With the B.C. economy expected to gradually start to re-open on May 19, TransLink has suspended planned service reductions and the 1,500 layoff notices expected as part of the cutting of routes.
“This is another important step forward for re-starting British Columbia and Metro Vancouver’s economy,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said in a release.
“The transit service provided by TransLink is essential to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in our region. We will be ready to provide safe, reliable transit service as people return to work. We are proud to be partnering with the province of B.C. to ensure transit service is there as the economy recovers.”
Last month TransLink announced a projected budget shortfall of $570 million to $680 million this year.
The province announcing on Friday it is pairing up with TransLink on a “comprehensive solution” to address the major financial shortfalls at TransLink. The hope is the federal government will come to the table with financial support for transit operators across the country.
TransLink will be restarting fare collection on buses June 1.
Based on the conversations taking place, TransLink and Coastal Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) say the planned service reductions set for May 18 will not be happening right now.
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MoveUP, the union representing workers at CMBC and TransLink, is applauding the decision to rescind the layoff notices. The union has been speaking out about the risks to the public – particularly health-care and other depended-upon front-line workers, as well as other disadvantaged groups – should transit proceed with the planned cuts to staff.
“As the union representing workers, we are pleased to see that our members will continue to be on the job and doing their part to support front-line workers and others in our communities rather than sitting at home,” MoveUP president David Black said.
“As our province moves towards the next stage in our recovery from COVID-19 and more businesses and services start opening up, we need to ensure public transit can maximize their service levels as much as possible while still following health and safety protocols.”
TransLink is now reviewing all transit service levels to ensure it is balancing the need to help people get around the region, with the need to maintain and respect enhanced safety protocols.
Further service and safety-related announcements will be be coming before the economy starts to re-open later this month.
“Today’s commitment by the province of B.C. to help TransLink keep transit service running on Day 1 of the B.C. Restart Plan is an important first step towards returning TransLink to financial sustainability in the long-term,” chair of the Mayors’ Council, Jonathan Coté, told CKNW.