City hopes to get Calgary Transit back on track after financial boost from provincial, federal governments
Calgary is about to get a much-needed injection of funds to help with the city’s transit projects.
Premier Jason Kenney told a news conference on Wednesday that Alberta will contribute just over $82 million towards projects for municipalities in the Calgary region, which combined with federal support brings the total to $159 million.
The funds will help offset the revenue that has been lost throughout the pandemic. The $82.4 million will be divided between Calgary, Airdrie, Rockyview County, Cochrane, and Okotoks.
“We are pleased to provide assistance to ensure that buses and LRT services continue to move around their communities in the province,” Kenney told reporters in Calgary.
A win-win for everyone
Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney said she knows how important public transit systems are to communities.
“Public transit is an essential service for students who are returning to on-campus learning, seniors accessing medical services, and vulnerable populations who may be re-entering the workforce to get to and from work or re-engaging in social activities,” she said.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek spoke at the announcement, thanking the provincial and federal governments for providing the necessary funding to move the city’s transit projects forward.
“I want to thank both the federal and provincial governments for listening to us and working with us,” she said. “And for delivering on the funding that we so desperately needed to make sure that people could get to work, to school, and to appointments.”
Transit is a key cog in the city’s economy
Gondek recognizes how difficult things had become for Calgarians even before the pandemic started.
“We heard from many people not only within our city but within the region that the economic recession had taken a toll on people,” she said. “They’d lost their jobs, were in precarious positions of employment, having to work two or three jobs to replace the one they lost.”
Gondek said many of these people also rely on public transit to get to their jobs and to put food on the table.
A step in the right direction
Gondek said the city’s transit system is starting to show signs of ridership recovery with about a 60 per cent increase in ridership over the last few months. While this funding helps address some of the issues, there’s still work to be done.
“I can tell you that this makes a significant dent into the shortfall that we had, and we still have a little bit more to go,” Gondek said. “But without this funding, I don’t know what we would have done.”
Gondek said when the city can’t address the shortfalls of its transit system, it hurts everyday citizens the most.
“We have heard from Calgarians that they’re already suffering from route shortages and that they’re seeing the frequency go down,” she said.
“Transit leadership did their best to make sure that they were assessing which routes needed to keep the service levels they had and which ones we could cut.”