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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Finance and Governance

TransLink secures $200 million in tenth bond issue

We have some great news—we successfully launched our tenth bond issue in November!

This brings in $200 million to help finance capital projects as outlined in the Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation.

Did you know? TransLink is Canada’s only transportation agency to raise funds directly through Canadian debt capital markets. Since 2010, TransLink has raised $1.53 billion through bonds!

Funds will go towards financing our capital spending including fleet replacements and expansion for bus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express, as well as upgrades to SkyTrain stations along the Expo Line.

“Our ability to go directly to the capital markets with a solid reputation as a good investment means greater cost certainty for how we manage our debt,” says Cathy McLay, TransLink’s CFO and Executive Vice-President of Finance and Corporate Services. “Investors can put their money anywhere and they choose us. This consistent demand for our bonds also helps to ensure we maintain access to capital that keeps Metro Vancouver’s road and transit network moving now and into the future.”

In September, Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) reaffirmed TransLink’s AA stable credit ratings and in October, Moody’s Investors Service and Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) reaffirmed TransLink’s Aa2 stable credit ratings. Credit rating reports are available at translink.ca.

Both agencies highlight TransLink’s diverse revenue streams, solid governance and management practice, and track record of finding cost efficiencies as reasons for the high credit rating.

Author: Allen Tung

Join us on March 30, 2017 for the next TransLink Open Board Meeting

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All of TransLink’s board meetings are open to the general public.

Interested in knowing the ins and outs of how TransLink works?

Plan on attending our March meeting and get a behind-the-scenes look at TransLink’s mandate,  responsibilities, budget and more!

The meeting for this quarter takes place on Thursday, March 30 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at TransLink Head Office in New Westminster.

You can apply to speak at the meeting and find the agenda at translink.ca/boardmeetings.

Can’t make the meeting in person? No problem!
You can always watch our live streams on Periscope and Facebook.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Fare Review Phase 1 results are in!

Fare review graphic
In May and June of 2016, we asked riders and others across the region to tell us what they would like to see in a new transit fare system.

Nearly 30,000 people participated!

After going through all of the online surveys, feedback from open houses and workshops, here’s what you had to say:

  • Nearly two of every three people disagreed the current fare system works well.
  • More than seven in ten people who responded to the survey said there should be more fare product options for different periods of time ie. weekly or multi-day pass.
  • Almost half of survey respondents said the 90-minute transfer window is not long enough.

Here are the top six priorities survey respondents want to see in a fare system:

1.   Make fares lower for people who use transit frequently

2.   Make fares lower for shorter distance trips

3.   Provide more fare product options for different periods of time

4.   More fare product options to make transit more affordable for families

5.   Make it easier to understand and predict how much you’ll pay

6.   Make fares lower for people with less ability to pay

Next Steps

In early 2017, TransLink will launch Phase 2 of the Transit Fare Review.

We will use the feedback from Phase 1 to help define and evaluate the options for varying fares by distance travelled, time of travel and service type.

We will also begin to map out the options for different types of fare products and passes, user discounts and rules around transfers between services.

You can read the full report here.

Author: Emma Keeler-Dugas

TransLink secures $150 million in ninth bond issue

2013 Bus Service Performance Review

Some great financial news for TransLink!

TransLink has successfully launched its ninth bond issue in November.

This brings in $150 million for financing capital projects as outlined in the 10-year Investment Plan for Metro Vancouver – Phase One of which was approved by the Mayors’ Council and TransLink Board last month.

This money will directly aide in the implementation of many transit projects including expansions of the network.

Did you know??

TransLink is Canada’s only transportation agency to raise funds directly through Canadian debt capital markets. TransLink has raised $1.33 billion since 2010.

“Our ability to go directly to the capital markets with a solid reputation as a good investment means greater cost certainty for how we manage our debt,” said Cathy McLay, TransLink CFO EVP, Finance and Corporate Services. “Investors can put their money anywhere and they choose us. This consistent demand for our bonds also helps to ensure we maintain access to capital that keeps Metro Vancouver’s road and transit network moving now and into the future.”

In October, Moody’s Investors Service and Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS) reaffirmed TransLink’s Aa2 and AA stable credit ratings.

Both agencies highlight TransLink’s diverse revenue streams, solid governance and management practice, and track record of finding cost efficiencies as reasons for the high credit rating.

