Transit stakeholders in Canada from public transit agencies and supporting businesses renewed their call for the federal government to move up the start date of the Permanent Public Transit Fund (PPTF) to 2024 at the 2023 Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) conference and transit show, which was held in Edmonton, Alberta.
The planned rollout of the C$3 billion (US$2.2 billion) annual PPTF in 2026 results in an infrastructure funding gap for public transit projects.
CUTA says the current timing of the PPTF leaves transit agencies facing critical capacity problems and mounting state of good repair backlogs. The association notes the challenges must be addressed to accommodate Canada’s substantial projected population increase and to advance key policy aims, such as increased housing supply and reducing emissions.
The association pointed to the Toronto Transit Commission's recent launch of new streetcars, which was made possible with a combined investment of C$568 million (US$414 million) from the government of Canada, government of Ontario and the city of Toronto. Many Canadian cities face similar transit infrastructure pressures and the announcement reinforces the need for transit infrastructure funding in cities across Canada.
CUTA also notes the country is Canada is estimated to have a population of 45 to 50 million people by the mid 2040s based on the government of Canada's immigration target of roughly 500,000 new Canadians annually. The association says transit systems are built for accomodate 25 million people.
In the city Brampton, where ridership has surpassed 2019 levels, the transit system remains strained, as the municipality is currently unable procure electric buses or build new facilities. Similar situations are playing out in other fast-growing regions like St. John’s, Halifax, Sherbrooke and Metro Vancouver.
“Communities must be equipped to expand transit networks to meet rising demand and to ensure new housing developments are properly integrated with public transit infrastructure,” said CUTA President Marco D’Angelo. “The alternative is more road congestion, commuter dissatisfaction and higher emissions.”