Government to help fill transit systems’ operating shortfalls
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Five municipal public transit systems facing COVID-19 pandemic-driven revenue shortfalls are getting a boost from the federal and provincial governments.
The Manitoba government said it will set aside up to $13.4 million in next year’s budget for transit operating shortfalls in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Selkirk and Flin Flon.
“Our funding immediately leverages and enhances $20.7 million in federal funding, which flowed to the province earlier this year,” Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke said in a release Wednesday.
In total, $34 million will be allocated to public transit systems over two years, according to the Manitoba government.
The funding is being provided as part of an agreement with Ottawa, which said it would spend up to $750 million to support revenue shortfalls for public transit systems.
The funding was conditional on provincial and territorial governments matching the federal contribution and accelerating efforts to improve housing supply, in collaboration with municipalities, according to a release.
Clarke said the provincial government is committed to working with municipalities on shared priorities of “improving housing supply and affordability for Manitobans.”
Winnipeg Transit is projecting a $17.2-million deficit, including $6.2 million in lost revenue and $11 million in extra expenses, owing to lagging ridership and increased fuel costs.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the City of Winnipeg deferred comment to the province.
According to the province, the cash will be distributed to municipalities based on ridership data and financial information.
“The department is reviewing information submitted by the five communities with public transit systems… and will be advising them of their amounts based on this,” a spokesman for the province said in a statement.
“The distribution is not expected to vary significantly from past COVID transit supports that flowed approximately 98 per cent to Winnipeg, 1.5 per cent to Brandon and the remainder to the other municipalities.”
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.