If you’d like to look further into our credit rating reports, they are available at translink.ca.

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink’s next Open Board Meeting is December 8, 2016

UPDATE: In case you missed the meeting, here’s the video of it.

Thursday, December 8 at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at TransLink Head Office in New Westminster.

You can apply to speak at the meeting and find the agenda on our website.

Can’t make the meeting in person? You can always watch our live streams on Periscope and Facebook and follow along with the .pdf of the agenda!

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Author: Adrienne Coling

Come out to TransLink’s Open Board Meeting on September 23, 2016

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You are invited to TransLink’s next Open Board Meeting!

Attending this meeting gives the general public a chance to see behind-the-scenes on matters relating to TransLink’s mandate and responsibilities

The meeting takes place on Friday, September 23 at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at TransLink Head Office in New Westminster.

Click here for more information. You can apply to speak at the meeting and find the agenda on our website.

UPDATE: Here’s a recording of the board meeting!

Author: Adrienne Coling

Transit funding announcement for B.C.

Today is big day for transit in Metro Vancouver and all across British Columbia!

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier Christy Clark have announced that they have signed an agreement resulting in more than $900 million being invested – by the Government of Canada, British Columbia and municipalities – in public transit projects across the province.

So, what does this mean for transit in your community?

Take a look at the plan for the first phase of investment in our region:

Metro Vancouver TransLink Phase 1 of Investing in Canada includes:

  • The purchase of additional SkyTrain vehicles for the Expo, Millennium, and Canada Lines
  • A new West Coast Express locomotive
  • A new SeaBus
  • Upgrades to SkyTrain stations
  • Design and planning for Rapid Transit South of Fraser and the Millennium Line Extension along Broadway

(From the office of the B.C. Premier)

You can read the press releases from the TransLink Mayors’ Council, the province and the Federal government.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Join us for TransLink’s AGM on June 23, 2016

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Each year, TransLink holds our Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The AGM is where TransLink and its operating companies review highlights of the past year in transit from financial to operational milestones, our latest Annual Report and a whole lot more.

We also open the floor to questions from riders and community members just like you!

Our June Open Board Meeting will follow the AGM after a brief break.

Details:

June 23, 2016
Annual General Meeting
9:00 – 9:45 a.m.
Open Board Meeting 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
TransLink Head Office
400-287 Nelson’s Court, New Westminster

 Unable to attend? Not to worry!
Both events will be filmed and available on translink.ca.

**UPDATE**

TransLink 2015 Annual General Meeting

You can also review our AGM videos for the past give years here.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Doug Allen on Voice of BC!

You may have heard, that come early August, our Interim CEO, Doug Allen will be leaving.

At this time our current CFO Cathy McLay will become Acting CEO as we continue our search for a permanent replacement.

With just a few weeks left until Doug bids us adieu, he joined Vaughn Palmer on “Voice of BC” to discuss his six-month stint at TransLink.

Chatting with Vaughn about the search for a new CEO, the transit plebiscite and TransLink governance, Doug spoke to a number of important transportation issues.

Growing transit and transportation needs in the Metro Vancouver were also apart of this conversation, as was the exploration of potential funding options.

All in all, the video gives you a good look at Doug Allen’s role over the past six-months at TransLink and his take on current transit matters!

Author: Laura Tennant

A recap of TransLink’s 2014 AGM

TransLink AGM 2014!

TransLink AGM 2014 took place at the Anvil Centre June 26.

In case you weren’t able to attend our annual general meeting for 2014 last week, fear not!

Here is a a video of the event including employee speakers, presentations and questions from attendees.

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink 2014 AGM

From Left to Right (Doug Allen, Interim CEO; Barry Forbes, Board Vice-Chair; Cathy McLay, CFO and Executive Vice-President, Finance and Corporate Services; Sandra Hentzen Executive Vice President, Human Resources; Angus MacIntrye, Retired Bus Operator

From Left to Right (Doug Allen, Interim CEO; Barry Forbes, TransLink Board Vice-Chair; Don Rose, TransLink Board Member; Sandra Hentzen, Executive Vice President, Human Resources; Angus McIntyre, Retired Bus Operator;  Cathy McLay, CFO and Executive Vice-President, Finance and Corporate Services; Robin Chakrabarti, Board Member

It was a beautiful morning at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster as VP of Communications and Customer Engagement, Colleen Brennan, welcomed all guests to our annual general meeting .

