Across the country, transit agencies are on the brink of collapsing or being forced to cut service routes and jobs because of the impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic has added additional pressure to our transit systems, compounding decades of neglect, cuts and privatization. Now that the second wave of COVID-19 is here (and expected to be even bigger than the first) we need to work to protect our public transit agencies for the future.
Public transit, in cities, towns, and even rural areas across the country, are a critical public service and key to our response to the climate crisis. The Council of Canadians is joining dozens of groups from coast to coast in writing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand immediate, direct relief for public transit agencies across Canada.
Funding public transit isn’t a radical idea. Polling done earlier this year by Probe Research found that emergency transit funding by the federal government is supported by 79 per cent of Canadians. We have popular opinion on our side, now we need the government to act.
Will you add your voice to protect public transit from the pandemic?
Millions of people depend on a just recovery for public transit. Vulnerable communities are most likely to feel these cuts because of structural inequities, exploitation and oppression – including women, LGBTQ, Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, and low-income working-class people.
We’ve collectively applauded frontline workers as heroes, and now it’s time to back that up with meaningful action. Many of our COVID-19 heroes rely on public transit to get to work and access services. Supporting frontline and vulnerable communities means making sure our public systems – including transit – support them.
The government must prioritize transit operating funds in the Fall Economic Statement. That means committing $400 million per month in ongoing funding for transit operations to recover the financial losses incurred during the pandemic.
To fight the pandemic and the climate crisis at the same time, our government must commit to permanent operational funding to ensure a just recovery, and a Green New Deal for public transit.
Will you add your voice to dozens of organizations and thousands of people demanding a just recovery for public transit? We can’t afford to lose our public transit systems to the pandemic. Public health and our climate depend on it. Funding public transit will increase the frequency and reliability of public transit operations, which can help flatten the COVID-19 curve and reduce emissions and inequities.