An infusion of $6.6 million in transit funding from the province came as welcome news this week at Niagara Region headquarters and beyond.
“People across Niagara have relied on transit continuing to operate during this challenging time, and these new investments will help ensure our incredible front-line operators and transit workers can continue providing reliable transportation for our residents to get to work, school or access essential items and appointments,” said Matt Robinson, who serves as chair of Niagara’s inter-municipal transit working group and as director of Niagara’s GO implementation office.
The province announced Monday there will be a total of $150 million in additional funding available to help municipal transit systems deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A government news release said the funding is in addition to $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement.
During the pandemic’s peak, ridership dropped by as much as 90 per cent of normal levels for some of Ontario’s transit systems. The lost ridership had a significant financial impact on municipalities, the release said.
“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 Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney.
“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 to get to work or pick up essential items.”
The announcement specifically said the province will allow municipalities to use Safe Restart Agreement funding for new initiatives that make it easier and more affordable to travel between different transit systems.