Ford’s 2020-21 budget doesn’t fund the transit projects people are waiting for. Transit infrastructure spending was cut by $700 million, compared to the 2019 budget, which means the chances of transit projects like the Ontario Line being complete on time are dwindling.
- Transit infrastructure spending for 2020/2021 has dropped by $700 million. In its first 2019 budget1, Ford allocated $5.5B to spend on transit infrastructure in 2020-2021. In this year’s budget2 transit spending for 2020/2021 dropped to $4.7B. This cut is due to the government cutting and delaying transit projects
- The money’s not there for the four priority transit projects in the GTHA. Unlike the cancelled-relief line project, which was supported by all levels of government, Ford’s ‘go it alone’ approach to transit building means these four projects will likely be funded by the province alone. The Feds are silent on whether they will commit the 40% the province is asking for, and Toronto has withdrawn its funding commitment.
- There’s not enough funding for to deliver two-way, all-day electrified GO service every 15 minutes. Expanding GO is a very good goal. The problem is with delivery. The procurement process has been delayed by another year and the government has become soft on its commitment to electrify. We simply don’t when the first electric train will roll into Union Station.
- The government is moving forward with its Transit-Oriented Communities plan, which permits developers to build big above or near a station in return for partially funding station construction. We support the concept, but new development must put the public interest first, not developer profits. The government has rejected my measures to include affordable housing, inclusionary zoning, and community benefits agreements into their TOC plans. And the two stations the government is building through the TOC program – Woodbine and Mimico – have zero requirements to hire local or build affordable homes.
- Emergency funding for transit agencies is just temporary. The Federal-Provincial Safe Restart Agreement provides up to $2 billion to fund transit agencies to help them fill the budget shortfall left with the massive drop in fare revenue and ridership due to COVID-19. This funding arrangement is temporary until March 2021, and has unpleasant requests attached, including a request to move forward with fare integration – which could mean higher fares for lower-income riders – and the replacement of public buses with privatized car use on some routes. The province should provide more permanent stable funding to transit agencies.
This is our vision for transit.
Build transit right. This means building transit to benefits riders and the region. Building transit right also means having the public sector deliver the project, and incorporating affordable housing, made-in-Ontario commitments, and community benefits agreements into transit infrastructure so local neighbourhoods can benefit and people can get good jobs.
Help riders now. It is vital the provincial government match municipal funding to transit agencies so riders can have better service and more affordable fares now.
We need good public transit now. There’s no time to wait.