THE Province announced on Wednesday that it is taking action to address TransLink’s urgent financial needs to protect transit service levels and investment plans, while providing reliable, affordable public transit that connects people to jobs, schools and essential services, enabling the transportation authority to plan for the region’s future.
B.C.’s $479-million contribution will keep fares stable, support public transit infrastructure and services, avoid service cuts, continue providing free public transit for kids 12 and younger, and enable transit expansion plans needed to respond to growing communities.
“Hundreds of thousands of people rely on TransLink’s service every day to get to work, travel to school, and access all parts of the region,” said Premier David Eby. “Failing to act now would lead to higher fares, fewer buses on the road and reduced service across the board. We won’t let that happen.”
Like other major transit systems across North America, changing travel and commuting patterns following the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating costs are factors driving TransLink’s financial situation. Finances are expected to improve over the long term.
The $479-million contribution will help stabilize the transportation authority’s finances and allow the authority to continue to advance capital projects in its 2022 investment plan, including TransLink’s battery-electric bus fleet expansion to 155 buses by 2025. The funding will increase service on TransLink’s busiest routes through strategic service reallocation, expand RapidBus lines to relieve congestion in high-growth corridors, increase active transportation investments and support transit-oriented, livable communities.
“Accessible public transit is critical for the region’s economic, social and environmental health now and into the future,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The Province will continue discussions with the federal government on a potential funding partnership. However, given TransLink’s significant and immediate needs, the Province is taking action with this funding stabilization to address TransLink’s short-term operating funding needs, preventing layoffs and maintaining transit services that will create jobs and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, which benefits residents and visitors to Metro Vancouver.”
The Province is responding to TransLink’s board of directors and Mayors’ Council, call to action to manage significant financial hardship. With the investment, the B.C. government will continue to ensure Metro Vancouver has a robust and resilient transit service that strengthens communities, reduces commute times, connects people to jobs and affordable housing, and reduces carbon emissions.
“TransLink is the backbone of the transportation network in the Metro Vancouver region and we know the authority is still under financial pressure,” said Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit. “By investing in TransLink operations now, we can prevent service cuts and support the transportation authority as it transitions back to planning new services required to respond to a growing population. Public transit must be an accessible, affordable and convenient option for people travelling around Metro Vancouver.”
This announcement builds on the B.C. government’s consistent support for transit riders. Since the outset of the pandemic, the Province has provided significant funding to ensure the transportation authority continues to maintain service levels for users. This includes previously announced provincial funding, in combination with federal support, that has amounted to more than $850 million. The Province has also provided unprecedented commitment and funding for transit infrastructure to improve service for people in Metro Vancouver, including $2.4 billion for TransLink’s 2022 investment plan.
Brad West, mayor of Port Coquitlam, Chair of Mayors’ Council, said: “Every day, almost 400,000 Metro Vancouver residents use our transit system. These are regular people trying to get to work or school, or go to a hockey game or a park, all of whom expect governments to keep them moving with good, reliable transit. I welcome today’s announcement by the Government of B.C. to help TransLink stabilize its finances because it paves the way for us as governments to work together over the next year to begin expanding our transit system again to keep pace with record-setting population growth, improve affordability and reduce greenhouse gases.”