Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker has announced that three local transit services will receive a total of $184,789 in funding through the Safe Restart Agreement.
The government is providing the funding to help transit systems address the financial impacts 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 the federal government. 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.
- The Town of Hanover (the lead municipality for Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit, which also serves Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Chatsworth, Huron-Kinloss, Kincardine, Saugeen Shores, Southgate and West Grey) is receiving $27,106.
- The City of Owen Sound is receiving $155,449.
- The Municipality of Meaford is receiving $2,234.
“This is great news for our local communities with transit services,” said Walker. “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.”
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.”
The federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement is to provide up to a total $4 billion in emergency funding to help Ontario’s municipalities deliver critical services and the first phase flowed $700 million to municipalities in 2020. To date, $1.5 billion funding has been allocated.