Coronavirus: TransLink ridership just one-third of normal, losses estimated at $500M to $1.4B

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

The cuts and layoffs were rescinded in mid-May as the province moved to Phase 2 of its reopening plan.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

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