TRANSLINK is seeking emergency relief funding from the federal and provincial governments to offset losses incurred for providing essential transit services during the pandemic. Without emergency funding, Metro Vancouver commuters are set to see unprecedented cuts to transit services.
“We’ve done the best we can to keep essential services operating for those workers who need it, to get to their workplaces, but we are losing $75 million per month and on our current trajectory, we will face cashflow issues within weeks,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond on Tuesday. “It’s a dire situation which will force us to cancel entire routes and significantly reduce service levels on all transit modes, meaning far longer wait times and much more crowding for customers.”
TransLink has been deemed an essential service by the provincial government during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, since mid-March, TransLink’s operating revenue has been cut in half. Emergency funding is necessary to ensure a reasonable level of essential service can be maintained while respecting safe physical distancing requirements. It is also necessary to ensure a rapid transition to full service can occur once the recovery phase begins.
“We need an emergency funding package from the provincial or federal government if reliable transit services are to continue for more than 75,000 people, who will otherwise be left stranded,” said Mayors’ Council Chair Jonathan Coté. “Essential workers have been relying on transit to get to work every day – that’s health care workers, childcare workers, service workers. Our transit system will also be critical during the COVID-19 recovery phase and we must ensure that it’s able to quickly shift back to full-service capacity when people start returning to work.”
TransLink’s revenue has declined due to reduced ridership levels, falling fuel tax revenue, and fare removal on the bus system to promote physical distancing.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, TransLink has:
- Reduced Bus service by 15-20%, while also reducing SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express services.
- Reduced the seating capacity on buses to promote physical distancing.
- Introduced rear-door only boarding and suspended fare collection on buses to protect bus operators.
- Introduced widespread and intensive cleaning and sanitization measures on bus, HandyDART, SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express.
- Deferred the scheduled July 1, 2020 fare increase.