Tranzwatching Canada (Regina)
Making transit easier to use is an overarching theme of the conference of the Canadian Urban Transport Association, being held in the small city of Regina, Saskatchewan (metropop just under 200,000). I don't think there is a comparable organisation to CUTA in New Zealand, which represents ALL forms of public transport in Canada, from the big city subway operators, through to ferry and commuter rail companies, and bus operators in cities big and small.
Notes CUTA President Michael Roschlau,reported in the (Regina) Leader-Post , "It's not surprising that (Saskatoon's) transit ridership is quite a bit higher than Regina's. There are a lot of inherent geographical and demographic issues that help to shape the potential for transit in a community. Even Regina and Saskatoon aren't that similar. The size of a university, and even a bridge - a traffic constraint - can make a difference when it comes to attracting riders" . Roschlau also commented on the difficulty of forward planning especially for smaller communities when public transport is reliant upon fees and taxes which can fluctuate. "Clearly, our municipalities with their limited revenue sources are having greater and greater difficulty funding the transit systems on their own," said Roschlau. Splitting funding between user fees and taxes isn't sustainable, he said. ""There is a real need for a bigger partnership with the provinces and the federal government on a Canadian transit policy framework that puts the long-term dedicated sustainable investment streams in place."