July 25, 2011

Canadian public transit ridership up

Public transit ridership across Canada showed very strong growth in 2010, with an increase of 4.1 percent nationally over the previous year. This represents an all-time record with 1.9 billion trips taken, reported the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA).

"The increase in transit ridership in 2010 represents an addition of well over 75 million passenger trips from 2009, roughly the equivalent of the total ridership of the Edmonton Transit System," said CUTA President/CEO Michael Roschlau. "The increases were spread across the country in communities large and small, with many of Canada's smaller communities showing remarkable growth, with averages exceeding 5 percent."

"This growth in transit ridership shows that Canadians are looking for alternatives to high gas prices and traffic concerns, and public transit can represent a real option to reduce reliance on single occupancy vehicles," added CUTA Chair John King. "Sustaining this rate of ridership growth, however, requires ongoing support for expanding transit capacity and service levels through investment in infrastructure and operations."

CUTA's most recent national infrastructure survey reported a $53.5 billion need for public transit capital investment for the period 2010 to 2014, which includes all communities from coast to coast, only 67 percent of which is fundable under existing programs. Indeed, related CUTA research has concluded that the economic return on investment in Canadian transit infrastructure exceeds 2:1 — a benefit that exceeds $10 billion annually.

"The establishment of a Canadian Transit Policy Framework, aligning the interests of all orders of government, will be critical in meeting the needs of Canadians, as the demand for transit service continues to grow," said Roschlau. "This record ridership in communities of all sizes is proof of the need for sustainable long term funding."

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