VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –TransLink has suspended planned service cuts and taken back layoff notices as it works with the province to get a handle on its struggling finances during the pandemic.
The transit authority had planned to layoff about 1,500 employees and suspend more than 40 more bus routes by May 18 to cope with lack of ridership and revenue losses totaling $75 million a month.
It reversed those decisions following the release of the province’s restart plan, outlined by Premier John Horgan on Wednesday. The plan calls for a gradual reintroduction of services, with the second phase to begin following the Victoria Day long weekend. That includes transit services.
— John Ackermann (@jackermann) May 8, 2020
“This is another important step forward for re-starting British Columbia and Metro Vancouver’s economy. The transit service provided by TransLink is essential to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in our region,” Kevin Desmond, TransLink CEO, says in a release.
“The details of the financials are still being worked on between the province and Translink,” said Jonathan Cote, head of the Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Council, which oversees TransLink.
“But, no doubt, there is a recognition that there are signficant financial challenges facing TranLink. And this financial support is absolutely necessary from the provincial government.”
TransLink previously estimated it was losing $75 million a month due to an 83 per cent drop in ridership during the pandemic.
It was considering service cuts in addition to those announced last month, when close to 1,500 workers were laid off and bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express routes were reduced.
“What we were going to see in little over a week was a transit ghost town,” said Gavin McGarrigle, regional head of Unifor, the union representing Metro Vancouver bus drivers.
“We think that this announcement is a big victory. It’s a victory for all the people in the region who rely on transit in the region.”
CUPE 7000 welcomed cancellation of the TransLink layoffs.
“We’re happy to hear that TransLink has rescinded all lay-offs and that the provincial government has stepped up to the plate to ensure that the service remains sustainable and safe
for those who rely on it,” said Tony Rebelo, CUPE 7000 president.
“This pandemic confirms not only what a critical service transit workers provide to the public, but also the important role we play in helping to sustain and rebuild the economy.
We look forward to continuing to provide the public with a safe and reliable method of transportation, as we always have.”
TransLink previously reduced senior executive salaries and board member pay by 10 per cent and deferred major road projects and service expansions, while spending reserves.
The province and TransLink continue to call on the federal government for a national solution to challenges facing transit systems.