How is the pandemic transforming the way we move?

Joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe for our ongoing series of candid conversations – How is the pandemic transforming the way we move? – are Stephanie Cadieux, MLA for Surrey South, Surrey BC; Eddie Robar, Branch Manager at Edmonton Transit Service; Amina Yasin, Planning Commissioner at the City of Vancouver; Vancouver City Planning Commission; and Armi de Francia, Active Transportation Coordinator at the Town of Ajax and Founder of Transportation Equity Toronto.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Funding for public transit should be prioritized

Public transit is an essential service across Canada, yet these services continue to go underfunded. Public transit agencies remain dependent on fare revenue – this proved especially challenging in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as ridership plummeted.  This new reality begs the question of how best to fund effective, accessible transit, including whether fares need be charged at all.

2. Fare evasion must be considered through an equity lens

Amina Yasin explained how transit systems are not neutral, nor are the means by which they operate. For example, the policing of fare evasion poses a particular challenge, as she argues that Black, Indigenous, and racialized riders are often subjected to higher levels of surveillance and more frequent fines.

3. Transit must be universally accessible and affordable

Another prominent equity issue discussed by panelists is that of affordability. In recent years, a number of municipalities across Canada have made efforts to provide more affordable transit to low-income Canadians. Armi de Francia explained how, during and following the pandemic, we need to further the conversation around affordable transit options.

4. We need to think about who we are designing transit for and why

Stephanie Cadieux argues that cities need to fundamentally re-think the design around systems of mobility. This includes becoming more cognizant of who transit services are being designed for and why. Conversations around equity must become inherent to transit design in order to ensure that these systems are inclusive of all users – equity and mobility are inextricably linked.

5. Mobility is constantly changing

Within the last four months, the ways that people move have fundamentally changed and many of these changes will persist beyond the pandemic. Indeed, Eddie Robar argues that there will be no return to a pre-COVID “normal” when it comes to public transit. Other mobility options, such as on-demand transit, are also worth considering.