In a matter of weeks, TransLink will face the decision of having to make significant cuts to its services if it does not receive emergency bridge funding for its operational budget.
New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote, the chair of TransLink’s Mayors’ Council, has warned that the public transit system could become “unrecognizable” after these unprecedented cuts to service levels are made.
However, on Friday, both BC Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there are no plans to provide public transit services with any emergency support funding.
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A petition launched by advocacy group Abundant Transit BC hopes to convince both the federal and provincial governments to change course.
About 75,000 people in Metro Vancouver still depend on public transit to get around for essential trips. This includes hospital and grocery store workers who need transit to get to work, and many without access to personal vehicles — both younger and older generations — who depend on transit to perform trips to the grocery store.
But even with a reduction of bus services by up to 20% and various cuts to SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express, TransLink is still expecting an average shortfall rate of $75 million per month against its $1.8-billion operating budget.
Specifically on the bus system, drivers have been mandated to no longer collect fares to allow for a rear-door boarding policy to enhance physical distancing.
Fuel and parking taxes and especially fare revenue account for over 60% of its operating revenues. But there is now considerably less vehicle traffic on the roads, and total system ridership has dropped by over 80%.
“Facing a mounting cash-flow crisis, the TransLink Mayors’ Council are now discussing options for ‘deconstructing the transit system’ in Metro Vancouver. This will harm some of the most vulnerable and essential workers in our society and make our post-pandemic recovery more difficult and unjust,” reads the petition.
To sign the petition on Change.org, click here.