TransLink turns to real estate development to make up for pandemic revenue losses

TransLink battling losses

TransLink is turning its attention real estate development as it attempts to make up for lost revenue in the pandemic.

The regional transit authority announced Thursday it was launching a real estate development program that would see it build both commercial and residential projects near transit sites.

TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn described it as a “creative way” to boost revenue as it tries to lure more riders back to the system after ridership levels plummeted at the outset of the pandemic. Its goal is to get ridership back up to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by this fall.

TransLink is projecting revenue losses of $216 million this year.

“We will still need to identify more long-term funding solutions,” Quinn said in a statement.

“But this program will improve people’s access to transit, create more transit-oriented communities and generate new long-term revenue to help us improve and expand our system.” 

TransLink’s real estate division currently oversees the acquisition of land for transit infrastructure projects, such as bus loops and SkyTrain lines.

It's also responsible for working with developers that wish to better integrate their properties with transit infrastructure.

For this venture, TransLink said it will be collaborating with both public and private partners to develop real estate projects

“By developing near transit, TransLink will be helping to create transit-oriented lifestyles and communities throughout Metro Vancouver," TransLink chief operating officer Gigi Chen-Kuo, who oversees the real estate division, said in a statement.

The agency said it would be looking to best practices in other regions, such as Paris, London and Hong Kong, that have implemented similar programs.

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