Politicians descend on transit garage and leave $12.8 million behind.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 9th, 2020



Nine politicians trooped into a Burlington Transit garage and jointly announced that they were leaving $12.8 million on the table.

Stoltr - Kearns - Nisan at bus money

No social distancing with these three, Councillors Shawna Stolte, Lisa Kearns and Rory Nisan look on stoically as politicians from higher levels of office speak.

Three federal, two provincial and four municipal politicians.

All the money was for transit stuff.

Sue Connors, Director of Transit for the city, stood quietly at the back of the garage wondering when people were going to begin riding the buses again.

Up to last March Ms Connors had done a superb job of building a customer base that had grown by double digits – the wheels fell off when COVID shut everything down.

Transit was free once the buses started running again. The public has had to pay full fare starting in September.

In her now close to daily publication, A Better Burlington, Mayor Meed Ward spoke for everyone saying:

MMW at transit funding Sept 8

The announcement event was led by the Mayor.

“Today, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development and Member of Parliament for Burlington, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Adam van Koeverden, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport) and Member of Parliament for Milton; Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services and Member of Parliament for Oakville North–Burlington; were joined by Jane McKenna, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Member of Provincial Parliament for Burlington, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; Effie J. Triantafilopoulos, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care and Member of Provincial Parliament for Oakville North−Burlington; and Her Worship, Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington, to announce funding for six projects that will modernize and improve public transit in Burlington.

Connor, AVK and Gould - bus money

Director of Sue Connors looks on as Milton MP Adam Van Kxxx and Minister Karina Gould, MP for Burlington.

“Public transit users will benefit from the purchase of 12 new 40-foot conventional buses to expand the fleet over the next three years. This will make public transit more efficient and convenient for riders by increasing service frequency and enabling connections between bus routes and regional transit. In addition, five new conventional buses will replace buses that have reached the end of their life cycle, helping to maintain a reliable, high quality service.

“In addition, three specialized accessible vehicles will be added to Burlington’s fleet over the next three years to support the community’s need for more accessible public transit. Devices will also be installed on traffic signals and buses to help improve the transit system’s on-time performance, while the implementation of intelligent transit system technology will enable on-demand transit service to be introduced to under serviced areas.

“The Government of Canada is investing more than $5.1 million in these projects through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS) of the Investing in Canada plan. The Government of Ontario is providing more than $4.3 million, and the municipality is contributing more than $3.4 million.

That’s 12.8 million. Most of it will be spent by Burlington but not in Burlington. No job creation out of this bit of pork barrelling.

All the buses are gas driven – pushing the Connors dream of an all-electric fleet that much further into the future.

Where did the money come from and what will it be spent on?  First – it came from your pocket – then got passed back to you in the form of a grant to improve the bus service.

transit grant 1

transit grant table 2

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5 comments to Politicians descend on transit garage and leave $12.8 million behind.

  • Doug Brown, Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit, BFAST

    This looks like a very good deal for Burlington as 75% of the funding is coming from the feds and the province. The lack of capital funding has been a major obstacle to expanded transit service in Burlington. Keep in mind that generally, the City does not provide any money for transit capital in their budget – relying instead on a small share of the federal gas tax for the purchase of new and replacement buses and other capital costs. 75% of the federal gas tax goes to roads and only 25% for transit capital – a reduction from 30% made by the previous council.

    The pandemic has certainly led to a reduction in transit rides – but transit remains an essential service for many who lack access to a car – including many of our front-line workers.

    In the longer term, increased transit is needed to reduce motor car use and reduce green house gases. Motor vehicles now account for 40 % of Burlington’s GHG emissions.

  • Penny Hersh

    I have a few questions. Does the 3 year timeline indicated in the purchase of the 12 – 40 foot conventional buses apply to all the additional improvements mentioned above?

    Where will the funding needed from our Municipality come from?

    Will there be money available to hire the additional drivers, etc. to put these new buses on the road?

    No Federal or Provincial funding comes without strings attached – the question is can we afford this “gift”.

  • Wendy

    It still boggles my mind that the City is not purchasing electric buses ??? WHY !!!!

  • Phillip Wooster

    You’re right–it was “pork barreling”. I noted that Meed-Ward, a Liberal, was careful to list her federal Liberal pals first (by the way, what was the Liberal MP for Milton doing at a Burlington event) which is interesting considering Municipal Transport ultimately is provincial jurisdiction. Almost a PRE-ELECTION REPLAY of last year when Ms. Gould did an end-run on the province to bring money to the municipality (again provincial jurisdiction). Must be an election coming!

    Editor’s note. The federal constituency of Milton includes parts of Northern Burlington. Mr Wooster apparently doesn’t get out of town that often. Some fresh air might help.

    • Phill

      Mea Culpa–my error for not recognizing that the Liberal MP for Milton had a legitimate reason for being at this Liberal Pork Roast.