July 10, 2021

Both U.S. and Canadian governments acknowledge transit’s role in recovery

Published by Chris Brickwood

After undergoing a paradigm shift in its primary operating model due to the global pandemic, leaders within the U.S. and Canadian transit industry are crafting multiple strategies to rebuild ridership and chart a sustainable plan going forward.

Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Investing in Canada Plan and President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan call for major investments in infrastructure, including public transit.

In June, the Canadian government announced the 23 recipients of the Knowledge Synthesis Grants, designed to examine, and synthesize existing knowledge on mobility and transit issues at the community level.

The goal of the grants is to lead to better, more strategic infrastructure investments, and are administered through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

“Mobility is freedom, but only if it’s efficient, sustainable and works for all Canadians. The researchers that the government of Canada are supporting through this initiative will be doing the work that will underpin evidenced-based investments and innovative decision-making,” said François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry. “It’s how we will transform Canada’s public transport systems to be the most equitable, sustainable, and effective, and help Canadians connect after such distant times.”

In May 2021, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced the recommendation of $2.5 billion to advance the construction or completion of 25 rail, bus rapid transit (BRT) and streetcar projects in 12 states, as well as other projects that may become ready for funding in fiscal year 2022. These projects were competitively funded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program.

“Across the country, communities are seeking to expand public transit as a way to create economic opportunity, improve safety, advance equity, reduce congestion and pollution, and lower the cost of living for their residents,” said Buttigieg. “These capital projects will improve life in 25 communities and are the start of what we hope will be a once-in-a-generation investment to modernize and expand public transit across the country.”
For communities not fortunate enough to secure major capital investment project funding, there are a myriad of short-term transit solutions that can improve efficiency, enhance the rider experience, and rebuild ridership lost during the pandemic.

Automated Fare Collection (AFC) offers transit properties a faster, more efficient operations solution with lower costs and contactless features to address pandemic-related concerns.

These solutions are versatile, flexible and provide full use of cloud-based technologies to address transportation payment solutions.

AFC allows transit users to pay for their trip with a balance on their fare card or electronic device. The passenger validates the card using NFC at an onboard or platform validator, located strategically in a station or on the vehicle.

The system could use GPS or other geo-located positioning systems to measure distances travelled for billing purposes or geolocation revenue producing adverts for the riding public.

These systems are developed by applying open architecture principles, allowing for autonomous functions, secure firewalls, and enhanced data security.

Advantages of AFC systems include:

  • Secure protection of revenue
  • Low threshold access for customers
  • Adds customer convenience for trips
  • Management access for trip analysis and reporting
  • Stimulates fare revenues
  • Is scalable and interoperable with other transit systems
  • Limits touch points for passengers and operators to decrease the spread of COVID-19

Payment options with an AFC system include smart card, Mobile NFC, Barcode,EMV (both bank and mobile) and virtual cards.

In addition to traditional pre-paid options, AFC allows account-based Smartphone ticketing, which offers advantages for manageability and system maintenance. In addition, the use of lightweight validators minimizes costs.

“Cloud-based solutions can empower agencies to be more nimble; maximize all the transit data they collect; and improve the efficiency, reliability, and safety of public transit systems,” said Michael Helta, Chief Innovation Officer for the Maryland Transit Administration. “Our long-range plan is to provide the best customer experience as possible and the best information to our riders, so they know what to expect. We want to build a service that is as reliable as possible and that utilizes our resources to their fullest extent,” he added.

In May 2021, the Canadian federal government announced the investment of $10.7 billion for transit projects in Toronto.

The funds will go to four subway projects: the Ontario Line, the Scarborough subway, the Eglinton Cross Town, and the Yonge North subway extension.

“Building public transit makes our cities move better, creates family-supporting jobs, and lowers emissions,” said Marco D’Angelo, Canadian Urban Transit Association president. “The federal government’s support of these crucial provincial projects will make the Toronto area less congested and make transit more accessible to more people.”

Of all the infrastructure classes, public transit creates the most jobs per dollar of investment and will help the economy recover from the pandemic. For every dollar that is invested, $1.50 in economic activity results.

For more information about transit solutions, contact us today.