Assist transit systems, UBCM tells the B.C. government

Reduce reliance on farebox revenues, resolution says

Photo: Emma Crawford Hampel

Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates Sept. 23 called on the provincial government to develop a rebuilding and recovery strategy to assist provincial transit in the wake of losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution was approved by 93%.

A resolution said transit is an essential service in the province, providing mobility to support the social and economic recovery of transit communities. It said costs should not be downloaded onto communities.

Rather, the resolution said, Victoria should work with TransLink, BC Transit, UBCM and local governments to deliver a transit recovery strategy  to address the 2020 and 2021 financial impacts TransLink and BC Transit have already incurred and will continue to incur. It suggested reducing reliance on fares to fund the system, a suggestion echoing Sept. 22 comments at the annual meeting by TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.

Coquitlam Coun. Craig Hodge said early in the pandemic that transit losses could significantly impact local budgets.

“The financial impacts are devastating,” he said.

UBCM notes said with the recent $14 billion federal funding announcement there may be an opportunity to work with the province to secure a share of B.C.’s allocation to support transit at a critical time in the province’s economic recovery.