The 314 Sunbury bus picks up passengers at the corner of 84th Avenue and 112th Street in North Delta. (James Smith photo)

The 314 Sunbury bus picks up passengers at the corner of 84th Avenue and 112th Street in North Delta. (James Smith photo)

COLUMN: Transit funding must be the foundation of our economic recovery

Delta city councillor Dylan Kruger calls for emergency funding to maintain transit service levels

The COVID-19 health pandemic has crippled the Canadian economy, putting millions of people out of work and local store owners out of business. The financial implications are far-reaching and will take years to recover from.

As the national conversation moves towards the topic of economic recovery, all orders of government must work together to keep essential services in place to aid in the transition. We can’t build a new normal if we don’t push hard now to strengthen our foundation.

In particular, I am concerned about the need for emergency funding to keep our public transit system in working order. Revenue loses and social-distancing means our public transit agency is bleeding over $75 million a month. As a result, this week we learned TransLink will lay off 1,500 workers, suspend dozens of routes across the region and reduce service levels across the board.

READ MORE: TransLink to lay off nearly 1,500 workers, cut service further as ridership down 83% (April 20, 2020)

Here in Delta, cancelled routes include the 391, 602, 603, 604, 606, 608, 614, 616, 617, 618 and 619 busses. This is a significant issue for those in our community with mobility issues who do not have access to a vehicle.

Tens of thousands of essential workers — including nurses, cleaners and grocery store workers — depend on our public transit system to get to work each and every day. TransLink is doing what they can to keep the busiest routes open, especially prioritizing routes that provide access to the region’s hospitals. Despite these efforts, more bus cancellations and reductions in service are expected in the months ahead.

TransLink has appealed directly to the premier and prime minister for emergency assistance. I understand that all orders of government have been forced to make very difficult choices in response to the ongoing crisis. On Delta council, I have had to take part in the toughest votes of my time in office.

Our provincial and federal decision makers, for their part, have the vital and unenviable task of working with health officials to keep measures in place to flatten the curve and protect our most vulnerable citizens. They are also working to ensure that those who have lost income have access to emergency funding for food and shelter, while simultaneously developing a plan to bring our economy back to life.

We cannot rebuild our economic house without first making sure our foundation is looked after — a functioning transit system is key to that. In the absence of emergency support, the TransLink Mayor’s Council will have to further discuss options to reduce transit services on bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and West Coast Express. We can’t afford to let that happen.

A local, grassroots organization called Abundant Transit has started a petition imploring our provincial and federal governments to fund transit as an essential service. Nearly 5,000 signed in less than one week. Please consider adding your name.

A strong local transit system is crucial for our economic recovery from COVID-19. Maybe not this week or this month, but soon, hundreds of thousands of workers and students will once again rely on TransLink to get to where they need to be across the region. A fully operational transit system must be there waiting for them.

Dylan Kruger is a Delta city councillor and chair of the city’s Community Liveability Advisory Committee.



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City CouncilCoronavirusDeltaTransLink

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

Just Posted

Corner of Fraser Highway and 152 Street traffic camera. (Surrey Cosmos)
One dead after targeted shooting in Surrey

Incident took place near shopping complex at the corner of 152 Street and Fraser Highway

(Black Press Media files)
‘Potentially damaging’ winds expected in Metro Vancouver

Wind is expected to pick up late Sunday night

Items collected from last year’s Ocean Park Food Drive. (Contributed file photo)
Ocean Park Food Drive expands, open to residents south of 32 Avenue

Homeowners south of 32 Avenue and west of 160 Street encouraged to put donations on doorstep

(Photo: Amy Reid)
VIDEO: 2020 Community Leader Awards recognize Surrey’s unsung heroes

They don’t often receive recognition and don’t necessarily have a high profile in the community

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Updated: Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

The Abbotsford Police Department is investigating a shooting on Adair Avenue on Saturday night. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)
Drive-by shooting in Abbotsford targeted home with young children, police say

Investigators believe home was mistakenly targeted by assailants

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

(File photo)
Vancouver police warn of toxic drug supply after 7 people overdose at one party

Seven people between the ages of 25 to 42 were taken to hospital for further treatment.

Most Read