Last week, I asked for questions and ideas that you’d like to share with TransLink CEO, Ian Jarvis. Thanks for sending these along to me through the comments section of that post  and others. We got a bunch!
I would have loved to ask Ian to comment on all of your questions and suggestions, but he’s a busy man. Here are the ones I was able to ask him:
Question from Jack :
I think more private investment options as seen with the Canada Line should be taken into consideration. If you look at New York’s massive subway/underground system, various investors and companies manage it, not just one.
Ian -Thanks for your input, Jack. I agree that we need to continue to examine different approaches for implementing and delivering service. As with any of our strategies, we need to consider the tradeoffs in terms of impact on overall service quality and integration. You point to the Canada Line, and I would note that our HandyDart service are provided under contract as well as some of our Community Shuttle Services. You may want to check on your assumptions regarding New York – my understanding is that all the underground systems are operated in house.
Question from REIG :
Transit users have helped to reduce the region’s congestion and CO2 emissions, which are produced by automobile users. Thus, it’s only fair that automobile users help reduce the costs of transit users. In particular, monthly or annual vehicle licensing fees can have a progressive structure by being tiered according to the energy efficiency/emission rates of the registered vehicles. The goal of TransLink is to promote public transportation, which leads to a sustainable future for Metro Vancouver. This cannot be achieved until people fundamentally change the way they reach their destinations. The best way to do this change is to collect revenue from automobile usage, while increasing funding for public transportation.
Ian – I appreciate you taking the time to provide your perspective. As you are likely aware, TransLink has examined the implementation of a vehicle charge, or as we referred to it a Transportation Improvement Fee. The concept was to vary the charge based on the engine size, which was a proxy for environmental impact. Many share your perspective and many would disagree with your perspective. It is important that we continue the dialogue on funding to determine a mix that residents and businesses believe is fair and equitable.
Question from Riva :
I have to agree with Mike that TransLink should not be responsible for both roads and transit. There should be a separate transit authority with a separate transit budget.
Ian – I would ask you to consider a different perspective. Our overall goal is to improve the mobility for goods, services and people. An effective transportation network considers all modes – walking, cycling, transit and roads. Transit, cycling and personal and business vehicles all share our roadways – the fact that TransLink has a role in all modes is seen as very progressive by the many delegations that come to visit us each year. The fact that we have a role in roads and provide funding for roads enables us to influence the design and use of roads and bridges to integrate pedestrian and cycling use.
Question from Gary :
What is TransLink doing to ensure the maximum utilization of its trolley bus fleet? The only way to increase the use of these vehicles is to increase frequency of existing routes or to have capital projects to expand the network. Please do what you can to maintain this unique and emission free part of our transit network.
Ian – Great question, Gary! We want to optimize the use of our existing Trolley Infrastructure, and some preliminary work has been done to assess gaps in the existing trolley network along high frequency corridors. It’s important to understand the financial trade-offs required to expand the infrastructure. At a cost of a $1M per km price tag to expand the network, it’s a big investment that we want to make sure is the right one before proposing long-term expansion. However, of note, in 2005, we made a commitment to maintaining a trolley fleet by replacing it with new trolleys, and even added articulated trolleys. We remain committed to reducing energy use and emissions from fleet and facilities. We are also working with the City to make bus stop changes to enable us to make more effective use of the articulated models, and this requires capital funding as well.
Question from Xerxes :
Has anybody considered replacing the CNG buses with Hybrid instead? The CNG buses seem quite costly compared to the regular diesels and the hybrids.
Ian – We constantly examine the most appropriate vehicle types for our use and make the decision when we replace fleet. We have invested in the CNG’s and are committed to run them until they need replacement. Interestingly, we are finding that CNG engine technology has improved significantly since our last CNG buses were purchased in 2006, improving reliability and performance. Also, the price of CNG has dropped about 60 per cent in the past two years from $10.00/Gj to $4.00/Gj, making CNGs very inexpensive from a fueling perspective. Thanks for asking.
Getting answers and feedback to your questions is something we always do on the blog. The last time readers interacted with Ian was in April 2011 . Some of your questions and ideas this time around were about planning, so I’ll be getting feedback on them directly from our planners to share with you. Ian really enjoyed responding to your feedback. Let us know if this is something you’d like to do again. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and ideas!