Canada's Federal Budget Boosts Transit, Municipal Budgets

Canada's new federal budget allocates $500 million for public transit and makes a "permanent" commitment to allocating a portion of the gas tax to municipalities for infrastructure-related spending. But is it enough?

"Many municipalities and transit associations applauded the Conservative government's $500-million boost for public transit in Tuesday's budget, calling the extra money a pleasant surprise.

The funds are set aside for construction-ready public transit projects, meaning initiatives either already announced or where municipal commitments were to be made by the end of March.

Projects allotted money include:

* The Evergreen Light Rapid Transit System in Vancouver.
* The re-establishment of a rail link between Peterborough, Ont., and Union Station in Toronto.
* New equipment and upgrades to dedicated rapid transit routes for the Aéroports de Montréal.

[As well, the] gas tax transfers to municipalities will be made permanent past 2014. The fund, introduced in 2004, provides municipalities with a portion of federal gas tax revenues that they can use on public transit, water and wastewater infrastructure and local roads.

But Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier said he wished more money had been provided.

'Big city mayors, we've been calling for $2 billion annually and what have they come up with? $500 million. Significantly short of what's required to get the job done.'

Vancouver's light rapid transit system is expected to cost billions, but it will only get about $66 million from the federal government."

Full Story: Cities, transit groups praise budget

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