Transit advocates react to joint statement by TransLink, TTC and STM

Ottawa | Traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg People -Environmental Defence and five other public transit rider groups and environmental groups support the call from TransLink, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) to pull forward the forthcoming Permanent Public Transit funding program to this year and supports their call for the development of a sustainable, long-term funding model that considers the full capital and operating costs of providing high quality public transit services.

Many public transit systems are struggling financially and if they haven’t already, they may soon cut service and hike fares. This just makes the problem worse by chasing away more riders and poses the threat of a downward spiral. Without funding for service, this could lead to the decline of public transit in Canada, just when we need it most as a clean and affordable climate solution.

Canada has an alternative. As demonstrated by a recent report from Environmental Defence and Équiterre, supported by modelling from Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors, with the right policy interventions, Canada can double public transit ridership by 2035 and cut polluting emissions by 65 million tonnes.

Public transit is beset by a broken funding model. Most public transit systems rely on property taxes and fares to fund day-to-day service, and do not have access to revenue tools that grow with the economy like sales and income taxes. Meanwhile, senior levels of government often only fund capital like procuring a new bus or building Light Rail, but don’t provide any of the operating funding needed to improve day-to-day service. This underfunding of operating costs has created chronic instability, rising fares outpacing inflation and slower ridership growth.


  • “Now is not the time for the federal government to hit the pause button on public transit funding. Canadian cities are tasked with supporting record-setting population growth with public transit infrastructure that has been stretched to its limits. Meanwhile, to confront the housing crisis, communities must dramatically increase housing supply, in particular near high-quality public transit. A renewed, permanent public transit infrastructure program is needed to address the core challenges facing Canadian cities today. By choosing to invest now, Canada can grow public transit ridership, put transit systems back on a sound financial footing, and help fight the housing and climate crisis at the same time,” said Nate Wallace, Clean Transportation Program Manager at Environmental Defence.
  • “Toronto’s transit riders urgently need the federal government to accelerate the Permanent Public Transit Fund so that the TTC can order the new subway trains it needs and tackle its growing state-of-good-repair backlog. If federal funding for new subway trains does not materialize soon, riders will experience more delays on the subway. Transit riders deserve better.” said Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Executive Director of TTC Riders, a Toronto-based public transit advocacy group.
  • “Metro Vancouver has dozens of routes which are desperately overcrowded each and every day. The 49 bus route, for example, moves over 30,000 people per day – at least twice as many as federally funded VIA Rail. Rather than punishing people for choosing climate-friendly travel options, we need to honour their choices by funding it appropriately so that they aren’t constantly left behind by full buses. We need federal capital and operating funding for this critical piece of national infrastructure, and we need it this year,” said Denis Agar, Executive Director of Movement: Metro Vancouver Transit Riders.

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE: Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

This statement is endorsed by: The David Suzuki Foundation, Équiterre, Movement: Metro Vancouver Transit Riders, Pembina Institute and TTC Riders

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Karishma Porwal, Environmental Defence, media@environmentaldefence.ca