Researcher says Canadian cities should prioritize service to sustain and strengthen public transit

St catharines bus

A transit researcher says Canadian cities should be nimble and prioritize service if they want to sustain and strengthen public transit systems in a time of declining ridership and labour challenges.
While cities like Montreal and Halifax are reducing bus routes to save money or deal with staff shortages, a transit and rail research consultant and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto says these decisions contribute to a transportation ``death spiral.''
Willem Klumpenhouwer says that when routes are cut and transit is less frequent or convenient, ridership declines.
When there are fewer riders paying fares, cities lose income and are inclined to further reduce routes.
Klumpenhouwer says this same cycle is affecting transit labour because as transit operators leave the job, remaining staff are asked to work more hours.
Shane O'Leary, the president of the union that represents transit operators in Halifax, says the city has been losing staff at an unprecedented rate as workers deal with extended work hours and frustrated transit riders who are upset by service reductions.