Category Archives: National Public Transit

Ontario earmarks $3.4 billion in transit funding for 2013

Ontario’s Liberals are set to establish a greater commitment to reduce road congestion and improve public transit throughout the province. Transit funding is expected to increase to $3.4 billion in 2013-2014, according to the provincial budget which was delivered today at Queen’s Park by finance minister Charles Sousa.

According to the budget, the financial commitment has jumped nearly $1 billion from last year’s funding on public transit systems.

The government proposes to make permanent the allocation of 2.2 cents per litre of the provincial gas tax toward public transit costs. The tax has generated $2.2 billion for public transit systems in Ontario since 2004, according to the budget.

Some current public transit projects the province is financially aiding include up to $416 million to renew Toronto’s fleet of streetcars, up to $600 million to fund Ottawa’s light rail transit project, up to $300 million toward the Waterloo Region’s rapid transit project and $870 million to extend the TTC’s Yonge-University-Spadina subway line to York University and Vaughan.

The budget also addressed the congestion problem on provincial highways by investing $2.2 toward highway infrastructure.

Some of the highway infrastructure projects that are planned or underway include, widening “key” sections of Highway 401 in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), extending Highway 407 east into the Durham Region and introducing HOV lanes on sections of Highways 401, 404, 410 and 427 in the GTHA.

The province is also proposing to transform some high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in the GTHA into high-occupancy toll (HOV/HOT) lanes.

“We want to be able to offer a choice — if you wish to use them and pay for them,” Ontario finance minister Charles Sousa. “We know that in other parts of the world, they’ve been able to implement HOV’s and offer the HOT’s as an alternative.”

Sousa said that he estimates toll fees from HOVs/HOTs could generate $250 million to $300 million of additional revenue for the province, which will go back to fund public transit infrastructure.

The proposal was received with skepticism by NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who thinks that the toll lanes would result in more drivers on the road.

“The one thing that’s supposed to be about transit isn’t about transit,” she said during a press conference today. “What it does is discourage people from carpooling and create Lexus lanes in the Province of Ontario.”

Horwath said that the budget still lacks measures that will hold the Liberal party accountable on its proposals.

Author: ANDRE WIDJAJA, multimedia staff writer, QUEEN’S PARK

Source: DailyCommercialNews

Insight: Making the Connection between Public Health and Transit

Numerous Martin Prosperity Institute Insights have looked at the relationships between transit accessibility in Toronto and various socio-economic indicators, such as income and working poor population shares. These Insights have identified several patterns between neighbourhoods with less transit accessibility and high concentrations of increased poverty levels. Recently Toronto Public Health released a report entitled Next Stop Health: Transit Access and Health Inequities in Toronto that looks at the relationships between public transit and health within Toronto. In the report, Toronto Public Health (TPH) uses the MPI’s transit score to map the availability and frequency of transit in Toronto. This Insight will provide a quick overview of the results in the Next Stop Health report.

The Report examines transit accessibility within areas of Toronto by looking at how affordable and available public transit impacts the building a healthy city. TPH argues that currently in Toronto numerous low income residents, particularly those in the inner suburbs, are experiencing a disparity in transit accessibility. In turn, the poor quality transit that many low income residents depend on is causing negative health impacts, by making it difficult to access healthy food, employment, education, recreational services and health care, amongst other things.

Exhibit 1: Percent of labour force using public transit to commute to work by employment income, aged 15+, Toronto, 2006

Exhibit 1

Notes: (1) Mode of transportation to work by total employment income of persons 15 years and over with a usual place of work or no fixed workplace address. Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census of Canada (CANSIM Table: 97-561-XCB2006015.IVT) Prepared by: Toronto Public Health, May 2012

 

As previous MPI Insights have demonstrated, the lowest income neighbourhoods in Toronto are the least accessible by transit. Not only are the residents with the lowest employment incomes often provided with the worst transit, they are also the most reliant on it. Exhibit 1 shows the percentages of the labour force that uses public transit within Toronto to commute to work, grouped by different employment incomes. The two income groupings, in which the highest percentage of the labour force uses public transit to get to work, are the two lowest income groups that earn from $20,000 to $39,999 or less than $20,000 a year. When examining the use of motorized vehicles as the mode of transportation to work, high income commuters are found to be 1.5 times more likely to use a motorized vehicle than the lowest income commuters (66.5% of high income commuters use a motorized vehicle).

