My name is Zanna Joyce and I am speaking on behalf of Functional Transit Winnipeg.
Functional Transit Winnipeg is a local non-profit citizens association. Our mission is to advocate for a viable public transit system that is frequent, accessible and affordable. I would like to speak to the Public Transit Operating Budget. I am here today to urge this committee to recommend to council to;
- Hold the line;
- Maintain Winnipeg Transit’s operating budget;
- Weather the storm;
- Be the heroes in this story.
I am well aware of the end of the Provincial funding guarantee for municipal transit agencies. Functional Transit Winnipeg has and will continue to fight to reinstate the Provincial funding guarantee. However, it is the City’s responsibility to maintain transit service in Winnipeg. It is the City of Winnipeg’s responsibility to ensure that its citizens have the ability to reliably get to work, school, get food, and get to medical appointments — to be able to move around the city. Access to healthy food, health services and social interaction through work or recreation are internationally recognized determinants of health.
We can pay for transit or we can pay for the social harms that come from a lack of it.
This year is a hard year, but we need to avoid a downward spiral of transit by making careful choices. If one year’s cuts causes reduced ridership, then justifying further cuts, it leads to further reduced ridership, and so on.
Winnipeg Transit has been at this tipping point for the past few years and I strongly believe this budget could send us over the edge. We have run as lean as possible for a very long time, so much so that the Transit Department received continent-wide recognition. But running so lean has left us with no room to manoeuvre in the event of this shock.
Transit isn’t responsible for all the economic ills in our society that have left people vulnerable. But neither should it deposit those problems in the lap of vulnerable people by extraordinary fare increases and service cuts which make day-to-day living more complicated.
Equally, we must continue to fan the flame of ridership-by-choice, by ensuring that greenhouse-gas reducing, efficient transit is available as a viable alternative for everyone. Winnipeg has made some recent capital investments in transit, with the corridor development continuing, but what is important to note, is the corridor is a road and not service.
As Functional Transit Winnipeg has argued for the past few years, Transit is a service and the operation of that service is paramount to investment in capital or innovations. Service is the key. And when budgets are tight, it is the service that needs to remain.
A different budget configuration must be found to address this difficult situation, one that does not rely on extraordinary fare increases and service cuts, so that we can still work to our larger transit goals.
Hold the line on service cuts and fare increases. Be the heroes.
Thank you for your time.
Dec 1, 2017