Rural Transit

A public bus on a tree-lined street

Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation

Transit is an important service, with clearly documented economic and social benefits, including access to services like health care and education as well as economic participation. Transit is also recognized as a practical opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In Canada the conversation around public transportation has been focused on urban areas, with little attention paid to the challenges and opportunity for transit in rural regions.

Rural transit challenges are reflected in the loss of services (e.g., Greyhound), the struggles some communities face maintaining local transit services and the lack of transit options in other communities. But rural opportunities are also growing, with new and innovative approaches being put into practice. 

Research Spotlight

Exploring Federal Funding of Transit Systems

This project started in August 2023 and is ongoing.

In 2023, the federal government announced Canada’s Rural Transit Solutions Fund—a program with dedicated funding aimed specifically at rural communities. As the initial intakes of applications were reviewed and funding announcements made, early observations were raised over the gap between what is needed and what is eligible for funding

This sparked a question about what projects were being funded, whether there are regional differences across Canada and whether the initial trends of projects funded by the Rural Transit Solutions Fund look different from previous transit funding programs.

Working in collaboration with the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University, Selkirk Innovates is leading an exploration into federal funding of transit systems.

Explore initial findings:

Navigating Rural: Place-Based Transit Solutions for Rural Canada

This project occurred from March 2021 to March 2022.

Despite the vital role rural transit can play, many rural communities struggle to maintain affordable and sustainable transit systems. Navigating Rural examined which barriers, innovations and funding opportunities affect the viability and sustainability of rural transit systems and how this varies according to place.

By identifying these barriers and potential solutions, Navigating Rural provided insights to aid in the design and implementation of sustainable and effective transit systems adapted to local needs and obstacles, as well as aiding in development of supportive policies and programs.

Access project reports, maps, presentations and policy briefs.