Statistics Canada said public transit usage is in a long-term decline nationwide because of more office telework, according to Blacklock’s Reporter. “The increase in work from home has reduced public transit use,” said Statistics Canada in a report. “The percentage of commuters using public transit fell from 12.6% in May 2016 to 10.1% in May 2023.”With this decline in transit usage, Statistics Canada said several factors can explain it. It acknowledged increases in telework reduced the number of passenger trips of former public transit commuters who now work from home. “By reducing traffic, such increases may also have led to some non-teleworkers to switch from public transit to car commuting,” it said. COVID-19 saw Parliament subsidize municipal transit operations. Cabinet budgeted $2.35 billion in special transit grants under the Safe Restart Agreement — the first direct federal subsidy of transit fares. Funding was prompted by the threatened layoff of 1,500 drivers and conductors by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority in 2020. Cabinet approved another $750 million subsidy in 2022. Finance Canada said this subsidy was a one-time payment. To respond to declining public transit usage, cabinet has proposed an annual $3 billion grant beginning in 2026. While subsidies should help, Infrastructure Canada said they were insufficient alone.“We heard the immense need for and the associated costs of major public transit projects cannot be met by governments on their own,” said Infrastructure Canada. It added private capital should be used by public transit agencies. Over the next few months, it said the Canadian government “will work closely with our transit partners on the path forward.”Statistics Canada said in a report in July fare revenues for all transit operations nationwide were running $46 million below monthly levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ridership was 22% below pre-pandemic levels. Urban Transit Association CEO Marco D’Angelo said at a House of Commons Transportation Committee hearing in 2022 ongoing subsidies would be needed “until the economy recovers and ridership gets back to normal.” D’Angelo pointed out operators such as the Toronto Transit Commission have taken as long as 18 years to recover from past declines. “Most agencies are expecting to find revenue shortfalls,” said D’Angelo. “Our members cannot be forced to make service cuts.”Statistics Canada said in 2022 transit ridership in Canada remains far below pre-pandemic levels, despite high gas prices and heavy subsidies. READ MORE: Transit ridership in Canada still much lower than 2019Transit operators petitioned Parliament for more subsidies to offset losses at the fare box. It said recent figures show transit revenues were the highest they have been since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.