CBC Forum

How do we fix municipal transit in Canada?

Nearly $3.4 billion was put aside for public transit in last week's federal budget. How do we fix municipal transit in Canada?

$3.4B put aside for public transit in the federal budget, but the costs are much greater

CBC readers share their thoughts and ideas on how Canada can fix its public transit woes. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Nearly $3.4 billion was put aside for public transit in the federal budget tabled last week.

Mayors across the country welcomed the news, but when that money is spread across the entire country (and over three years) it is only a pittance. The Toronto Transit Commission alone has a backlog of $3 billion in repairs and maintenance.

Is the only solution more money? If so, from where? And are there innovative ways to reduce costs?

How do we fix municipal transit in Canada?

Readers gave us their thoughts in today's CBC Forum — a live, hosted discussion about topics of national interest.

(Please note that user names are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style. Click on the user name to see the comment in the blog format.)

"First of all, you get the people that use it to pay for it. Then you get rid of 50 per cent of the government managers and pay a bus driver bus-driver wages, not bank-manager wages." — 2centsmore

"Stop chasing this fantasy that mass transit has to pay for itself. It never has, doesn't and it never will, unless you raise the fares so high that no one will take it. Even Via Rail is exorbitant. It's time to stop believing that the car is king. I think if mass transit was more convenient and easier to use, especially in a lot of smaller cities, many people would use the car a lot less, or get rid of it altogether. I don't expect the system they have in Western Europe, but I do expect something better than the medieval systems we have here." — trevor999

"Honestly, we need to increase the subsidy given to transit systems per rider by the provincial and federal governments. The TTC, for example, receives a much lower per-rider subsidy than that given to other cities across North America. Currently, we expect fares to pay for the vast majority of expenses and that doesn't leave any room for expansion." — Jake Falardeau

"​We should charge tolls to all heavy trucking for each roadway and for all vehicles commuting that are not fuel-efficient, and apply every penny to efficient transit systems." — Ed

"A central authority needs to design a system that works for entire metropolitan areas, and then get it federally funded as an investment into that metropolitan area. Metropolitan areas produce a significant portion of Canada's GDP, so the return on the investment will come. The model of various municipalities trying to sort out their own transit issues via raising taxes on their own constituents has obviously failed and will never result in a system that works across entire metro areas." — george

"​The money is out there. It's just a question of priorities. As it stands, money that could be spent on public transit is currently being spent on the purchase, maintenance, parking and policing of personal motor vehicles. Canadians are collectively spending enormous sums of money on this inefficient and frankly ridiculous form of transportation." — Thomas

"To fix municipal transit you first need to change people's attitudes. Too many people drive because public transit is viewed as "for the poor and the working class." Driving has become a status symbol — one that is not environmentally friendly. I'm a middle-class worker, and when I tell people I ride transit to work the usual reaction is that I'm crazy to do so." — Derbydad

You can read the complete conversation below. 

Can't see the forum? Click here

With files from CBC's Lucas Powers