Monday, April 27, 2020

TransLink: $710 million to $3.25 billion budget shortfall due to COVID-19

TransLink has been losing $75 million per month since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency in mid-March, but has still been providing transit service to some 150,000 unique riders each week. About 40% of people using transit today are “essential” workers.

At last week’s Mayors’ Council virtual meeting, TransLink staff provided an update and presentation on the state of transit service in our region.

The following map from the presentation shows the location of Vancouver General Hospital employees, 30% of whom rely on transit to get to work.

Home Location of 5214 VGH Employees - colour shows relative distance from VGH. Select map to enlarge. Source: VGH 2016.

Without transit service, these people would have a hard time getting to work.

As I noted last week, because of significant revenue loss, TransLink was forced to slash transit service last week. Due to these cuts and measures put in place to promote physical distancing on transit, transit capacity is 18% of what it was a few months ago.

It is not just transit service that is being impacted, road network maintenance and projects in our region are also being impacted. TransLink is responsible for funding 50% of the costs to upkeep the major roads in our region, and up to 75% of road project costs. This money is transferred to municipalities, but is now being deferred. For example, TransLink is responsible for 50% of the costs to upkeep 200th Street, Fraser Highway, 203rd Street, and the Langley Bypass in Langley City*. This will put a strain on municipal revenue which is already being significantly impacted due to the COVID-19 state of emergency.

TransLink has investigated four plausible scenarios of how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out over the next one to four years.

Four plausible COVID-19 scenarios. Select to enlarge. Source: TransLink.

Depending on the duration of the current physical distancing measures, and how people change their travel behavior as the economy re-opens, TransLink would face anywhere between a $710 million and $3.25 billion shortfall in revenue compared to what was forecasted before the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Transit and transportation agencies throughout Canada are in a similar situation to TransLink; a federal response is needed.

If the federal government does not help support TransLink, not only will transit service and road repairs be further eroded in Metro Vancouver, but projects like building SkyTrain to Langley could be cut. This cannot happen.

If you believe that transit and roads are important, please ask your MP and MLA to help.

In Langley City our MP is Tamara Jansen:
Our MLA is Mary Polak:

*Section of 203rd, north of Fraser Highway. Langley Bypass, south of Glover Road.

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