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Canadian transit infrastructure needs investment: CUTA

Canadian transit infrastructure needs investment: CUTA

A new national survey released by the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) shows that the total value of transit infrastructure plans for the 2012-2016 period amounts to $53.5 billion. Thanks to strong commitments by all orders of government, $40 billion can be drawn from existing funding streams. The remaining $13.5 billion will have to come from new or additional sources.

"Over the last decade, the federal government has given high priority to improving transit infrastructure and services. Investment has grown substantially, now averaging $1 billion per year," says CUTA President and CEO Michael Roschlau. "Whilst this is praiseworthy, we know that more investment is needed to preserve and maintain today's infrastructure needs and to serve an ever-growing number of passengers."

The survey also shows that the infrastructure funding gap between transit plans and available funding is shrinking. Indeed, it is expected that 75% of the transit infrastructure needs will be met by existing programs during the 2012-2016 period, up from 67% for 2010-2014, and 50% for 2008-2012. In fact, 27% of the funds is needed to rehabilitate or renew existing infrastructure, while 73% is identified to expand capacity for ridership growth.

"What is particularly interesting is that these figures indicate that transit systems across the country continue to plan to expand their services to meet the mobility needs of the growing population," says CUTA Chair John King. "Despite financial challenges, public transit ridership rose nearly 5 % in the first half of 2011. This increase is a barometer that a more positive economic climate is emerging, and the industry needs to be ready for the demand that will occur."

Investment in transit shows an impressive economic return.  The economic benefit of Canada's existing transit systems is at least $11.5 billion annually, or almost 1 per cent of Canada's entire gross domestic product.  Over the last few years, all orders of government have made record-level investments in public transit. These investments have paid off: ridership is on a steady rise with all-time records being set every year; and transit is enhancing the global competitiveness of Canadian cities, which helps attract new foreign investments.

"Continued investment is required if transit systems are to address the infrastructure needs and improvements across Canada. They will help increase mobility and the economic competitiveness of our country," concluded Roschlau.