A Halifax Transit bus arrives at a terminal in Dartmouth, N.S. on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Mayors ask federal Liberals for help covering transit shortfalls

OTTAWA — The mayors of Canada’s largest cities say they need federal aid to cover tens of millions in ridership revenue shortfalls to stave off a stalling of the country’s economic recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit municipal coffers hard as cities have watched transit ridership drop along with fare revenue.

At the same time, cities have seen expenses rise, leading to budget holes that mayors have repeatedly sought federal cash to fill.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage says big cities are focusing first on getting help for transit costs to avoid cuts in service that he adds would hurt workers and businesses that rely on train and bus services.

The chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ big city mayors’ caucus also says that absent help, cities could be hard-pressed to make updates to their transit systems that the federal Liberals have promised to help fund.