Canada’s three largest transit agencies asking for early launch of Permanent Transit Fund

March 20, 2024
TTC, TransLink and the STM are requesting the government of Canada launch the PTF Fund two years ahead of schedule to help the agencies address growing pressures on their systems.

Canada’s three largest transit agencies, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), TransLink and the Societe de transport de Montreal (STM) are asking the government of Canada to launch the Permanent Transit Fund (PTF) two years ahead of schedule to help the agencies address growing pressures on their systems. 

In a joint Federal Budget Submission, TTC, TransLink and STM called on the government of Canada to “advance the commitment of funding under the new federal PTF by early 2024, instead of 2026, to enable critical projects and programs to advance and support long term capital planning.” 

The agencies say that some of Canada’s most pressing current challenges, including climate change, housing affordability, immigrant settlement and innovation, require vibrant, successful public transit systems. They are warning that if the government of Canada fails to deliver new funding for urban transit systems in the 2024-2025 budget, it will put in jeopardy new transit-oriented developments and reduce access to affordable housing that all three cities are working to deliver with their provincial and federal government partners. 

“A strong public transit system is fundamental to meeting our affordability and climate action goals. With the city of Toronto and province of Ontario committing hundreds of millions of dollars toward new subway trains for Line 2, we are hoping the government of Canada will open the PTF early for us to start the process of purchasing the new trains. While that’s our immediate pressure, we also hope to be able to use this fund for new buses,” said Rick Leary, TTC CEO.   

In the joint submission, the transit agencies outline significant challenges they face due to aging infrastructure, an outdated funding model that relies on regressive sources such as transit fares and property taxes, and the exceptional ridership growth forecasted for the coming decades. With approximately 2.35 million new residents expected before 2050 in the three cities, immediate and sustained investment in transit operations, state of good repair and building capacity is essential to prepare for the growth. 

In addition to accelerating delivery of the PTF, the submission also requests the government of Canada permanently double the Canadian Communities Building Fund (CCBF) as a proven predictable funding stream for municipal infrastructure needs and establish a forum for ongoing tri-partite engagement with all orders of government on the development of a sustainable, long-term funding model for public transit that considers the full capital and operating costs of providing high quality transit services.  

In 2022, the three agencies: 

  • Generated approximately 60 percent of Canada’s transit ridership. 
  • Enabled mobility at the center of regions that are home to one out of every three Canadians. 
  • Served the core of regional economies that generated 40 percent of Canada’s national gross domestic product.   

 “We have a rapidly growing population and an urgent need for ongoing sustainable transportation to meet our environmental goals – we cannot afford to wait another two years for access to the Permanent Transit Fund. We need that funding now to ensure reliable operation of our networks. It’s unthinkable that we would have to cut public transit services or put off refurbishing and replacing our outdated infrastructure because the available funds were allocated too late,” said Marie-Claude Léonard, STM CEO. 

“Just last year, Metro Vancouver’s population grew by 90,000 people – which was nearly double the projected growth for our region. As our population grows, it’s imperative that our transit system expands as well. A federal funding commitment is urgently needed to help us meet the needs of our growing region through our 10-year Access for Everyone plan,” said Kevin Quinn, TransLink CEO. 

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.