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VANCOUVER - The David Suzuki Foundation is encouraged by the recent attention being paid to public transit funding in the lead-up to next year's B.C. provincial election. Today, the B.C. NDP released a statement promising it would increase the provincial share of funds invested in new transit projects from 33 to 40 per cent. This commitment is aligned with recommendations the DSF made in June 2016 as part of our report Breaking Gridlock: B.C.'s transit investment deficit and what can be done to fix it.

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"Today's commitment from the B.C. NDP, along with the B.C. government's announcement earlier this year to fund the first stage of transit expansion in Metro Vancouver, hints that public transit investment is likely to become a major election issue," said Ian Bruce, director of science and policy for the DSF. "With congestion clogging our roads and population growing rapidly, we need political leaders who will prioritize improvements to our transit systems."

Studies suggest Vancouver is the most traffic-congested city in Canada and that the cost of this congestion is upwards of $1 billion per year to the regional economy. Emissions from vehicles stuck in traffic also erode air quality and contribute to climate change. Road transportation is currently responsible for 25 per cent of B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions. Fast, effective public transportation networks can reduce these emissions.

"Public transit bolsters the economy, provides people with better access to jobs and social services, improves public health by bettering air quality, and reduces carbon emissions and traffic," Bruce added. "Investing in transit is a political home run for any party hoping to win the election."

Metro Vancouver mayors have developed a 10-year vision for transit improvements in the region. Phase 1 of the plan received funding from federal, provincial and municipal governments earlier this year, but the bulk of the necessary investment remains uncertain. If Phase 2 funding is not secured soon, delays could drive up the cost of delivering projects and lead to more traffic gridlock.

For more information, contact:

David Suzuki Foundation — Steve Kux: 604-374-4102
David Suzuki Foundation — Theresa Beer: 778-874-3396

September 15, 2016
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2016/09/public-transit-funding-emerging-as-a-key-election-issue/