Wednesday March 15, 2023 | VANCOUVER, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
As part of avoiding the ‘death spiral’ that would happen by cutting back on public transportation, today Premier David Eby and Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) Minister Rob Fleming announced $479 million for the Metro Vancouver TransLink system.
They made their announcement at the Waterfront Station on Cordova Street in Vancouver. They were accompanied in the subway station by City of Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West and MOTI Minister of State Dan Coulter.
The funding is intended to help maintain employees and operations and maintain service levels for riders, which will further serve the goal of creating more lifelong transit riders in the major urban area that is Greater Vancouver and the lower mainland.
Addressing TransLink’s urgent financial needs will protect transit service levels and investment plans and provide reliable, affordable public transit that connects people to jobs, schools and essential services. This is toward enabling the transportation authority to plan for the region’s future.
Preventing higher fares, avoiding reduced service:
Premier Eby said he hopes the stabilized funding of TransLink will help prevent higher fares and prevent reduced service.
B.C.’s $479-million contribution will keep fares stable, support public transit infrastructure and services, avoid service cuts, continue providing free public transit for kids 12 and younger, and enable transit expansion plans needed to respond to growing communities.
Eby wants to see more housing built along the transit line routes. He said the Broadway extension will, when finished, serve to alleviate traffic on one of the busiest routes (to and from UBC) in the metro area.
The Premier did say that he’s disappointed with the federal government’s absence “but we will look for ways to secure stable funding for public transit”.
Part of the Vancouver city fabric:
“Hundreds of thousands of people rely on TransLink’s service every day to get to work, travel to school, and access all parts of the region,” said Premier David Eby. “Failing to act now would lead to higher fares, fewer buses on the road and reduced service across the board. We won’t let that happen.”
Like other major transit systems across North America, changing travel and commuting patterns following the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating costs are factors driving TransLink’s financial situation. Finances are expected to improve over the long term.
“The $479-million contribution will help stabilize the transportation authority’s finances and allow the authority to continue to advance capital projects in its 2022 investment plan, including TransLink’s battery-electric bus fleet expansion to 155 buses by 2025. The funding will increase service on TransLink’s busiest routes through strategic service reallocation, expand RapidBus lines to relieve congestion in high-growth corridors, increase active transportation investments and support transit-oriented, livable communities,” it was stated in a news release from the Premier’s office and MOTI today.
“Accessible public transit is critical for the region’s economic, social and environmental health now and into the future,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“The Province will continue discussions with the federal government on a potential funding partnership. However, given TransLink’s significant and immediate needs, the Province is taking action with this funding stabilization to address TransLink’s short-term operating funding needs, preventing layoffs and maintaining transit services that will create jobs and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, which benefits residents and visitors to Metro Vancouver,” said Fleming.
Discussion with mayors:
The Province is responding to TransLink’s board of directors and Mayors’ Council, call to action to manage significant financial hardship. Minister Fleming mentioned several times today that he has met with the mayors and heard their concerns, since becoming the Minister responsible for TransLink in December.
In the December 7, 2022 mandate letter from the Premier to Fleming as the renenwed Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (Fleming held that post under the previous premier), the urban portion includes:
“Our province is growing rapidly, and with that historic level of growth, pressure on our
transportation infrastructure has grown too. Time sitting in a car in traffic means time
away from family and friends, or time not spent helping to build a strong and secure
province. That’s why our government is emphasizing building the transportation links
needed to move British Columbians and vital goods around our province quickly,
efficiently, and in a way that supports our climate goals. Clean, fast, and efficient
transportation is what all British Columbians deserve, and what we should strive to deliver
With the investment, the B.C. government will continue to ensure Metro Vancouver has a robust and resilient transit service that strengthens communities, reduces commute times, connects people to jobs and affordable housing, and reduces carbon emissions.
Backbone of the region:
“TransLink is the backbone of the transportation network in the Metro Vancouver region and we know the authority is still under financial pressure,” said Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit.
“By investing in TransLink operations now, we can prevent service cuts and support the transportation authority as it transitions back to planning new services required to respond to a growing population. Public transit must be an accessible, affordable and convenient option for people travelling around Metro Vancouver,” said Coulter in a news release today.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West said that TransLink “would have faced cuts” without this additional provincial funding. The funding will help keep the system “reliable and affordable,” said West today.
Building on previous funding:
This announcement builds on the B.C. government’s consistent support for transit riders. Since the outset of the pandemic, the Province has provided significant funding to ensure the transportation authority continues to maintain service levels for users.
This includes previously announced provincial funding, in combination with federal support, that has amounted to more than $850 million. The Province has also provided unprecedented commitment and funding for transit infrastructure to improve service for people in Metro Vancouver, including $2.4 billion for TransLink’s 2022 investment plan.