Latest funding boost will be 'big help' as Transit Windsor recovers from pandemic

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The executive director of Transit Windsor is breathing a sigh of relief following a funding announcement by the province.

As heard on AM800 Wednesday, Ontario is injecting $6.2-million in gas tax funds into public transit in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent with Windsor set to get more than $4.5-million.

Tyson Cragg says, despite COVID-19, the province has maintained pre-pandemic funding levels.

"The gas tax is driven by the amount of fuel sold and also transit ridership, both of which have have been reduced over the last couple of years. If they had stuck with the formula as it's supposed to be we would have seen significantly less funding. So it's great news for us."

He says, while it won't cover all lost revenue due to the pandemic, it's certainly going to help.

"It certainly is helpful because the the ridership and revenue losses we've experienced would certainly be a lot worse without the gas tax funding and the COVID related pressures continue. We're hopeful that the province, and perhaps the federal government, will come through and provide that sustained funding as transit ridership continues to recover."

Cragg says the money will be used for day-to-day operations which continue to be impacted by the pandemic.

"Our ridership is heavily driven by students and, obviously, when the schools are closed we don't run that system. So it has an impact on ridership. So through December, we saw a bit of a dip down to about the 40% mark."

LaSalle, Leamington and Tecumseh will share about $685,000 as part of the announcement as well.

The province is allocating $375-million through the gas tax program this year to help municipalities with public transit.

— with files from AM800's Kathie McMann