Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

A man walks by a TTC streetcar with a printed sign 'We will get through this' on King Street West in Toronto during the morning rush hour, on March 16, 2020.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Canadian transit agencies are seeking immediate access to more than $1-billion in emergency federal funding and another $400-million a month to cover fare-box losses as long as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate ridership.

The funding request to Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna was made late Monday by an umbrella organization that represents more than 100 Canadian transit operators, including the biggest in the country. The Canadian Urban Transit Association says that some of its members could face urgent liquidity issues.

“Systems across the country are coping with an unprecedented ridership drop that’s caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” CUTA president Marco D’Angelo said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re asking the federal government to find a way to help systems access funds to make sure that essential transit can keep running.”

Story continues below advertisement

The latest on the coronavirus: Toronto cancels all public events through June 30; Quebec warns of equipment shortages

Canadian transit agencies, many of which rely heavily on the fare-box, are reporting ridership declines in excess of 70 per cent. In a number of cases they have stopped charging entirely – trying to keep riders away from staff for safety reasons, and therefore preventing them using the fare-box, or unwilling to make riders pay during a pandemic – thereby drying up their main revenue source.

A spokeswoman for Ms. McKenna noted that transit operating expenses are not normally eligible for federal infrastructure funding, but that the government is seeing how it can assist.

“During the current unprecedented health crisis, we continue to look at all options for helping Canadians weather this storm,” Chantalle Aubertin said in an e-mail.

“In our discussions with CUTA, we have been clear that there is currently no federal mechanism for funding municipal transit operating costs. However we are exploring ways we can help the public transit sector during this difficult time.”

She would not be more specific.

CUTA believes that $1.2-billion would be enough of an emergency fund to cover as much as 40 per cent of its member agencies running into severe financial trouble at the same time. And it hopes that such a fund could keep transit running until monies meant to cover ridership losses can begin to flow.

Transit agencies around the world are facing huge losses.

Story continues below advertisement

In the United States, where New York City’s MTA was reporting weekly losses of US$125-million, the government on Friday passed a massive coronavirus relief bill that included US$25-billion for transit agencies. More than two weeks ago, before restrictions on public movement really began to bite in the United Kingdom, Transport for London was already estimating its losses at £500-million ($873-million).

No Canadian city has as many transit passengers as New York or London. But even though the losses are smaller, ridership at the country’s biggest transit agencies have plummeted.

In normal times, the Toronto Transit Commission, the country’s busiest transit agency, carries about 1.6 million riders on the average weekday. An agency spokesman said that ridership has stabilized about 70 or 80 per cent below normal levels.

Montreal saw ridership on its subway, normally about one million on a weekday, drop 70 per cent by the middle of March and then slide further. A spokeswoman for the STM said that it is now down 89 per cent.

In the Vancouver area, TransLink provided numbers showing that over the past week the declines in boarding had hovered around 80 per cent. The agency normally carries more than 1.4 million riders on a typical weekday.

Leaders of these city’s transit agencies were either unavailable Tuesday afternoon or said it was too soon to discuss their financial situation. But in its ask of the federal government, CUTA made clear the difficulty Canadian transit providers are facing.

Story continues below advertisement

“Farebox and other revenues cannot be foregone without doing irreparable damage to Canada’s transportation networks,” the CUTA said.

“CUTA calls on the federal government to provide funding to replace 100 per cent of lost operating revenue estimated at $400-million per month. This support should be provided for the duration of the pandemic and until ridership regains its February, 2020, levels.”

The group is also seeking support to help cover the tab for additional cleaning and disinfecting products related to the pandemic, as well as the overtime costs of using them. These costs do not currently have a dollar figure attached to them.

Christopher Mio and Meghan Hoople found themselves jobless and wanting to help in the wake of COVID-19 isolation in Toronto. After flyering their neighbourhood with a free-of-charge offer, they received an outpouring of support and requests from people in need. The Globe and Mail

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Follow related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies