Transit systems ask governments to continue operating support
The Canadian Urban Transit Association is asking the prime minister and premiers to extend financial support so transit systems can keep operating safely and conveniently through the pandemic.
In the summer, Ottawa and the provinces delivered $4.6 billion in unprecedented operating support through the safe restart agreement. But in most provinces, funding expires at the end of March.
More than 2.5 million people take transit every day. Unless funding is extended, they will endure longer waits and what vehicles remain in service will be more crowded.
“Governments recognized transit’s essential role in daily life by including it in the safe restart agreement. Transit systems and their riders are grateful, but the need isn’t going away,” said Marco D’Angelo, CUTA’s president. “Many of the millions of people who take transit daily have no other mobility options. If service is reduced as funding ends, people who live too far from work or school to walk or cycle but whose income is too low to drive will endure long waits and crowded vehicles. Governments can’t let that happen, but time is running out.”
In addition to workers and students, D’Angelo noted transit is often also the only mobility option for many seniors and people living with disabilities.
Since the depth of the lockdown in the early spring, transit ridership has rebounded to about 42 per cent of pre-Covid levels. Thanks to governments’ support, service levels are about 87 per cent of normal. Before the pandemic hit, 52 per cent of transit systems’ operating costs were covered by fares.
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