UTTRI faculty on Canadian government commitment to new public transit investments

On February 10, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $14.9 billion for public transit projects over the next eight years, which includes permanent funding of $3 billion per year for Canadian communities beginning in 2026-27. This announcement provides cities and communities the predictable transit funding they need to plan for the future, and is part of a plan to create one million jobs, fight climate change, and rebuild a more sustainable and resilient economy.

Professor Shoshanna Saxe, Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Infrastructure, remarks:

I am excited to see the Federal Government come forward with funding for public transit and active transit. Stable long term funding is necessary to allow for stable long term planning, stable long term construction and stable long term operation. There is a lot of good in today’s announcement, from the inclusion of active transport to the inclusion of environmental metrics. That said, the “permanent” recurring yearly part of the funding starts in 2026, that is at least one federal election away and so is not yet really baked in.” – Professor Shoshanna Saxe, Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering, University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Infrastructure.

Professor Amer Shalaby, Director of the Transit Analytics Lab, says:

“The announcement to invest in public transit infrastructure to the tune of $14.9 billion over the next eight years is indeed timely and welcome news. It is in line with calls by many experts for the need of predictable long-term funding to plan and execute critical upgrades of public transit systems in Canada to achieve our mobility, economic, environmental and community goals. Investing in public transit is investing in the future of Canadian cities! While long-term investment in capital transit infrastructure is unquestionably needed, transit agencies need urgently all the financial assistance they can get to offset the unprecedented financial losses due to COVID and to stay relevant in these difficult times.” -Professor Amer Shalaby, Director, Transit Analytics Lab, University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute

Dr. Enid Slack, Director of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG), states:

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on transit systems and municipal finances more generally. Major cities – which have been hardest hit by decreasing ridership during the pandemic – have been dipping into capital reserves and deferring capital expenditures to cover operating deficits. It will thus be difficult for them to invest in new transit  infrastructure to stimulate the economy. This funding will certainly help.” – Dr. Enid Slack, Director, Institute for Municipal Finance and Governance, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto.

Professor Matti Siemiatycki, Interim Director, School of Cities, talked about the announcement on CBC radio’s Here and Now on February 10 (link to come).

News release: New public transit investments to build strong communities, fight climate change, and create new jobs across Canada, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, February 10, 2021, Ottawa, Ontario

Backgrounder: A Plan to Permanently Fund Public Transit and Support Economic Recovery, Infrastructure Canada

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