The Transit Action Alliance of Guelph (TAAG) has joined other advocacy groups and have written to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation, about the need for emergency funding for public transit during COVID-19. See the letter below and how you can help!
Read the letter:
Dear Minister McKenna and Minister Mulroney,
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of every person depends on safe, accessible public transit. Frontline workers in essential services, from health care to grocery stores, are relying on transit to get to work. Investing in public transit now and in the future benefits us all.
The Transit Action Alliance of Guelph (TAAG) is a membership-based organization of transit users in Guelph. We urge you to implement a transit stimulus plan with the following four elements:
1) Emergency funding for transit agencies
Transit agencies in Canada rely on farebox revenues to fund most of their operating budgets, but ridership has dropped significantly. The Canadian Urban Transit Association is calling for $400 million per month in emergency federal funding to replace lost farebox revenue for operations, for the duration of the pandemic and until ridership regains February 2020 levels.
Emergency funding is needed to ensure that transit agencies can maintain enough service for transit workers and riders to practice physical distancing. Transit agencies must be supported to purchase adequate personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, provide paid sick days, and halt fare collection, which puts operators and riders at risk with close physical contact.
2) Permanent federal and provincial transit operations funding
Strong public transit systems are essential to economic recovery and poverty reduction. Historically, transit ridership has remained relatively low during recessions, and agencies have cut service and increased fares in response. To meet our climate goals, we urgently need to shift people from cars to transit. Improving service and lowering fares are the best ways to accomplish this, and both measures require permanent transit operations support.
3) A permanent federal transit fund
The federal government’s welcome election promise to create a permanent transit fund and increase annual investments to $3 billion per year must be implemented as soon as possible. Municipalities across Canada have ambitious plans for rapid transit, accessibility upgrades, and fleet expansion that, if funded, would stimulate the economy, increase transit ridership, and provide good jobs. This could include electric transit vehicle manufacturing in existing facilities that are at risk of full or partial closure, such as the GM Oshawa plant. Transit expansion should use cost-effective technologies that match ridership needs.
4) Public ownership
Transit stimulus spending should support publicly owned agencies and assets, so that investment is cost-effective and directly benefits the public, not private firms. Ontario’s Auditor General found that public private partnerships cost taxpayers $8 billion more than if they had been procured publicly, largely due to higher private sector borrowing costs.
We look forward to learning about your plans to support public transit.