TransLink losing $75 million per month, seeks emergency funding

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.


  1. Solutions??:

    1) Cancel the outrageously expensive, unjustifiable $8.5 Billion UBC Subway Line project; or

    2) Build the UBC (SkyTrain) Line above ground for (roughly) one-third of the egregiously high costs of building a subway… $2.8 Billion ..

    (And put the $$Billions saved towards paying (part of) Translink’s annual operating budgets* 2020-2022, and or paying off Translink’s existing MASSIVE debts of over $4.9 Billion (that requires Translink to pay nearly $500 Million in debt service costs annually)!!)

    * Translink’s 2018 operating expenses were roughly $1.2 Billion..

    On May 25-2018, Metro Vancouver’s Board of directors wrongfully rubber stamped the Translink Mayors’ Council’s requests for:

    – a 50% increase to Translink’s debt ceiling… from $4 Billion to $5.5 Billion;

    – Approval of Translink’s multi-billion dollar so-called “Phase 2 Investment Plan”…

    This “plan” is predicated disproportionately around building an $8.4 Billion, 8.5 mile-long subway line from the city of Vancouver’s Broadway and Commercial area to the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus….

    Nearly all of the design and construction costs of this planned $8.4 Billion subway are planned to be accrued by Translink (and other project funders- the BC govt and federal govt) taking on billions of dollars of new debts…

    At the time of the Metro Vancouver May 25-2018 board meeting, (and still today)…

    ….. Translink and the BC govt had not ever had an independent, engineering company analysis conducted of potentially building an exponentially cheaper ($2.8 Billion or less) above-ground (elevated) SkyTrain line along the Broadway corridor (from the Broadway and Commercial SkyTrain Stations’ complex to/ from UBC’s Point grey campus)- instead of building a subway line.

    An above-ground (elevated) SkyTrain line could be built from Vancouver’s Broadway & Commercial area all 8.5 miles to UBC’s Point Grey campus for $2.8 Billion, or 1/3 of the $8.5 Billion cost of building a subway along this route…. And, an above-ground SkyTrain line could be built more than 7-years faster than a subway line…

  2. Translink’s unconscionably expensive $8.5 Billion “UBC Line” subway project is based upon the UBC Line Rapid Transit Study….

    ->>> Pages XV & 47 (pages 21 and 71 in Acrobat Reader) of the “Phase 1 UBC Line Rapid Transit Study report” (by Steer Davies Gleave):

    … directed that the “Phase 2 UBC Line Rapid Transit Study”:

    …. would evaluate & report on potentially building a FULLY ABOVE GROUND Rail Rapid Transit (RRT) (SkyTrain) line from Broadway/ Commercial to UBC as an alternative to building a subway along this route;

    The “Phase 2 UBC Line Rapid Transit Study” contractor- Steer Davies Gleave- was not allowed to follow the Phase 1 Study’s report’s directives, & were prevented from evaluating & reporting on potentially building a FULLY ABOVE GROUND SkyTrain line from Broadway/ Commercial to/ from UBC’s Point Grey campus

    NEEDED: BC govt and federal govt actions:

    ->>> direct that SDG (or similar firm) evaluates & reports on the potential costs, scheduling & benefits of building a FULLY ABOVE GROUND SkyTrain line from the Broadway SkyTrain complex along the Broadway corridor to/ from UBC’s Point Grey campus, as an alternative to building an egregiously costly $8.5 Billion subway along this route…

    Translink’s 2018 Financial Info & (executives) Remuneration Report:

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