Working People Benefit Twice Through Public Transit

Blue Green Canada has always said good jobs and a cleaner environment go hand-in-hand. Little makes that case better than public transit. 

Some think of Canada as lakes and mountains, forests and islands. But for most people, it’s strip malls, sidewalks, and apartments. Most of us live in cities. They’re growing—and welcoming people from every corner of the world. But our roads are getting more congested and people are often forced to spend money they don’t have to get where they need to go.

Building public transit helps. It’s why we’re calling on the federal government to invest in public transit, and the people who ride it.

Building public transit creates good jobs

Toronto’s new Crosstown light rail line is creating about 4,000 jobs to build, with a commitment to make sure many of those jobs employ and train local residents. Ottawa’s Confederation rail line will create 20,000 person years of employment; and more than 2,500 jobs come from building Mississauga’s bus rapid transit line.

In B.C.’s Lower Mainland, an ambitious plan to get the region moving will create more than 40,000 person years of employment—and add $4 billion to its economy.

Which community couldn’t use those good, green jobs? Plus the jobs making trains or buses, steel or tarmac. It all adds up to thousands of reasons why it’s time the federal government prioritize transit investment now.

Operating public transit creates and supports jobs

Of course, transit takes people to run as well: drivers, conductors, cleaners and engineers, each of whom help keep our cities and their people moving.

Our cities need the help. The Vancouver and Toronto areas have some of the worst traffic going. How bad?  They are two of the top ten most congested cities in the Americas! This congestion all comes with a cost, too. Less time with family and friends, more stress, and more emissions that make our air dirty and climate change worse.

It’s also bad for our economy. Around Toronto and Vancouver alone, congestion costs the economy about $8 billion each year and it’s only getting worse.

That’s why investing in transit makes so much sense. We all win when it’s better, because it’s easier for workers to get to work and businesses to get their products to markets. That’s why we need the federal government to invest more in urban transit.

Public transit is about fairness

Since the 1970s, home prices in Toronto have tripled. In Vancouver and Toronto, the average price of a detached home is above $1 million. For many working people, homes they can afford to buy or rent are further away from city centres. Poor public transit forces people—often with lower-than-average-incomes—to pay much more than they would for a bus or light rail, to travel by car.

Car payments, insurance, gas, parking, maintenance…it all adds up. No wonder household debt is such a worry.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can give people cheaper alternatives if the federal government invested in public transit. That’s only fair. Because most of us live in cities, and they welcome most of the immigrants who now call Canada home. That’s worth some respect.

So we can create jobs building and operating transit.

Reduce the economic cost of gridlock.

Cut costs for people who can’t afford any more debt.

And clean the air and fight climate change while doing it.

That makes sense to us. It should make sense to Ottawa, too.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is the new Program Manager of Blue Green Canada.

Contact Jamie at  jkirkpatrick@bluegreencanada.ca.