Investing more in public transit will help our city thrive.
Public transit is crucial for people getting to school, appointments, work, the grocery store, and to visit friends and family. For some, it’s an economical option compared to car ownership. Some prioritize transit to cut down on their carbon footprint. Some simply prefer not to drive or have physical barriers to operating a car.
Before the pandemic hit, public transit was providing nearly 5 million rides per year.
One particular aspect of transit is hitting businesses particularly hard – the commute.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce recently issued a letter to Mayor Jeff Leal and members of City Council advocating for further investments in transit.
Businesses in Peterborough are struggling to access the workforce they need. According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Canadian Survey on Business Conditions Report, Q4 2022, businesses cited labour-related challenges as three of their top 10 barriers. More than one-third of businesses across Canada report significantly struggling to retain and recruit the workers they need.
It is a complex problem and will take multiple solutions to address. One area that employers have brought to our attention is the struggle many of their staff have getting to work via public transit. Of businesses surveyed, 57% responded that improved transit service would help them access their workforce needs. The biggest concern raised was route disruptions and cancellations. If an employee does not live within walking distance of their work and does not own a car, they need reliable service. Regular, last-minute bus cancellations make it very difficult to get to work on time, if at all. Many resort to paying significantly more than a bus ticket for a ride to work, sometimes multiple times per week. The added expense, uncertainty, and frustration at wasting their time leads people to consider other employment options.
Other barriers highlighted include bus schedules not fitting with shifts, the length of time it takes to reach their destination, and transit stops not being in convenient locations.
We have employers in our community where 30% to 50% of their workforce depend on public transit to get to work. Route disruptions and cancellations are leading to turnover as employees consider both shorter commutes and working from home.
The City of Peterborough is undertaking a review of its transit service. We would like to see the needs of our local businesses and workforce considered when deciding how we invest in transit and how we plan and schedule routes. When determining what kind of service to support, we would like council to consider how it will impact and hopefully enhance people’s ability to get to work. Our workforce needs safe and accessible transit stops in residential neighbourhoods throughout the city with convenient stops in commercial and industrial employment areas.
Recruitment and retention are huge struggles for many businesses right now and the issues are not expected to subside any time soon. We believe investing in a more reliable transit service will improve the resilience of our local businesses.
It is clear that public transit will play a vital role in the growth of our city. Investing in a more robust transit service will help employers generate economic growth, create a stronger workforce, improve the quality of life in our community, and help us address our climate change goals.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.