Exhibit 2: Transit affordability (Cost of monthly transit pass as a percent of monthly minimum wage income), select Canadian cities/municipalities, 2009

Exhibit 2

Notes: (1) Figure includes Quality of Life Reporting System members with populations (2006) greater than 500,000. Source: Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Quality of Life Reporting System. Ottawa, Ontario. Prepared by: Toronto Public Health, May 2012

 

The TPH report further identifies that the health of low income residents in Toronto is being negatively affected by the poor accessibility of transit, and also by affordability. While many low income residents in the City rely on transit, many of them are provided with less transit access, at a cost that they can barely afford. Exhibit 2 presents transit affordability (cost of a monthly transit pass as a percent of monthly minimum wage income) for selected Canadian cities. As shown, Toronto has the second least affordable transit pass amongst the selected Canadian cities, coming second to the Quebec metro area. The dependence on poor transit, coupled with a less affordable transit pass creates a scenario in which performing daily duties for low income residents or those on social assistance more difficult.

The TPH report further examines how poor transit accessibility and affordability for low income residents in Toronto, is negatively affecting their health. The study found that once again, the northwest (Rexdale and Jane/Finch) and eastern (Malvern and Kingston/Galloway parts of the city that were identified as having the worst access to transit are the areas that have higher diabetes rates and also experience longer travel times to practitioners. TPH illustrates that many of the health services that aim to promote good health are unattainable by many in these areas due to barriers created by the dependence on unreliable transit access. TPH also identified that affordability can be especially problematic for families, as some of the parents interviewed mentioned that they have missed doctors’ appointments for their children due to not having transit fare. Poor transit accessibility affects poor residents in Toronto in every aspect of their lives. Not only do they often have a longer work commute, but activities that help maintain a healthy life, such as doctor and dentist appointments are made increasingly difficult, due to the lack of accessibility and affordability of transit for those most dependent on it. Furthermore, Martin Prosperity Institute research suggests that the added dimension of affordable housing options must be considered in conjunction with plans for transit expansion, in order to ensure that these outer neighbourhoods due to improved transit do not become less affordable for the current residents that currently need more accessible and affordable transit. In order to build a healthier city for all of residents, the implications of poor transit accessibility and affordability on the most vulnerable and dependent residents must be examined in for the hopes that must needed changes are made to address these issues.

To read the full report please click here

Source:The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto‘s Rotman School of Management is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors — location, place and city-regions — in global economic prosperity. We take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.

National Public Transit: Province puts $3.4M to expanding public transit between Edmonton, Leduc, Nisku

The provincial government announced plans Tuesday to invest millions to help  expand public transit between Leduc, Nisku, Leduc County and Edmonton.

On Tuesday, the province said $3.4 million in funding to expand the “C-Line”  inter-municipal bus service currently running between those communities.

The “C-Line” runs from Century Park in Edmonton, to bus stops in Nisku and  Leduc, before looping back to Century Park – with a total of five trips running  during morning and afternoon peak times Monday to Friday. Continue reading

National Public Transit: Student transit U-Pass deal extended three years at 10 universities and colleges in Metro Vancouver

VANCOUVER — The province is putting forward nearly $35 million to extend its discounted transit program to all public colleges and universities in Metro Vancouver.

According to a news release from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the government has committed $34.5 million to help TransLink offset the costs of the U-Pass B.C. over the next three years, so students can purchase a transit pass for $35 per month — saving them between $56 and $135 each month.

The discounted pass is an initiative from the government, TransLink, students and their schools, to help encourage 140,000 students to use public transit. Continue reading

TROUT Unique Public Transit Service Mix

Centred in Bancroft, Ontario, The Rural Overland Utility Transit (affectionately known as the TROUT), offers a unique four-component fully accessible public transit service in seven municipalities comprising the north half of Hastings County, and one Haliburton County municipality in a sparsely populated rural region of Southeastern Ontario.

Among challenges the TROUT faces are its large service area and small population base. The permanent population in the region is only 15,000, and the area served is 3380 km2, about two-thirds the size of Prince Edward Island. That’s an average population density of only 4.4 people per km2, requiring creative service strategies to accommodate the ridership base.

Therefore, the TROUT employs a four-part public transit service mix to meet its demographic and geographic challenges.  We call it “TROUT Blended Flex Public Transit Service.” Continue reading

National: Gas tax revenue would be well spent locally: MPP

The Liberals could do a lot to win favour of small-town Ontario by pushing along a bill to give gas tax money to rural municipalities, MPP Laurie Scott says.

