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Transit COVID-19 aid should help TransLink avoid cuts: CEO

FILE: A TransLink bus in downtown Vancouver. (CityNews Vancouver)
Summary

TransLink's share of the $1 billion has not yet been finalized, says CEO

But federal and provincial aid should be sufficient to maintain service levels, Kevin Desmond says

TransLink's ridership is still at about 40 per cent of pre-COVID levels

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) — COVID-19 aid funding from the federal and provincial governments should be enough to help TransLink avoid service cuts in September, although the regional transit authority doesn’t know how much it will receive yet.

TransLink’s share of the $1 billion has not yet been finalized, CEO Kevin Desmond told a meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Thursday.

But the aid ought to be sufficient to maintain service levels, he added.

“There is still a great amount of uncertainly,” Desmond said.

TransLink’s ridership is still at about 40 per cent of pre-COVID levels, he added.

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The federal and provincial governments announced a plan earlier this month to inject more than $1 billion dollars into public transit services across B.C.

TransLink had been losing around $75 million a month during the height of the pandemic, and had been faced with the possibility of bringing in job and service cuts for its 2021 budget if the joint financing hadn’t been announced.

Desmond told the Mayors’ Council the $540 million pledged by Ottawa earlier this month, and to be matched by the B.C. government, should be enough to eliminate the need for short-term cuts to transit services.

“We expect to achieve a firm understanding with the province by September of what the quantum would be and what the terms and conditions for that opererating assistance would be,” he said.

Earlier Thursday, TransLink released its assessment of near-term opportunities for municipal projects aimed at improving bus travel times around Metro Vancouver, while also improving the overall flow of traffic during the pandemic.