Ontario budget continues to support transit growth

    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA)
and the Ontario Public Transit Association (OPTA) applaud the government's
ongoing commitment to public transit, as reflected in today's budget.
    "The new infrastructure investment of $497 million for transit projects
in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton is much appreciated," says Béatrice
Schmied, OPTA Chief Executive Officer. "But more important is long term
predictable funding that allows for effective transit planning across the
    "The provincial gas tax program is directly helping to meet Ontario's
transit needs," adds Michael Roschlau, CUTA President and CEO, with transit
ridership across the province rising by 3.5 per cent per year since the
program was introduced in 2003.
    It will be important to continue increasing investment in transit, as a
significant shortfall still exists between what is needed and the available
funds. This is clear from the latest CUTA survey of transit infrastructure
needs in Ontario for the period 2008-2012, which indicates requirements of
$23 billion for rehabilitation and replacement as well as expansion needs over
the 5-year period.
    "Considerable investment will also be required to ensure that public
transit systems are able to meet and sustain the requirements of the
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act," notes Kelly Paleczny,
Chair of OPTA. "The industry is very supportive of fully accessible transit,
but recognizes that operating and infrastructure changes come with a cost."
    "A fair and equitable distribution of funding from the recently-announced
Federal Public Transit Capital Trust would further help transit systems meet
the proven ridership needs of municipalities across the province," closes
Larry Ducharme, CUTA Ontario Regional Committee Chair.
    The Associations look forward to working with all levels of government to
fully realize transit's potential.

    OPTA represents the public transit systems of approximately 80 Ontario
municipalities, as well as transportation providers in the non-profit sector
and suppliers to the industry.

    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: Béatrice Schmied, Chief Executive Officer,
OPTA, schmied@ontariopublictransit.ca, (905) 271-6663; Maureen Shuell,
Director of Communications, CUTA, shuell@cutaactu.ca, (416) 365-9800, ext 105

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Canadian Urban Transit Association

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