05/24/2013 05:30 EDT | Updated 07/24/2013 05:12 EDT

A Big Idea For Public Transit

Getty Images
looking out of the locomotive cabin at full speed. blurred motion.

For the next four weeks, I will be contributing weekly blog posts to TVO's The Agenda. My first post is on public transit:

Here's a question for you: what's the only G8 country that doesn't have a national transit strategy? The free-wheeling, car-loving U.S., perhaps? Hardly. It's right here in Canada -- where we continue to operate a patchwork system of transit funding that ebbs and flows as political leaders come and go and economic conditions rise and fall.

Governments across the country have made permanent commitments to so many things that are important to our lives -- health care, education, and support programs like employment insurance, to name just a few. While these programs can change over time, their core offering remains funded and operational through all economic climates and political changes. Public transit needs and deserves the same treatment.

We've long ago reached the stage where a permanent commitment must be made to the funding of public transit -- because its role in our economy is more important than ever. It allows huge numbers of people to travel around cities in ways that roads alone cannot -- and supports the density needed for a vibrant urban economy.

And let's not kid ourselves -- Canada's economy has become an urban economy. According to Statistics Canada, 80 per cent of Canadians live in urban areas. And while we're blessed with a strong natural resources sector, it's the urban centres that are the hub of Canada's economic strength. In southern Ontario alone, about one in five Canadian jobs is located within one hour's drive of Toronto City Hall.

Continue reading...