The Ontario government announced on Monday that it will be providing $150 million in additional funding to help municipal transit systems address the financial impacts of 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. During the 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.
“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. “This support will help ensure there is reliable transportation for people to get to work or pick up essential items.”
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.
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.