The private members bill, introduced by Renfrew-area MPP John Yakabuski, specifies that provincial gas tax money should be given to rural municipalities to help maintain roads and bridges. Currently, that money only goes to fund public transit systems, which Scott says demonstrates how little rural Ontario is considered by the governing Liberals.

“Our public transit is our roads and our bridges,” she said in an interview.
“We pretty much have to drive everywhere.” Continue reading

National Public Transit: Transit Needs Us All On Board

daveheidebrechtDespite living in a world where digital technology has created a global network of interconnections that permeate into most cultures across the globe, our societies and cultures often operate in a disconnected landscape structured on the ideas that sculpted the societies and cultures of our recent past.   In short, while globalization in its various forms has brought many positive advances to benefit the human condition (along with many negative ones), some cultures and societies have been better at adapting to (and managing) change than others.  In places where the transition to new ways of living has been successful, a common theme is an appreciation by governments, planners, and the general public as to why change is needed, how it benefits the population, and what the outcomes will be.

While Canada has in the past been seen as a world leader in many respects, more recently our global credit for innovative approaches to common challenges (such as peacekeeping, environmental leadership, and democratic ideals) has been falling fast.  From the inside looking out, those who are engaged in the cultural dialogues taking place across our country would agree that many of our political leaders (at all levels) are not doing much in the way of leading.  Not to paint with too broad a brush, there are many exceptions to the rule (Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi for one), but more often than not, our political leaders have failed to live up to their end of the democratic bargain.  In this respect, transportation planning is no different.  Granted, we are fortunate enough to live in a geographically vast country with a relatively small population, and as such, our metropolitan regions have had no reason in the past to consider the incredible importance of functioning transportation systems in densely populated regions.  More recently though, as population growth and urban sprawl have seen our cities expand horizontally rather than vertically, some Canadian cities—Vancouver, Calgary, and most recently Waterloo—have actually taken this issue quite seriously.  Realizing that challenges such as gridlock and healthy urban living are tightly tied to the overall health of their region, leaders in these cities have engaged directly with the public to build systems that work to improve the quality of life for their citizens while also creating an environment where business, culture, and nature can all benefit.  Incredibly inspiring, the choices made in these cities can serve as excellent examples for regions facing similar challenges. Continue reading

National Public Transit: Public Transit Users – Claim Your Tax Credit!

If you use public transit, you can claim the cost of certain public transit passes to reduce the taxes you owe.

Important information       

You can claim the cost of monthly or annual passes for unlimited travel within Canada on any of the following: buses, streetcars, subways, commuter trains, or ferries. You may also be able to claim the cost of shorter duration passes and electronic payment cards in certain circumstances.

When claiming the public transit amount, keep your transit pass in case the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) asks you to verify your claim. If you do not have your passes, you can also provide your receipts, cancelled cheques, or credit card statements to support your claim.       Continue reading

National Public Transit: City forecasts increased public transit usage for 2013

The City of Charlottetown, in partnership with Trius Transit, is anticipating another successful year for the transit system.

Charlottetown transit experienced growth throughout 2012 with ridership up eight per cent over 2011.

In February 2013, the Monday-to-Friday daily average was 1,291 people, which represented a 19.6 per cent increase over February 2012.

“Charlottetown transit is an affordable and environmentally friendly transportation option that we encourage citizens to take advantage of,” said Mayor Clifford Lee. “The city worked hard with Trius Transit to provide many improvements in 2012, including a more aggressive marketing plan, and it’s great to see those efforts producing such positive results.”

The city entered into a transit agreement with Trius Transit, the Town of Stratford and the Town of Cornwall in 2012 to provide regional transit services to the three municipalities.

Transit was also re-branded last year with the new T3 logo and tagline, “Take Transit Today”, which represents the three-way partnership. New signage was created, uniforms were provided to drivers and the buses were painted bright green with yellow trim.

Transit schedules have also undergone many revisions to increase frequency and availability, and passengers have reported it to be a more reliable service.

As a result of the changes, two statistical records were broken in 2012: the number of passengers using transit per day; and the number of riders per month.

“We have no reason to think those numbers won’t continue to grow as we keep making improvements to the transit and we’re able to access more routes and appeal to more passengers,” said Coun. Terry Bernard, chair of the city’s public works, street lighting and transit committee.

Source: TheGuardian