2021 was a transformative year for transit. The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to keep ridership levels down, and public confidence in transit systems remains low. On the other hand, 2021 was a milestone year in recognizing the value of clean transit for Canada’s economy and environment, with historic investments from the federal government in accelerating the electrification of our transit systems. Transit remains the essential backbone of our communities, and CUTRIC is proud to have played a leading role in advancing low-carbon transit at all levels of government.
Since 2020, CUTRIC has promoted the pillars of our “Five-Point Plan For Building Back Better Transit” to outline a vision for building back better, cleaner, and more innovative transit systems as part of Canada’s clean, inclusive post-pandemic recovery. We were pleased to see many of these key recommendations reflected in government policy over the past year.
In March 2021, the federal government made a historic investment in public transit. Prime Minister Trudeau pledged $3B for a Permanent Transit Fund, which will provide municipalities and transit agencies with permanent and reliable access to funding for transformative transit projects beginning in 2026. CUTRIC wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, urging the federal government to move forward on permanent transit funding to accelerate Canada’s economic recovery, better connect communities, and reduce emissions.
The Zero-Emissions Transit Fund (ZETF) launched in August 2021 achieves many of our Five Point Plan’s key objectives. The ZETF will provide transit agencies across the country with access to funds for essential planning activities and capital projects to transition fleets to cleaner alternatives. CUTRIC advocated for creating a dedicated fund for zero-emissions transit projects and worked with Infrastructure Canada officials at every stage of design and development to ensure that the program would meet transit agencies’ electrification needs.
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We proudly co-hosted a transit-focused roundtable for the National Infrastructure Assessment, with our members and the former Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna, to discuss the long-term needs of zero emissions public transit infrastructure in Canada.
At CUTRIC, we understand the importance of finding new ways to stimulate and share ideas, highlight our members’ accomplishments, and profile our organization to top political and industry stakeholders. To that extent, we have successfully executed three conferences in 2021, with topics ranging from Zero-Emission Buses (ZEB)s, Smart Mobility, and Smart Rail. Our multi-day conferences have driven membership value while creating new thought leadership opportunities for both CUTRIC and our members – internally within the association and with esteemed external stakeholders who have participated in our events.
We are also proud to have launched our formal Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) Committee in January this year, a national forum for CUTRIC’s members to share up-to-date information and data related to ZEB procurements, deployments, and predictive as well as empirical data across Canada. Over 10 Committee meetings, CUTRIC hosted over 500 attendees, 35 member presentations, including from Infrastructure Canada, the Toronto Transit Commission and TransLink and covered topics such as battery electric buses, hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, lessons learned from ZEB deployments and the importance of electrical utility strategies in transit electrification.
We advocated for increased transit funding and smarter transit policy in various media publications throughout the year, including the Toronto Star, Environmental Journal, The Hill Times to name a few. Establishing the value of clean transit and the vital role transit electrification would play in achieving zero-emission goals.
CUTRIC also released three knowledge series on a host of topics to guide the sector & government, including Electrical Utility Strategies for Transportation Electrification, National Smart Vehicle Joint Procurement Initiative: Rout∑.i™ Predictive Modelling of Autonomous Shuttle Performance and Passenger-Carrying Capacity of First-km/Last-km Solutions, and New Mobility and Autonomous Vehicles: Impacts on Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Metro Vancouver. We urge policy-makers, academics, research institutes, and others to consider CUTRIC’s research and insights as resources in their work.
While 2021 was a milestone year, we know we still have far to go. We look forward to building on our accomplishments in 2022 to continue to advance transit electrification and innovation in Canada at all levels of government.