COVID-19 has forced Canada’s transit authorities to grapple with the twin challenges of public health logistics and declining revenues. The federal government is now commissioning research to assess public transit’s economic impact and investment returns on public transit infrastructure, along with gaps in spending and service that need to be filled.
Researchers are invited to submit proposals to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to examine how Canadians’ access to transit affects their economic and social well-being, and related topics such as best practices for transit planning, operational public health standards and the impact of economic downturn. Up to 10 grants of $30,000 will be available for knowledge synthesis projects, which are designed pull together existing research and data from multiple sources in various sectors to produce a comprehensive overview of current status and identify where further action might be needed.
“This project with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will give municipal leaders across Canada new information and tools so they can make smart decisions about public transportation infrastructure that will meet the needs of their communities today and well into the future,” says Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
Infrastructure Canada’s $33-billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program will commit the largest portion of available funds to public transit. A new COVID-19 related stream has also been added to the program, targeting pandemic-resilient infrastructure.
“The knowledge synthesis projects will leverage Canada’s capital in social sciences and humanities research to address changing transit needs and services,” submits Dr. Ted Hewitt, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council . “The resulting information in areas such as the impacts of COVID-19 and pressing transit, land use, urban planning, and public health and safety questions will help transit users, planning authorities and communities throughout Canada.”