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Region set to receive $8.5M to boost transit recovery

Transit ridership is on the upswing this year following devastating loss of ridership and revenues in 2020 and 2021

Waterloo Region will receive $8,550,625 to help ensure Grand River Transit can continue to deliver safe and reliable transit services after suffering significant losses in ridership and revenue during the pandemic.

The Ontario government is providing municipalities with up to $505 million as part of Phase 4 or the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.

“As we continue to build Ontario, our government is stepping up and investing historic amounts in municipalities, including public transit,” said Premier Doug Ford in a press release Wednesday. “This additional funding will help deliver safe and reliable public transit for local communities both now and into the future.”

Phase 4 of the Safe Restart Agreement will help municipal transit systems address costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic between February 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.

Grand River Transit recently reported ridership is up to 80-90 per-cent of what it was before the pandemic, which in 2019 saw nearly 23 million boardings. 

In 2021, the number of people boarding a bus or train in Waterloo region dropped to 9.7 million. For the ION alone, ridership dropped from 2.6 million in 2019, to about 2.1 million in 2021.

The province says municipalities will be able to use their funding allocations to cover revenue losses, operating expenses, and provincial transit priority projects, including fare and service integration and On-Demand transit.

“Ontario has been a leader in supporting its municipal partners and we will continue to champion their needs along with transit users across the province,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation in the release. “This funding, on top of what has already been provided, will help ensure reliable transportation options are available for everyone, whether you’re going to work, school or the grocery store.”

The province says the funding builds on the more than $2 billion in dedicated funding for municipal transit systems the Ontario government, in conjunction with the federal government, has provided since 2020 to help transit systems across the province respond to the impact of COVID-19.

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