Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 12:15 PM

Council Statement: Transit Funding

The cost of diesel is having a major impact on the budget at Metrobus.  The current price of fuel is fully $1 a litre above our 2022 budget price. Based on this week’s price, Metrobus expects an overage this year of approximately $1.4 million.

Council fully supports public transit and ridership growth and is not considering a fare increase or any significant service cuts that would impact ridership at this time. As of this week, we are pleased to learn that ridership levels have returned to pre-pandemic levels, and with recent announcements extending the income-assistance bus pass program, we hope to see continued growth in those using the system.

On February 17, 2022, the Deputy Prime Minister and federal Minister of Finance announced up to $750 million in additional emergency federal support to address ongoing COVID-induced transit operating revenue shortfalls for 2022. Federal funding is being allocated to provinces and territories based on the same formula used for the Public Transit stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. This calculation is based on a mix of transit ridership (70 per cent weight) and population (30 per cent weight).  The allocation for Newfoundland and Labrador is $4,136,000.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Big City Mayor’s Caucus and the Canadian Urban Transit Association have all advocated nationally for this support.   

We now call on the Provincial Government to confirm that Newfoundland and Labrador will be applying for this important federal relief. 

This funding is conditional on provincial and territorial matching.   We have requested confirmation from the Province of its commitment to participating in the funding program recently announced by the federal government to provide support for public transit.  The funding from this program is desperately needed now more than ever due to record high fuel prices. The alternative is to either  raise fares and/or reduce service in order to keep the transit system sustainable during these challenging times.

While municipalities in our province struggle with the rising price of fuel, we ask the Province to confirm their commitment to applying for this matching funds program. Access to the federal funding will certainly have an impact on decisions in the St. John’s region and we are waiting on a response from the Province before options to address the budget shortfall are considered.