Survey shows gas prices pushing Canadians to transit but capacity missing



    Not enough buses, trains to meet new demand; Ottawa must put more money
    in transit now, says federation

    OTTAWA, Sept. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - Rising gas prices are cutting into
Canadians' spending power and prompting them to consider taking public transit
for some relief, according to a national survey released today.
    But too few trains and buses may derail a once-in-a-generation
opportunity to move people from cars to transit, say the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Canadian Urban Transit Association
(CUTA).
    "Canadians are at a tipping point," said FCM President Jean Perrault.
"They are feeling pain at the pump and willing to consider switching to
transit. The problem is they'll find most transit systems are already
operating at or beyond capacity."
    The survey, conducted by the Strategic Counsel for FCM and CUTA, shows
rising gas prices have more than one in five Canadians considering switching
to public transit.
    More than 40 per cent say they will consider transit if gas prices
continue to rise. The survey also shows that 83 per cent of those surveyed
believe high gas prices are here to stay and 30 per cent say that their
personal financial situation has worsened in the last six months.
    The survey responses suggest 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 urban systems, many of which are already
at or beyond capacity during peak hours," said CUTA Chair Steve New.
    "The ability to respond to a surge in demand resulting from higher gas
prices will require major investments in additional service" New added.
    The survey suggests that high gas prices will be an issue in the next
federal election.
    "These are issues that must be debated during the next election," said
Perrault. "We're looking at an unprecedented opportunity for government to
help Canadians deal with high gas prices while jumpstarting a shift from cars
to transit. Ultimately the country needs a properly funded, national transit
strategy. But the federal government can get things rolling right now by
adding a dedicated top-up to the existing federal gas tax fund for transit.
The fund is in place, it works, and we all understand it."
    "Either we take the opportunity now to support a shift to transit by
getting more buses on the road and better rail service," said Perrault, "or we
do nothing and Canadians will continue to be hurt by high gas prices with no
alternatives."




For further information:

For further information: Maurice Gingues, Media Relations Officer, (613)
907-6395, mgingues@fcm.ca

Organization Profile

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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Canadian Urban Transit Association

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