(Photo by Jay Wallace Images)

Governments in Victoria and Ottawa have issued a joint funding announcement to keep British Columbia’s public transit services operational through pandemic-induced losses.

In an announcement Friday afternoon, federal and provincial ministers announced funding of over $1 billion divided between BC Transit, BC Ferries, and TransLink in a 50/50 cost sharing plan through the Safe Restart Agreement.

This means $540 million will be provided by the federal government and $540 million coming from provincial coffers.

A breakdown of the funding shows that $644 million will go to TransLink, $86 million is reserved for BC Transit, and $308 million will aid BC Ferries.

For each service, the money is expected to cover the operational losses to date and losses projected int the current and next fiscal year.

“This funding will allow BC Transit and our local government partners to continue providing essential transportation services as we welcome customers back onboard who are returning to school, work and other activities,” said president and CEO of BC Transit, Erinn Pinkerton, in a statement.

The funding is also meant to ensure that all three transit agencies can maintain necessary service levels at affordable prices.

In the first quarter of the fiscal year, BC Ferries reported a whopping $62 million net loss, after reporting $12.2 million net earnings in the same time period in 2019—a decline that demonstrates the impacts of the pandemic.

“This investment can help us to maintain essential ferry service that B.C.’s coastal communities rely on and supports the economic recovery of our province,” said BC Ferries CEO, Mark Collins.

Ridership on buses and ferries dropped significantly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic across the province.