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Coronavirus: TransLink losses estimated at $500M to $1.4B

New TransLink numbers show dramatic toll of COVID-19 on Metro Vancouver transit
New TransLink numbers show dramatic toll of COVID-19 on Metro Vancouver transit

Officials with Metro Vancouver’s transit agency are painting a clearer picture of how badly the organization’s finances have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At its annual general meeting Thursday, TransLink said daily ridership fell to about 223,000 people in April, and more than doubled to about 472,000 people by May.

READ MORE: Wearing is Caring: Transit riders asked to wear masks on Lower Mainland transit

That’s still only about a third of its pre-COVID daily ridership average of 1.5 million.

The steep decline in ridership has translated into major losses. TransLink said if Phase 3 of the province’s pandemic reopening plan were to start soon, it stands to lose about $500 million this year.

TransLink hands out 15,000 face masks in ‘Wearing is Caring’ campaign
TransLink hands out 15,000 face masks in ‘Wearing is Caring’ campaign

In a worst-case scenario, with a second wave of the virus, it said the losses could amount to $1.4 billion.

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TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said he still doesn’t know where funding to fill that gap would come from.

READ MORE: TransLink says ridership up 85 per cent from peak of pandemic

“We are working with the province, we’ve been working with the province very extensively for weeks now,” said Desmond.

Additional cleaning and physical distancing measures coming to Metro Vancouver transit
Additional cleaning and physical distancing measures coming to Metro Vancouver transit

“We’ve also had many many contacts with the federal government. We have a number of different ideas.”

Earlier this spring, TransLink issued about 1,500 layoff notices and proposed major service cuts to try and offset losses.

READ MORE: Progress stalls on Surrey/Langley SkyTrain extension due to COVID-19’s financial hit

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The cuts and layoffs were rescinded in mid-May as the province moved to Phase 2 of its reopening plan.

Premier John Horgan has hinted B.C. could move to Phase 3 of its plan as early as next week.