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Survey Finds Toronto Residents Want a Federal Bailout for Transit

TORONTO — An overwhelming majority of Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residents believe that the Federal Government should provide $5 billion in emergency funding to public transit agencies. A survey conducted by Probe Research on behalf of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Canada found that 82% of people in the GTA strongly support or somewhat support federal funding of public transit operations.

“As a result of the pandemic we have seen unprecedented declines in ridership and farebox revenue,” said Carlos Santos, President of ATU Local 113, which represents 12,000 Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) workers. “We need the federal government to fund transit operations because it is a critical service, especially during the pandemic. Public transit moves essential workers to important jobs and if the government keeps underfunding transit operations it will threaten the commute of essential workers during this difficult time.”

Carlos Santos notes the survey results show GTA residents have the highest support for public transit of the 12 big cities surveyed in Canada with 82% supporting a federal bailout of transit operations.

“It is not surprising to see those results as the TTC is the most underfunded transit system in all of North America,” said Carlos Santos continued. “Before the pandemic, the TTC was moving nearly 1.7 million riders per day but that is clearly not reflective of the volume today. This reinforces our call for a federal bailout as Toronto is the major economic engine of Canada and failure to provide emergency operational funding now will jeopardize our economy and our recovery efforts.”

On a national level, the survey indicated that 91% of Canadians agree that the federal government has a responsibility to provide access to safe, reliable, and affordable public transit.

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. 

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