP IN BUDGET 2023
For Immediate Release
TORONTO (March 23, 2023) – The Government of Ontario did not provide funding support for public transit operations in budget 2023. Calls by the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA) and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) for operating support to rebuild and grow ridership went unanswered.
According to an internal survey by OPTA, the shortfall for Ontario’s transit agencies is estimated at $510 million for 2023. With no indication of operating support from the federal government or the province, transit systems face the likelihood of service cuts and fare hikes in the coming months. This could create a negative feedback loop that would lead to further revenue reductions. When riders have to wait longer or pay more, many are forced to find other modes of travel.
“While this is disappointing news, particularly for Ontario’s largest transit systems, we look forward to continuing to work with the Ontario government on addressing transit funding moving forward,” said Kelly Paleczny, Chair of OPTA and General Manager of London Transit.
In recent weeks, several provinces took action to address public transit operating shortfalls. Earlier this week, Québec announced $400 million to Québec’s transit agencies for 2023. Last week, the BC government announced $479 million in operational funding to TransLink, the province’s largest transit system. In late February, the Manitoba government extended operating support to Winnipeg Transit.
“With Ontario’s population growing significantly, investments in public transit operations are needed to maintain service levels and ensure Ontario’s communities can accommodate growth,” said Marco D’Angelo, CUTA’s President and CEO. “We welcomed Québec’s call for consultation with transit systems to address long-term funding and we are ready to work with Ontario on a funding model to support public transit in the same way.”
The budget noted investments of over $70.5 billion over 10 years for public transit infrastructure, including the GO expansion, Ontario Line, Scarborough Subway Extension, Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, the Hazel McCallion Line and Finch West Light Rail Transit Project. OPTA and CUTA welcome these investments but caution that without operating support, transit agencies will face an ironic situation of new transit lines being built while existing service levels are reduced.
OPTA and CUTA continue to call on the federal government and the province to support public transit.
Communications and Public Affairs Specialist
Canadian Urban Transit Association