HALIFAX, May 12, 2020—An overwhelming majority of Halifax residents believe that the Federal Government should provide $5 billion in emergency funding to public transit agencies. A poll conducted by Probe Research on behalf of Amalgamated Transit Union Canada found that 78% of people in Halifax strongly support or somewhat support federal funding for public transit operations.
“We know that the pandemic has caused devastating declines in ridership and farebox revenue because of rear-door loading,” said ATU Local 508 President, Ken Wilson. “We are asking the Federal Government to fund transit operations because municipalities are in financial chaos and the provinces are overwhelmed.”
Furthermore, the poll indicated that 91% of Canadians agree that the Federal Government has a responsibility to provide access to safe, reliable, and affordable public transit.
“Funding public transit is one of the most important ways that the Federal Government can take action to support the economy during this pandemic,” said Ken Wilson. “It’s clear that the government has a responsibility to provide operational funding, and we are hopeful that the government will recognize the need for a bailout of this critical service that moves essential workers to important jobs that are keeping Canadians safe during this crisis.”
The Government of Canada has taken unprecedented action during this pandemic to help individuals and businesses survive the financial impacts. This includes commercial landlords receiving rent subsidies, health-care workers receiving wage top-ups, and private transportation companies receiving bailouts, but the government has neglected public transit.
“Now more than ever, Halifax residents want the Federal Government to show leadership because it is this government’s responsibility to ensure our residents, and Canadians everywhere have access to safe, reliable, and affordable transit that meets a national standard,” says Ken Wilson.
Ridership levels have plummeted by over 75% since the pandemic took hold in Canada, and the ATU has been calling for a bailout of $5 billion over 12 months — to sustain operations and support urban public transit and intercity buses. The ATU’s ask is supported by other unions and industry groups such as the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in calling for emergency federal funding for transit operations. Between May 1-6, 2020, Probe Research surveyed 1500 Canadians living in cities and urban centres across Canada. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8%, 19 times out of 20.
Ken Wilson ATU Local 508 President