Federal government announces $540 million for public transit in BC

Jul 23 2020, 4:40 pm

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson was in North Vancouver on Thursday morning to announce a $540 million investment for public transit in BC.

This amount, he said, “will be cost-matched by the Province of British Columbia.”

This comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government is investing over $19 billion to the provinces and territories to help them in their restart efforts in amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the $19 billion federal restart package, a total of $1.8 billion has been allocated for transit funding nation-wide.

“People need critical frontline services, including public transit, to get safely back to work and build back up our economy,” said infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna last week.

Canada’s cities and towns provide those services. There’s no recovery without a municipal recovery. If our cities aren’t running, our economy isn’t running. The Safe Restart Agreement will help Canada get back on track.”

This covers transit agencies such as TransLink and BC Transit, but it is not immediately clear whether this includes BC Ferries. The exact level of funding for each agency has not been determined at this time.

Altogether, the provincial and federal governments are each providing $1 billion to BC municipal governments and public transit authorities.

Today’s announcement follows months of pleas from public transit authorities and provincial and municipal officials across the country for the federal government to provide emergency operating funding for public transit services.

Public transit authorities are struggling to keep up with safe service levels due to the collapse in fare revenue and other transportation-demand oriented revenues.

Updated revenue forecast models project TransLink’s cumulative losses for 2020 and 2021 could range between $544 million and $945 million in the best-case scenario, and between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion in the worst-case scenario.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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