The Province has revealed its plans for how $1 billion in combined federal and provincial government funding will be shared between public transportation agencies.
During a press conference on Friday, the Province highlighted that the funds – cost-shared 50/50 by both governments – will be divided between BC Transit, TransLink and BC Ferries as part of the Safe Restart Agreement.
According to the government, TransLink will receive $644 million, BC Transit will receive $86 million and BC Ferries will receive $308 million. The government adds that the money will be parcelled as a one-time operating relief payment.
“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 government says that BC Transit intends on using the funds to support municipal partners who receive fare revenue as part of the provincial-municipal partnership to deliver BC Transit services throughout the province.
“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,” said Erinn Pinkerton, president and CEO of BC Transit.
As for BC Ferries, CEO Mark Collins said that the funds have “great potential” to assist with operations as well as aid the communities served by ferry routes.
“This investment in the ferry system ensures commuters get to work, children get to school, visitors get to coastal communities and goods get to market,” Collins said in a statement.
TransLink has highlighted that the funds, in addition to allowing for continued service, will enable the organization to further enhance public health and safety measures on transit while ensuring they “can maintain a state of good repair across our region’s transportation network,” said CEO Kevin Desmond.
According to the government, all three agencies have seen significant impacts due to the pandemic, in large part due to steep ridership declines early in the pandemic.
“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,” reads a statement from the Province.
The division of government funding was determined by task forces established to develop and assess any relief proposals put forward by the agencies.
The Safe Restart funding still needs to be formalized by the government and each transportation agency.