Ontario Increases Transit Support for Niagara

Published on March 01, 2021

Beamsville - Ontario is providing $6,663,155 in funding to help municipalities in Niagara address the financial impacts on its transit system from the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is in addition to the $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities continue to deliver critical transit services through the Safe Restart Agreement with. During the federal government. peak of the pandemic, ridership dropped up to 90% of normal levels for some of Ontario's transit systems, which resulted in significant financial impacts for municipalities.

"This is great news for Niagara," said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

"COVID-19 continues to impact our transit system and this additional funding will ensure local transit can continue to operate and provide a vital service for those who need it."

"On behalf of Regional Council, I want to express our appreciation for the provincial government's continued support of municipal operations, including public transit," said Jim Bradley, Chair of the Regional Municipality of Niagara.

"It goes without saying that COVID-19 continues to impact nearly every facet of municipal operations, and this generous funding envelope will be put to good use ensuring that Niagara's residents can continue to rely on sustainable and high-quality public transit."

The additional $150 million in provincial funding means that there is a total of $650 million in funding still available to municipalities up to December 31, 2021, with extensions to December 2022 granted on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Ontario is calling on the federal government to match the additional funding announced today to help ensure municipal financial needs continue to be met.

"We heard from municipalities and we are responding to their need for more support as COVID-19 continues to result in lost revenue and additional costs for transit systems," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.

"Transit operators have done an incredible job keeping transit operating during this challenging time, and this support will help ensure there is reliable transportation for people can get to work or pick up essential items."

As part of the Safe Restart Agreement funding, municipalities need to work with the province to explore options to ensure local transit is safe, sustainable, affordable and integrated, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To support this work, Ontario is allowing municipalities to use Safe Restart Agreement funding towards new initiatives to make it easier and more affordable to travel between different transit systems, like adding capacity for on-demand microtransit and increasing fare and service integration across the region.

"We are committed to supporting our municipal partners in their mission to build back transit ridership when we come out of this pandemic,” said Associate Minister Kinga Surma.

"We recognize there’s an opportunity now to work with our partners to ensure transit is safe, sustainable and affordable, both during COVID-19 and as we begin to recover."