Transit systems to Ottawa: Help cities now

January 26, 2022 4:56 pm. Published by

Ottawa—As another transit system asked Ottawa for help to keep running, the Canadian Urban Transit Association urged the federal government to hasten discussions with provinces about municipal budget relief.

Transit ridership is down by about half due to Covid, and lost transit revenue is the single-biggest revenue shortfall for most cities. In 2020, the federal and provincial governments delivered $4.6 billion in unprecedented support to keep transit running but these funds either have expired or soon will.

“More than two million people rely on transit every day. But cities won’t be able to keep it running unless Ottawa and the provinces provide more financial support,” said Marco D’Angelo, CUTA’s president. “Cities cannot replace this lost revenue alone and public transit isn’t a nice-to-have. For the people who depend on transit, to meet climate targets, and decongest cities Ottawa needs to keep transit running.”

Before the pandemic, 51% of the cost of running transit was covered by the farebox. But ridership is only about half pre-Covid levels. For every 10% drop in ridership, transit systems lose $470 million nationwide.

Today, transit systems and ferries in British Columbia asked the federal government for support. Metro Vancouver’s system, TransLink, said it needed $200 million. The story is similar across the country. The Toronto Transit System is forecasting a $561 million shortfall. Calgary’s will be up to $89 million. In Montreal, it’s $43 million.

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Alex Krause

Communications & Public Affairs Specialist