Nearly $18 million in Gas Tax funds coming to improve York Region Transit

More than $17.5 million in Provincial dollars are coming to York Region to improve transit.

The total investment of $17,776,683, funding for which is coming from the 2023-2024 Gas Tax Program, was announced by Newmarket-Aurora MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy at Regional headquarters on Friday.

The funds are part of Ontario’s investment of nearly $380 million of Gas Tax funding across 102 municipalities to improve local transit.

“This investment is fantastic news for transit riders in York Region,” said MPP Gallagher Murphy, noting that the Government will “continue to invest in local transit to drive economic growth, make travel more convenient and connect people to the things that matter most to them.”

Echoing these sentiments was Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Sakaria: “No matter where you live, Ontarians deserve access to fast, reliable and affordable public transit. Our government is helping municipalities improve their transit systems now and for decades to come.”

The York Region investment is eligible for the purchase of new vehicles, increase accessibility, increase routes and expand service hours.

“As one of the fastest growing communities in Ontario, York Region’s more than 1.2 million residents rely on safe and efficient transportation options to access work, home, school and other destinations throughout our communities,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “On behalf of York Regional Council and The Regional Municipality of York, I extend thanks and appreciation to the Government of Ontario for their continued support and investment in our transit system. Through the 2023-2024 Gas Tax program, we can reinvest tax dollars into transit enhancements and connect residents across York Region.”

Added York-Simcoe MPP and former Ontario Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney: “Public transit is a key driver of economic growth in Ontario, helping people get to where they need to go, whether it is to work, school, or run errands. As more people choose to ride public transit, our government is providing York Region with the funding needed to accommodate growing ridership, while ensuring they can continue to deliver safe and reliable transit service for people in their communities.”

Funding for the Gas Tax program is set by the number of litres of gasoline sold in the province during the previous fiscal year.

Municipal Gas Tax funding allocations are calculated based on total transit ridership (70 per cent of funding) and population (30 per cent of funding), both of which fluctuate from year to year.

Last week’s announcement was timely as recent data has shown York Region Transit ridership increasing markedly over the last year.

Driven by more travel for work, school and leisure, 2023 ridership reached 21.1 million, a 36% increase over 2022 ridership, said the Region on Monday.

On-Request and Mobility On-Request services also saw significant increases of 40% to 106,419 and 47% to 333,978, respectively.

YRT, they say, “remains highly reliable” amidst changing travel demands with adjusted schedules, meeting on-time performance targets with 93% for conventional service, 97% for Viva and 94% for Mobility On-Request.

“Balancing increasing ridership, reliability and innovative initiatives show investments in the system are working,” said Mayor Tom Mrakas, who also serves as Chair of Public Works – Transportation Services at the Regional level. “YRT continues to enhance customer service, advocate for affordability, lower emissions and ensure assets are in good repair for generations to come.”

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran

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