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Committee approves increasing transit share of federal gas tax revenue to 25% (from 20) with 75% to roadways; to council July 16

The city’s Committee of the Whole voted in favour of a staff recommendation that the transit portion of the federal gas tax revenue go from 20% to 25%, with a corresponding reduction in roadway allocation from 80% to 75%. Over the years the split has varied, from 100% roads in 2005, to 70%-30% roads-transit in 2008. In 2012 the split was shifted temporarily to 80%-20% roads-transit to deal with a backlog of road repairs before roads slid from shave-and-pave into full reconstruction at up to 10 times the cost.

The gas tax money goes to capital expenses (for example new buses), not operating costs.

Over the last several budget cycles, it became apparent that funding available to the transit program was not keeping pace with capital needs. As a result of the timing of previous upper level government funding programs, a number of buses are due for replacement at the same time. Further, the federal government’s recent Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, in which the city has received a transit allocation, will primarily be focused on the expansion (not renewal) of transit assets.

As a result, the transit capital program (conventional and handi-van) is projecting a minor funding deficit in 2019. The deficit continues over the ten-year period and is projected to be $14.3 million by 2028. The annual need equates to approximately $4.2 million. Comparing this to an average annual funding of $2.3 million, results in a transit annual average infrastructure gap of $1.9 million

Changing the gas tax split for transit represents a starting point to make transit sustainable in the short term. Additional changes recommended by staff include funding transit capital assets which do not directly support growth in ridership (eg. information technology) through tax-supported capital, increasing the annual provision to the vehicle depreciation reserve fund (VDRF), and reallocating some of the provincial gas tax revenue from operating to capital.

Staff anticipates that further changes will need to take place once the transit master plan is complete, which may recommend growth in service thus additional capital needs.

The recommendation was approved by the Committee of the Whole July 9, and now heads to Council July 16 for a final vote. Residents can Register as a Delegation to speak at the meeting.

Read the staff report and Appendices here:

My Take: I fully support the increased allocation to transit from the gas tax, now that road repairs are catching up, and council has invested more in infrastructure funding across the board. I saw the shift to 80-20 allocation as a temporary move to save costly road repairs, and brought a motion this term of council, supported by the city’s Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee, to make the shift  to 75-25, but council voted that down. I’m glad for another opportunity presented by the staff report to make the change now. I’d also like to thank Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit (BFAST) who’ve long advocated for a greater share of the gas tax going to transit.

Written by 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.

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  1. No increase in transit funding is needed. it is only fair that the transit user portion be increased to 50% of the cost. Doing this will allow us to spend the Gas Tax Revenue on road improvements including better turning lanes and a better signal systems. The system we have how is the worst light signal system in the entire GTA.

  2. Marianne,

    In dollar amounts ( not percentage amounts) how much money from the Federal Gas Tax Revenue will be going to capital expenses including this additional 5%? How much is budgeted for capital expenses?

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