About 40 per cent of the cost of running Alberta transit came from fares, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association. (Black Press file photo)

About 40 per cent of the cost of running Alberta transit came from fares, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association. (Black Press file photo)

Alberta providing $79.5 million to transit systems in province

The Government of Alberta is set to provide $79.5 million for public transit across the province, Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney announced Friday.

This money will support transit system in Alberta municipalities “feeling the financial pinch” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sawhney said in a statement.

“Our commitment will match the federal government’s recent funding announcement,” she said.

“Barring any questions from the federal government on our approach, we will be moving quickly to advance grant agreements with municipalities and get cheques out the door.”

Coupled with federal funds, this will deliver almost $160 million to keep Alberta transit running.

Last month, the federal government announced it would provide up to $750 million to help cities cover the costs of running public transit while ridership is down due to the pandemic. Alberta is the first province to partner with Ottawa.

Sawhney said “it’s no secret” municipal transit systems suffered losses during the pandemic, with people working and studying remotely and using transit less.

“As people start returning to work, public transit is a critical component to economic recovery,” she said.

“Public transit is an essential service, in particular for students who are returning to on-campus learning, seniors and other vulnerable populations who may be re-entering the workforce to get to and from work or re-engaging in social activities.”

These agreements will require commitments from recipient municipalities to utilize all funds on transit operating shortfalls or transit capital, she added.

Marco D’Angelo, Canadian Urban Transit Association president, said transit systems thank Sawhney and Premier Jason Kenney for the support.

“Every day, about 300,000 Albertans rely on transit to get to work, school, and for daily life. Today’s announcement means buses and trains will keep running as they have throughout the pandemic,” said D’Angelo.

“Public transit is essential to cities, and Alberta’s support is needed and welcome.”

About 40 per cent of the cost of running Alberta transit came from fares, the CUTA said, adding for every 10 per cent drop in ridership, Alberta transit systems lose $31 million in revenue.

“Without extended support, service reductions would likely be inevitable,” said the CUTA.



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