Public transit infrastructure and services have been actively under attack over the past several years.
In 2017, the Sask Party shutdown the Saskatchewan Transit Company, which provided intercity bus transit in Saskatchewan. Last year, Greyhound pulled out of all but one of their bus routes in Western Canada, with no provincial or federal governments stepping up to fill gaps in service, leaving it instead to private markets.
In Manitoba, premier Brian Pallister eliminated a 50/50 funding agreement between the province and municipalities, leaving cities looking for budget shortcuts.
ATU Local 1505, representing transit drivers in Winnipeg, has been without a contract since January, with the city refusing to address scheduling issues and working conditions for drivers. On May 14, ATU Local 1505 took part in a job action, not enforcing fares for riders, resulting in a day of free transit for many riders.
In Ontario, Conservative premier Doug Ford introduced a bill this week to allow the TTC to be uploaded from the city to the province – and subsequently privatized. The group TTC Riders has been organizing with the Amalgamated Transit Union to fight this privatization.
The federal NDP recently announced free transit as part of their plan for a Green New Deal in their election platform.
But with all these attacks, it will take more than voting in October to not only restore, but expand public transit in Canada.
James Wilt, freelance journalist and author of an upcoming book on public transit for Between the Lines, explores pressure points for transit riders to organize around locally, including challenging car culture, and taking the streets back from Uber & Lyft in favour of expanding public transit.