CUTA voices displeasure for government of Canada’s 2024 budget

April 18, 2024
The association says calls for accelerated funding for public transit infrastructure and enhanced safety measures went unanswered in the budget.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) and Canada’s transit agencies says the government of Canada missed an opportunity to support Canadian communities and improve affordability in the 2024 budget. The association says calls for accelerated funding for public transit infrastructure and enhanced safety measures went unanswered in the budget. 

The government of Canada is waiting until 2026 to introduce the much-needed permanent public transit fund. CUTA urged the government to introduce a component of the fund in the 2024 budget and open intake and funding commitments for the remainder of the fund. CUTA underscores the urgent needs facing Canada’s transit agencies as they contend with aging infrastructure and rising demand spurred on by Canada’s rapidly rising population. 

CUTA notes investments in housing are needed but the government of Canada’s ambitious housing plan has not yet addressed the need for public transit services to connect new housing. Public transit infrastructure plays a pivotal role in supporting Canada’s growing communities. The association notes that leaving urgently needed transit investment out of the 2024 budget can lead to adverse and far-reaching effects on mobility and affordability. 

The association says public transit systems collectively faced unfunded operational shortfalls estimated at more than three quarters of a billion dollars in 2023 that threaten their ability to serve communities effectively. Without government support, transit systems risk service cuts or fare increases at a time when affordability is a chief concern. Communities across Canada risk heightened road congestion, commuter dissatisfaction and less frequent and reliable transit services. 

“Budget 2024’s goal was to provide affordability and fairness for every generation.” said Marco D’Angelo, CUTA president and CEO. “Unfortunately, the budget does not address the needs of young people, seniors and families who can not afford to buy a car and rely on public transit every day. Robust public transit systems are needed to meet Canada’s affordability and climate goals.” 

The news comes after Canada’s Federal Transportation Minister Pablo Rodriguez noted in late March that the government of Canada may decide to advance the permanent public transit fund due to urgent needs facing transit agencies. 

CUTA says funding for transit safety and security on transit was also missing from the budget. 2023 saw an increase in incidents of violence and social disorder on transit, impacting transit workers and riders alike. In response, CUTA urged the federal government to establish a transit safety and security fund to help transit agencies with specific expenditures needed to prevent, combat and respond to safety and security incidents on their systems. The association says transit agencies need urgent support for staffing, training, station enhancements, public awareness campaigns and other safety and security measures. 

The association says the 2024 budget documented some positive developments for public transit. CUTA welcomes the government of Canada’s intention to renew the Clean Technology Manufacturing Tax Credit and introduce a new 10 percent Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Investment Tax Credit, which has the potential to help Canadian bus manufacturers maintain and grow manufacturing capacity and support highly skilled jobs. 

Additionally, CUTA welcomes the government of Canada’s investment in Via Rail operations and infrastructure, including C$462 million (US$335.5 million) during the next five years for VIA Rail network operations, as well as new funding to replace aging fleet on routes outside the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. The government of Canada also called for C$63 million (US$45.8 million) during the next three years to renew the Remote Passenger Rail Program, which supports Indigenous-owned rail operators providing services to communities in Manitoba, Quebec and Labrador. The 2024 budget also proposes C$371 million (US$269.5 million) during the next six years for VIA’s High Frequency Rail project.