Passengers emerge from B.C. Transit bus in downtown Victoria, one of the cities outside the Lower Mainland served by the provincial bus service. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Passengers emerge from B.C. Transit bus in downtown Victoria, one of the cities outside the Lower Mainland served by the provincial bus service. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

COVID-19 transit crisis needs national response, B.C. Premier says

John Horgan calls for wage subsidy to keep buses, ferries going

B.C.’s COVID-19 public transit crunch is being felt all over the province, not only in Metro Vancouver where TransLink is laying off nearly 1,500 people, Premier John Horgan says.

Horgan told reporters in Victoria April 20 he raised the issue of collapsing transit ridership in his conference call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers last week, because it is beyond the province’s ability to keep full transit going in the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve seen an 83 per cent decline in ridership over the past number of weeks with respect to TransLink, a 75 per cent reduction in ridership for B.C. Transit in Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Prince George and other B.C. Transit communities, and a 91 per cent reduction in passengers on B.C. Ferries,” Horgan said. “We can’t sustain an 83 per cent reduction in ridership. That’s just not going to work.”

RELATED: TransLink to lay off nearly 1,500 workers in further cut

RELATED: BC Ferries further cuts sailings in response to COVID-19

Horgan said if Ottawa’s wage subsidy program can fund a return to work for private sector transportation such as airlines, consideration should be given to public transportation systems that depend on fare box revenue and provincial and municipal grants to operate.

Bus fare collection has been stopped so the few passengers using the transit system can board at the back of a bus and maintain physical distance from drivers and other passengers.

Among those passengers are health care and other essential workers who need to get back and forth to work. Jennifer Whiteside, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union, said as many as one in five health care workers depends on transit.

“Our members have limited transportation options to get to work, and they’ve already been facing lengthier commuting times as a result of previously announced service reductions,” Whiteside said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File Photo)
COVID-19: District of Kent responds to provincial health restrictions

CRCC limits schedule, Municipal Hall offers alternate services for those unable to wear masks

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:06 a.m.
Early-morning crash on Highway 1 has morning commuters in gridlock

Westbound crash occurred in Langley, west of 264th Street; left lane blocked

The Small Works display features work from local artists on wood panels. Panels are available at Ranger Station Art Gallery (File Photo)
Small Works submission deadline approaching

Ranger Station Art Gallery seeks local artists for upcoming display

Signs up at Hope Secondary School inform visitors that the school is a closed campus during the coronavirus pandemic. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Second COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary School

Fraser Health website lists exposure on Nov. 11 and 12

New Chilliwack Chief Ray Fust.
Chilliwack Chief Ray Fust in the mix for Swiss U20 roster spot

Fust is hoping to make the team that will compete in the World Junior Hockey Championships

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Phillip Tallio was just 17 when he was convicted of murder in 1983 (file photo)
Miscarriage of justice before B.C. teen’s 1983 guilty plea in girl’s murder: lawyer

Tallio was 17 when he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his 22-month-old cousin

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Most Read