ON: Guelph Transit Gets $2.8M; Municipal Share of Provincial Gas Program Helps with Long-Term Planning

Guelph MPP Liz Sandals handed over a cheque for $2.82 million to Guelph Transit Tuesday - the municipal share of the provincial gas tax program the Liberals instituted in 2003.

"We want to get people off the road and onto public transit," Sandals said, explaining the rationale for the program.

"And we know that while gas consumption has increased slightly since the program started, transit ridership has increased considerably."

The gas tax is a flat fee - about 14 cents of every litre of gas you buy goes to the province and between two and three cents a litre of that is turned over to municipalities with transit systems using a calculation that considers population and transit ridership.

Guelph Transit has been receiving this funding since 2004 and has used it to purchase new buses, to add the ring routes around the city, and to implement 15-minute peak service, Sandals said.

Guelph Mayor Karen Farbridge said because the funding is regular and predictable it helps Guelph Transit to do some long-term planning.

She called the changes at Guelph Transit the past few years "epic," listing completion of Guelph Central Station, new routes and schedules, 15-minute peak service and better connectivity with GO trains and buses, VIA Trains and Greyhound buses among the improvements.

"This is not the only money that's allowed those changes to happen but it has certainly helped," she said.

The City of Guelph is expecting to take over ownership of the Via building on the corner of Wyndham and Carden streets in the near future, and after making some improvements to that building, the Greyhound bus will return to Central Station as well.

Farbridge said that final set of improvements to Central Station is expected to be complete by October 2013.

One bus takes up to 40 vehicles off the road and keep 25 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere each year.

Transit ridership increased by nearly 132 million between 2003 and 2010 - the equivalent of removing 110 million car trips from roadways.

Total gas tax collected provincially from October 2011 to September 2012 is $321 million.

tsaxon@guelphmercury.com

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