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Burlington Council Unanimously Endorses Declaration to Ensure Viability of Transit during and after COVID-19 Pandemic

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*NOTE: Please click the link for the full minutes from the May 25, 2020 Burlington City Council Meeting — Post-Meeting Minutes – Regular Meeting of Council_May25_2020.

Burlington City Council unanimously endorsed, at the May 25 meeting, a declaration to urge the Government of Canada to provide urgent funding to assure the viability of public transit during the COVID-19 pandemic and to aid transit operators in rebuilding ridership.

The resolution (scroll further down this post to read it in full) was moved by Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman, and seconded by Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna.

BURLINGTON CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION:

Whereas, the situation of an unprecedented drop in public transit ridership provoked by the COVID-19 outbreak accompanied by massive revenue losses is affecting public transit agencies right across Canada putting in jeopardy their financial viability and future ability to operate; and

Whereas, the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) Canada’s largest public transport lobby, the membership of which includes most Canadian transit agencies including Oakville Transit, has called for urgent emergency funding to address the immediate liquidity issues of transit operators while providing financial stability while ridership rebuilds; and

Whereas, CUTA estimates as many as 40 per cent of systems may require bridge funding over the coming months requiring some $1.2 billion to help them keep the buses and trains running; and

Whereas, CUTA is seeking $400 million a month to keep services running as fare box and other revenue drop by up to 100 per cent; and

Whereas CUTA notes that it will likely take some time for transit operators to rebuild ridership to February 2020 levels during a gradually return to more normal economic activity; and

Whereas, Burlington Transit was experiencing a 14.2% increase in ridership from September 2019 to February 2020, due to the introduction of new service, schedules and a grid network, prior to the impact COVID-19 pandemic; and

Whereas, Burlington Transit is losing an average of $475 000 in farebox revenue every month as a direct result of the pandemic; and

Whereas, without a quick infusion of funds by the Government of Canada it is impossible to assure that the gains made over the past decade in growing the modal share of all rides taken via collective transit will not be lost;

Therefore, be it resolved, that Burlington City Council endorses CUTA’s request to the Government of Canada for emergency funding to provide immediate liquidity to transit operators and on-going funding to alleviate revenue loss as ridership rebuilds; and

That a copy of this motion be sent to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Transport of Canada and the Minister of Finance of Canada.

MY TAKE:

We have offered free fares to protect the health and safety of both our drivers and our riders, as well as allowing rear-door boarding and no contact in exchange of fares. With less revenue, we still have the costs of running our needed Burlington Transit service to take essential workers, employees and residents to where they need to go. As a result, we need our upper levels of government to help to maintain this service, while ensuring health of all of our drivers and passengers.

— Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ that are updated as new information becomes available.

A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.

To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.

We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to bit.ly/covidwallofinspiration.

HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:

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Marianne Meed Ward

Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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