The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that public transit is an essential service for Canadians. The following recommendations set out a bold and ambitious plan to build public transit back better, as part of Canada’s clean, inclusive recovery from COVID-19. This plan will help Canada build the public transit systems, and the cities, of a cleaner, better future.
- Laying the right framework: investing in smart planning initiatives to guarantee smart, accurate investments in infrastructure
The Federal government should commit to a national program of neutral feasibility studies to ensure transit agencies have the funds they need to accurately predict the performance of new zero-emissions buses (ZEBs), and their associated infrastructure, as part of the move to clean public transit systems. This planning work is a critical, necessary prerequisite to achieving any targets that the federal government sets, including the government’s current commitment of 5,000 zero-emissions buses by 2025.
- Build up Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector: supporting Canada’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem of industry leaders
Canada is home to global industry leaders in the advanced manufacturing sector for clean transit, including Nova Bus, New Flyer, Thales Group, Siemens Canada, ABB, Hydrogenics/Cummins, and Ballard Power Systems. The Federal government should continue to invest in the Canadian clean transport innovation ecosystem, through critical programs, such as the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) and the Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF), to deliver transit users on time and ensure world-leading manufacturing jobs across the country.
- Build up innovative clean public transit: set ambitious targets for electric, hydrogen-fuel cell, autonomous, and other forms of public transit
As a clean economic recovery measure, Canada can build a better, cleaner public transit system with technologies of the future, including transit powered by battery electricity, hydrogen fuel-cells, and other innovative clean sources to transition away from diesel and other fossil fuels. To achieve the goal of 5,000 electric buses over the next 5 years, the Federal government should focus funding on the municipalities that are ready to invest in clean transit and will have the greatest impact on improving systems and lowering emissions. This includes supporting the country’s first permanent deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric buses in the City of Mississauga.
- Gathering data, sharing knowledge: using data to share lessons and improve transit outcomes
If performance data from transit systems is properly gathered and analyzed, transit agencies can learn from other jurisdictions by mandating the installation of logger systems on all vehicles. The Federal government should establish an Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) national data-trust for transit agencies and operators to access and share real-time analytics, optimizing fleet performance and lowering operational costs nationwide.
- Finding smart solutions for a safe return: investing in research to identify issues and pose solutions to bring back ridership safely
A clean public transit system will only be utilized if transit riders feel safe and comfortable. Research is needed to understand what issues and solutions will constitute a safe return to public transit. The Federal government should utilize the Canadian Research Council network to fund “Return to Transit” research initiatives that connect academia, transit agencies and Canadian manufacturers to address immediate pandemic-related transit challenges to build back better and safer transit systems.
- Build systems and cities of the future
- Make Canada a leader in cutting-edge, clean technology
- Support domestic economic growth
- Improve mobility and accessibility in Canadian communities/for working families/women and other marginalized groups who rely on public transit
- Build a more inclusive society
- Investing in long-term improvements; resiliency