Mayors release national transit strategy proposal - Transit investments pivotal to addressing climate change, economic competitiveness and improving quality of life

    MONTREAL, March 5 /CNW Telbec/ - The Federation of Canadian
Municipalities (FCM) and its Big City Mayors' Caucus today called on the
federal government to create a national transit strategy that would not only
take some concrete steps to addressing climate change but also make cities
more competitive and improve quality of life.
    "Opting for public transit is a winning strategy that increases the
appeal and competitiveness of metropolitan regions. Public transit also has
several positive spin-offs in terms of reducing traffic and improving the
quality of life and health of citizens. Finally, public transit plays an
important social role and for many households it represents an affordable and
accessible means to get around the city," said Mayor Gérald Tremblay of
    Investing in transit can also assist the country as a whole to address
climate change. The transportation sector accounts for 30 per cent of Canada's
greenhouse gas emissions, and passenger vehicles are the highest contributor
of emissions in the transportation sector at 70 per cent of emissions.
Considering that one city bus can carry as many passengers as 50 cars and
pollutes 18 times less, a national transit strategy is a logical step to help
address climate change.
    "Getting people out of their cars and onto public transit is the only way
to reduce automobile emissions and end gridlock, but our transit systems need
$2 billion a year just to stay in good repair and expand to serve new riders.
We need a national transit strategy with a long-term funding to maintain and
expand transit" said Mayor David Miller of Toronto.
    While the mayors recognize that the federal government already makes some
investments in transit, the need is much greater than the federal funds
currently available and than what the property tax and user fees can yield.
    "The Canadian Urban Transit Association says transit systems across the
country need $20.7 billion for infrastructure from now to 2010," said Edmonton
Councillor Karen Liebovici, a member of FCM's Executive Committee. "That's
about $4.2 billion a year to keep our systems running and expand them to
accommodate more riders. Without predictable, long-term funding,
municipalities cannot plan and finance long-term transit projects."
    In addition to $2 billion a year for capital expenses, the mayors'
proposal calls for integrated land use and transportation planning, incentives
to encourage people to use transit, research to support greater transit use,
and measures to ensure all governments are accountable.
    The release of this national transit strategy proposal supports the June
2006 BCMC and FCM reports that provided recommendations for addressing the
fiscal imbalance in cities and communities. The reports recommended the
creation of a national transit strategy, the realignment of roles and
responsibilities with appropriate resources and sharing revenues that grow
with the economy.
    The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the BCMC are actively
pursuing the adoption of all of these recommendations to ensure that Canada's
cities and communities and the country as a whole prosper and that Canadians
enjoy the quality of life they deserve.

For further information:

For further information: Massimo Bergamini, FCM, (613) 295-3678; Maurice
Gingues, FCM, (613) 907-6395; Darren Becker, Cabinet du maire et du comité
exécutif, (514) 872-6412; François Goneau, Division des relations avec les
médias, (514) 868-5859.

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Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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