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Canada - British Columbia
NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2020TRAN0053-001810
Sept. 18, 2020
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Infrastructure Canada
Restart funding to support transit services people count on

VANCOUVER – People throughout B.C. will continue to have safe, reliable and affordable public transportation options, with federal and provincial confirmation that TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries will share more than $1 billion under the federal/provincial Safe Restart Agreement announced earlier this summer, cost-shared 50-50 by both governments.

“People all across British Columbia rely on public transit as a safe and reliable mode of transportation,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “The funding announced through the Safe Restart Agreement between the federal government and the province will ensure the continued operation of this critical service. Investing in sustainable transportation is helping communities across the province build back better from the pandemic.”

The Safe Restart Agreement will see TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries receive one-time operating funding relief. This will protect service levels across the province and ensure services remain affordable as part of BC’s Restart Plan. TransLink will receive $644 million, BC Transit will receive $86 million and BC Ferries will receive $308 million. Funding provided to BC Transit will be used to support municipal partners who receive fare revenue as part of the provincial-municipal partnership to deliver BC Transit services throughout the province.

“Our public transit systems are vital for people to get where they need to go – to work, to school, to shop or visit friends," said Claire Trevena, B.C.'s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Efficient, effective and affordable public transit is an integral part of BC’s Restart Plan, and this funding demonstrates our commitment to that.”

All three agencies have seen significant impacts due to the pandemic. Ridership declines early in the pandemic meant revenue plummeted. While ridership is increasing as B.C.’s economic recovery continues, financial challenges remain. The agencies have also incurred extra costs for making sure there are additional safety measures in place during COVID-19. This funding will cover losses to date and those projected through the current and next fiscal years.

The Province will formalize the Safe Restart funding relief through contribution agreements with each transportation agency. These agreements will contain terms and conditions that help ensure the continuation of appropriate and affordable services that communities depend on.

“Transportation is vital to restarting our economy,” said Bowinn Ma, Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink. “I’m very pleased with the 50-50 cost-sharing funding agreement in place today that ensures our transit agencies can continue to serve British Columbians. It will continue to take a collective effort from all of us to ensure we emerge from these unprecedented times a stronger, healthier and more resilient B.C.”

The provincial government has been working closely with BC Transit, TransLink and BC Ferries to fully understand the operational and financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as determining the funding needed to help ensure service levels are maintained throughout the province and they remain affordable.  

Quotes:

Kevin Desmond, CEO, TransLink –

“I very much welcome this important funding relief, which will greatly assist by covering the substantial losses TransLink is incurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It recognizes that transit is an essential service and will enable us to continue delivering reliable service levels for our region in support of BC’s Safe Restart, particularly over the coming months as our economy gradually reopens and our customers return to using transit more regularly. The funding also allows us to continue our enhanced public health and safety measures on transit and ensures that we can maintain a state of good repair across our region’s transportation network.”

Erinn Pinkerton, president and CEO, BC Transit –

“Having access to affordable and reliable public transportation is key to maintaining sustainable communities, especially during a public health crisis. This funding will allow BC Transit and our local government partners to continue providing essential transportation services as we welcome customers back onboard who are returning to school, work and other activities.”

Mark Collins, president and CEO, BC Ferries –

“We thank the federal and provincial governments for working with us to address the impact COVID-19 has had on transportation and on the ferry system. This investment can help us to maintain essential ferry service that B.C.’s coastal communities rely on and supports the economic recovery of our province.”

A backgrounder follows.

 
Contacts:
 
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Media Relations
British Columbia Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 356-8241
 
Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
moira.kelly@canada.ca
819 271-6218
 
Canada - British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER
For Immediate Release
2020TRAN0053-001810
Sept. 18, 2020
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Infrastructure Canada
Transportation agencies’ Safe Restart funding

TransLink:

  • TransLink serves 2.5 million people in Metro Vancouver and works in partnership with the region’s 21 municipalities, Electoral Area ‘A’ and the Tsawwassen First Nation.
  • In early April 2020, TransLink ridership had dropped by 83%.
  • One-time federal/provincial Safe Restart funding of $644 million will help close TransLink’s projected COVID-19 related operating funding gap in 2020 and 2021. 
  • This funding will also offset additional revenue losses by keeping fares as low as possible for transit users during pandemic recovery.
  • Safe Restart funding will also help ensure that TransLink has sufficient operating and financing resources to help manage any further negative developments in the near term. 

BC Transit:

  • BC Transit serves 1.8 million people in over 130 communities outside Metro Vancouver and works in partnership with 58 different local government partners.
  • In early April 2020, BC Transit ridership levels throughout  the province had dropped by an average of 75%.
  • One-time federal/provincial Safe Restart funding of $86 million will help close a projected COVID-19 related operating funding gap for BC Transit’s local government partners in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
  • This funding will also help ensure that local government partners are able to keep fares as low as possible for transit users during pandemic recovery.
  • Safe Restart funding will also help ensure that BC Transit has sufficient operating and financing resources to help manage any further negative developments in the near term. 

BC Ferries:

  • BC Ferries serves nearly 22 million passengers and 8.8 million vehicles through 180,000 sails over 25 routes.
  • Ferry traffic is at 80% of seasonal norms.
  • With this funding, it is expected service levels will meet or exceed the minimum service levels set out in the Coastal Ferry Services contract with the Province.
  • One-time federal/provincial Safe Restart funding of $308 million will help close BC Ferries’ projected COVID-19 related operating funding gap in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
  • This funding will also offset additional revenue losses by keeping fares as low as possible for ferry users during pandemic recovery.
  • In addition, Safe Restart funding will ensure discretionary sailings on minor routes remain in place over the next three years so people have a ferry service and schedule that they can depend on.
  • Safe Restart funding will also help ensure BC Ferries has sufficient operating and financing resources to help manage any further negative developments in the near term. 
 
Contacts:
 
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Media Relations
British Columbia Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 356-8241
 
Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
moira.kelly@canada.ca
819 271-6218
 
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect