Pandemic relief funding extended to strengthen public transit services

THE federal and provincial governments are extending financial relief to BC Transit and TransLink to help protect service levels while ridership recovers and to make sure B.C.’s public transit system remains safe and reliable.

BC Transit and TransLink will receive a combined $204 million to help offset the revenue impact as operators rebuild ridership. This funding builds on the federal-provincial Safe Restart funding of more than $1 billion announced in September 2020, which helped TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries.

“An investment in transit is an investment in the British Columbian economy. This $204-million support for transit will mean that British Columbians can get around in a cleaner and more affordable way. As we continue our recovery, support like this will maintain good, middle-class jobs and sustain a critical service to the public,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, federal Minister of International Development and Minister Responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.

Of the $204 million, BC Transit will receive $28 million and TransLink will receive $176 million to help cover ongoing pandemic-related operating impacts as the agencies work through recovery.

“We know people have been challenged by the pandemic in many ways and that an affordable and accessible public transit system is necessary to get people to school and work. This expanded level of support will give people the confidence that public transit is there to meet their needs,” said George Heyman, B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and responsible for TransLink. “A healthy public transit system is an important part of B.C.’s climate plan to reduce emissions and provide community and transportation supports in an economy that works for everyone.”

TransLink reports its ridership has recovered to approximately 67% of pre-pandemic levels, while BC Transit is reporting its ridership levels recovered to approximately 70%.

“We’re ensuring reliable and affordable transit service continues to be there for people to get to work, to school or for any other purpose,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Over the past two years, it’s never been more apparent how essential good transit service is for strong communities. We’ve demonstrated our commitment to quality transit with funding assistance unmatched by any other province.”

The latest federal-provincial funding agreement for transit agencies provides relief while transit ridership continues to recover. The federal allocation for British Columbia is $102 million, matched by the B.C. government to provide $204 million in additional pandemic recovery relief.

Kevin Quinn, CEO, TransLink, said: “The governments of B.C and Canada have been steadfast champions for public transportation throughout the pandemic. Thanks to new relief funding support, TransLink can continue to maintain much-needed transit service levels for approximately 300,000 customers who rely on affordable, reliable and sustainable transportation services every single day. While Metro Vancouver ridership is recovering, this senior government funding gives TransLink additional time to explore longer-term funding solutions that reflect the new needs of the region.”

Erinn Pinkerton, President and CEO, BC Transit, said: “This funding from the Government of Canada and Province of B.C. will allow BC Transit and our local government partners to protect service levels and focus on continuing to provide stable, affordable and convenient service to those who need it most. It goes without saying that these past two years have had a significant impact on communities across B.C. Thank you to our riders, employees and partners for their ongoing support of public transportation.”