Groundbreaking Economic Study Outlines Need for Federal Transit Investment



    Transit Calls on Party Leaders to Pledge Funding During Election

    OTTAWA, Sept. 16 /CNW/ - Transit leaders from across Canada today called
on federal party leaders to pledge increased funding for transit during the
current federal election campaign.
    The call to action was supported by the release of a groundbreaking
economic study that analyzed the optimal supply and demand for urban transit
in Canada. "This economic study highlights the need for greater investment in
transit," said Michael Roschlau, CUTA President and CEO. "The study
demonstrates that Canada is clearly underinvested in urban transit."
    The study conducted by HDR Decision Economics Inc. had several important
conclusions:

    
    -   The economically and socially optimal level of transit supply in 2006
        would have required an estimated 1.7 billion vehicle-kilometres of
        transit service, or 74 percent more service than actually supplied.

    -   In 2006, capital investment of $78.1 billion would have been required
        to bring the supply of transit into line with the optimal conditions
        of supply in that year.

    -   Results of the analysis conclude that Canada is clearly underinvested
        in urban transit.

    -   Bringing transit to the optimal level of supply would produce several
        positive economic and social benefits - more than two thirds of these
        benefits constitute the economic value of reduced roadway congestion.
    

    The economic study release comes on the heels of public opinion data that
demonstrates a surge in public support for transit in the wake of rising
gasoline prices.
    The poll, conducted by The Strategic Counsel, was released two weeks ago
by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and CUTA. Major findings
from the nationwide poll of urban Canadians demonstrate that 40 percent of
respondents believe that rising gas prices have already or will push them to
consider using public transit. This survey response suggests that transit
ridership could triple as a result of higher gas prices.
    "Transit providers welcome new riders, but without new funding, this kind
of increased demand would overwhelm transit systems, many of which are already
at or beyond capacity during peak hours," explained Steve New, CUTA Chair.
"Even in some smaller systems that have spare capacity, there are renewal and
replacement needs that resulted from the lack of funding over the last twenty
years."
    The ability to respond to a surge in ridership resulting from higher gas
prices will require major investments in additional service. The FCM and CUTA
say the federal government must put more money into these systems. Over the
next five years, CUTA is expecting the country's transit systems will require
$40-billion to meet the demands and expand public transportation.
    "The fact that such a strong segment of consumers are ready to make the
switch to public transit with rising gas prices means the obvious issue for
federal leaders is how to invest now to meet public demand," concluded
Roschlau.

    CUTA is the national association representing public transit systems,
suppliers to the industry, government agencies, individuals and related
organizations in Canada.





For further information:

For further information: Maureen Shuell, CUTA Director of
Communications, (416) 898-5600 (cell), (416) 365-9800 ext. 105 (office);
www.cutaactu.ca

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Canadian Urban Transit Association

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FEDERAL ELECTION 2008

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