Safe Restart funding to support reliable service, affordable fares for province of B.C.’s transit providers

Dec. 8, 2020
TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries have all signed agreements to receive a combined C$1.038 billion from the government of Canada and the province of B.C. under the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.

BC Transit, BC Ferries and TransLink have signed agreements with the province of British Columbia (B.C.) for Safe Restart funding, which will help provide people throughout B.C. with continued access to safe, reliable and affordable public transit as the province restarts.

“We British Columbians rely on TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries to provide us with safe, accessible and affordable transit service,” said Joyce Murray, federal Minister of Digital Government and MP for Vancouver Quadra. “Through the Safe Restart Agreement, our federal government is providing critical funding to ensure British Columbians who count on these transit services can continue to rely on them to go to work and for other essential errands and visits.”

Contribution agreements with the three transportation agencies have been finalized. These agreements set out specific details and requirements of the three agencies as they share in the C$1.038 billion (US$811.352 million) from the government of Canada and province of B.C. under the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.

“This significant, one-time funding demonstrates our commitment to the public transportation people rely on,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “This ensures these essential services are maintained across the province and that fares will remain affordable – providing certainty for people as we recover from these challenging times.”

With these agreements, people will have certainty the public transportation they rely on will remain available and affordable as part of BC's Restart Plan. At BC Ferries, this means no fare increase this fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, and future increases over the next three years will be limited to rate caps established prior to the pandemic. Minimum service levels and additional sailings to meet community needs will be maintained through at least the next three years.

“The federal and provincial Safe Restart funding will assist the long-term sustainability of the ferry system and the coastal communities that we serve,” said BC Ferries President and CEO Mark Collins. “This investment in the ferry system ensures commuters get to work, children get to school, visitors get to coastal communities when safe to do so and goods get to market.”

Any fare changes for BC Transit and Translink are capped at affordable levels through to BC Transit’s fiscal year end of March 31, 2024, and TransLink’s fiscal year end of Dec. 31, 2024.

“We thank our provincial and federal partners for this important relief funding,” said Kevin Desmond, president and CEO, TransLink. “This package will help cover the substantial net revenue losses we are currently incurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and allow us to keep fares affordable for our customers during this time. This commitment shows transit is an essential part of a smooth economic recovery.”

BC Transit President and CEO Erinn Pinkerton added, “The funding from the government of Canada and province of B.C. will allow BC Transit and our local government partners to continue providing transportation services our customers can rely on despite the impacts of COVID-19. Thank you to our customers, employees and partners for their ongoing support of public transportation in British Columbia.”

The province says it has worked closely with the agencies to fully understand the financial impacts on their operations arising from the pandemic, including additional COVID-19 safety measures and measures to keep fares affordable.