www.cutaactu.caissue Paper 35
Tnt: a ll cn’ nmy
Public transit contributes to Canada’s economic health at differentscales—from the entire nation to local communities, and fromsociety as a whole to families and individuals.
The Canadian transit industry generates jobs, income and wealth for the country’s economy. Capital-intensive transit systems generate employment in construction,professional services, research and development, and other areas of the economy. Canada is a major producer and exporter of transitequipment, so a high proportion of transit investment remains inCanada and creates spin-off employment in manufacturing andrelated industries.
Public transit boosts the productivity andeconomic efficiency of cities by letting them function smoothly,encouraging more compact development, and enabling the betteruse of scarce resources including land, energy and financial capital.Transit helps communities reduce the wasteful and economically damaging impacts of congestion, which grow exponentially ascongestion levels increase.The ability of transit investments to influence land use is alsoimportant to the fast-growing urban centres that are looking for ways to better manage future growth. The creation of walkable,dynamic urban environments is a more vital objective than ever,as knowledge industries remain a hub of employment growthand as cities look for competitive advantages to help attract newinvestment. Transit also improves access to the labour pool foremployers in large and small communities alike.
Transit investments provide social benefits thatextend beyond those traditionally attributed to transportationprojects. Transit use reduces emissions from motor vehicle travel,helping to mitigate the impacts of poor air quality on the healthof individual Canadians and the costs of providing health careservices. By offering a safer alternative to automobile use, it alsosubstantially reduces the number of traffic collisions and the relatedhealth care costs and lost productivity.
Public transit is an important transportationoption for the majority of Canadians who live in urban areas.For people without access to personal motor vehicles, transitprovides a way to get to work, school, recreation, shopping andpersonal services. Commuting by transit is one-third to one-half as expensive as commuting by car in major Canadian cities, andthe decision to take transit can give a substantial boost to a family’sdisposable income.
The scale of transit in Canada
Here are a few figures to help readers understand the scale of supply and demand within Canada’s transit industry.
In 2008, more than 22 million Canadians lived inareas with transit service. In that year, transit ridership in Canadaexceeded 1.8 billion passenger trips, representing an averageannual growth rate of 3.4% since 2004. In 2006, the Censusfound that 11% of Canadian workers took transit to work, asignificant increase from 10.5% in 2001 and 10.1% in 1996.
The availability of transit service has increasedsteadily across Canada in recent years, with the number of revenue vehicle hours growing at an annual average rate of 4.4% from 2004 to 2008.
Capital funding for Canada’s transitsystems has also grown quickly, both to meet the need forrenewal and replacement of aging infrastructure and to make upfor many years of underinvestment in transit expansion. Totalcapital investment in 2008 reached $3.3 billion, up from$1.1 billion in 2004.
(billions of regular service passengers)
2005 2006 2007 2008
(millions of revenue vehicle hours)
Transit service provided
Transit capital expenditures
2005 2006 2007 2008
Value ($ billions)
C i t y o f W i n d s o r