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CPCS delivers transit equity study for Infrastructure Canada

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Study will bolster Infrastructure Canada’s analytical and reporting work to promote transit equity, and how transit agencies, rolling stock manufacturers and all levels of government can further address the persistent inequities faced by diverse transit users.

Why it matters: There is a general commitment in Canada to making public transit more equitable and accessible to serve and benefit everyone.

In brief:

  • CPCS created a Canadian-based compendium of information of current practices in transit equity
  • CPCS collected input from 24 Canadian transit agencies and rolling stock manufacturers
  • The study’s intended impact is bolstering inclusive decision-making in relation to rolling stock purchases and investments in urban transit projects

Systematic analysis of transit equity  

The challenge: To what extent is a holistic set of transit equity principles systematically applied at all stages of a transit project from planning to construction and operation? Do public transportation agencies, rolling stock manufacturers and governments work hand in hand to achieve this? 

To improve transit equity, Infrastructure Canada uses a methodology called Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus). Other authorities in Canada use similar types of equity analysis to assess how people of different genders may experience policies, programs, and projects. The “Plus” in GBA refers to other identity factors including but not limited to age, race, ethnicity, economic status, and physical disability.

Zoom out: Equitable transit systems benefit all Canadians, and “Infrastructure Canada is committed to ensuring inclusive outcomes of infrastructure investments.”

  • Equity is for everyone: Indigenous communities, people with disabilities and mobility issues, women, senior citizens, parents, young people, marginalized or underrepresented groups and even low-income travellers.
  • Barriers are far too frequent and limit inclusion on public transit, including trains or buses not optimally designed for the needs of diverse users, inaccessible elevators, poorly planned communications like visual announcements, lack of bus shelters and safety features, instances of racial discrimination, to name a few.

Transit equity is complex and multifaceted

This table shows that equity considerations need to cut across the planning, construction and operations stages of transit projects.

Making urban transit accessible and inclusive

Apply diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism policies to the planning of transit routes and services

Coordinate transit routes with social housing and affordable policies, and other government policies

Have policies, including regulations and legislation in support of accessibility and universal design, beyond provincial building code requirements

Commit to community engagement, consultation, and benefits

Rely on equity and inclusion procurement policies such as social procurement, giving preference for minority-owned businesses

Have employment equity hiring targets and policies for project construction

Have equity and inclusion policies and targets for hiring within the transit agency or rolling stock manufacturer, and when available, data on the current composition of the workforce, both overall and at the executive level

Equity considerations in fare and service levels once the transit is in operation

Investments in project/project portfolios that advance equity

Transit police initiatives related to improved relationships with indigenous peoples and other racialized groups

Initiatives to address harassment onboard transit for vulnerable groups

Housing, mental health and additions support for individuals who use the transit system for shelter



Ultimately, transit equity benefits everyone. As such, this comprehensive, up-to-date compendium will provide Infrastructure Canada with a pool of information, sources, and best practices, aimed at guiding their efforts in enabling increased capacity and development of high-quality analysis and reporting of equity impacts associated with transit projects in Canada.

Additionally, Infrastructure Canada has made the study report available to participating organizations to encourage sharing of information and ideas.

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