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Right-Sizing Transit: What is a Reasonable Level of Transit Investment?


In recent years, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) has successfully brought public transit to the forefront of elected officials at all levels, the planning industry and the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC). We are beginning to realize there are quantifiable economic and environmental business cases to increase transit investment that, following many years of financial neglect, resulted in transit fleets being modernized and expanded, with billions of dollars in transit infrastructure committed. The larger urban centres across Canada have mature public transportation systems and the appropriate staffing levels and budgets to make things happen while the hundreds of smaller municipalities across Canada are not blessed with similar resources. Smaller communities are less fortunate since growth tends to be limited or transit just isn’t that well understood; however, this is changing. Many communities are now facing issues that require either increasing transit investments or investing in transit for the first time. Typical questions asked are:  Why should we invest more or even introduce transit if everyone drives?  How many people will use transit?  How do we start a service? Who will run it?  How do we get Council buy-in? The purpose of this paper is to provide a high level understanding for non-transit professionals so that, at the end of the day, those with little or no understanding of the transit business will have a framework to follow when questions are being asked about transit, or you are looking at taking the next steps.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Wally Beck
Mark Mis
Transportation planning