The meeting was open to the public and discussed how we did last year both operationally and financially, where we are now and where we’re going as a transit system heading into the future.

TransLink’s achievements in efficiency and sustainability were presented by CFO Cathy McClay.

Take a look at some of the highlights Cathy shared:

  • The 2014 Budget included over $64 million in cost efficiencies and revenue improvements, of which we exceeded by over $5 million.
  • We also achieved slightly over $38 million in one-time savings from contributions from developers and improved buying practices.
  • Since 2012, we’ve realized about $240 million in cost savings
  • Since 2010, we’ve kept expenditures below the rate of inflation, with only 1.2 per cent compounded annual growth
  • TransLink plays a leadership role in sustainability.
  • Our anti-idling program for buses has saved 567 thousand litres of fuel, accounting for a savings of $750k last year alone.
  • We also decreased energy consumption across our facilities by 2.3 per cent compared to 2013.

Interim CEO Doug Allen spoke about how TransLink is continuing to implement recommendations from the MacNeil report of 2014 to better serve our customers across the region.

He also talked about our very successful and necessary HandyDART program.

This past year, we have expanded the use of taxis to get more people with mobility challenges where they need to go resulting in a 60 per cent reduction in trip denials for HandyDART service.

We delivered more than one million trips on HandyDART vehicles and 74,361 trips by taxi.

Everyone in attendance was able to hear some stories from wonderful employees across TransLink and its operating companies.

Mechanical engineer with BCRTC, Matt Doyle works behind the scenes to make sure SkyTrain is running smoothly.

“I enjoy going to work because I provide a necessary public service and I know it makes a difference – to thousands of people – every day.” – Matt

Sabrina Lau Texier, “plan-gineer” (planner in the engineering department) extraordinaire told us her story of why she does the work she does.

“I choose to work in transit because I believe very strongly in what this organization is trying to do – both at work, and outside the office.” – Sabrina

Desiree Gill has been a bus operator out of Vancouver Transit Centre with CMBC for 6 years and she loves her job, working in the heart of Vancouver.

“There is no better way to start the day than seeing the ocean and city skyline while driving over the Granville Street or Burrard Street Bridges, just as the sun’s coming up.” – Desiree

 

 

Looking for even more information about how TransLink fared in 2014? Check out our latest Annual Report and Statutory Report.

Author: Adrienne Coling

AGM marks 125 years of transit!

AGM

It’s the 125th anniversary of transit in our region!

To mark this occasion, this year’s AGM will be more than just a year in review, it will give a shout-out to those that keep us moving today and into tomorrow.

The event goes down Friday, June 26th from 10am to 11:30am at the Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St.), right next to the New Westminster SkyTrain Station.

To stay true to AGM form, in addition to celebrating transit’s big 1-2-5, we’ll also be sharing our 2014 financial and operational milestones with our regional stakeholders, senior TransLink staff, media and those of the general public that wish to attend.

Keep your eyes peeled on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information in the weeks to come!

Author: Laura Tennant

Transportation and Transit plebiscite: Voting begins

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Voting takes place from March 16 to May 29

Today marks the beginning of the Transportation and Transit plebiscite. Voting packages will be mailed out to all registered voters. You have until May 29th to cast your vote.

Here’s the gist: One million new residents are arriving in Metro Vancouver over the next 30 years. We need to get our transportation system ready for growth — and lots of it!

So Metro Vancouver registered voters are being asked  to decide if they support the 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax.

The tax would be collected with the provincial sales tax.

The Mayors’ Council released this message to residents today.

You can see the plan and more information on the Mayors’ Council website.

Whatever you decide, make your voice heard and vote! To register or update your information, contact Elections BC at  or call 1-800-661-8683.

Important Dates

March 16 – 27

Voting packages mailed to registered voters.

March 16 – May 15

Voters may ask for voting package.

April 13

Plebiscite Service Offices open for local ballot drops and general plebiscite information. Be sure to check here for locations.

Midnight, Friday, May 15

The time to ask for a voting package ends.

8 p.m., Friday, May 29

Close of voting. All voting packages must be received by Elections BC by this date and time in order to have your vote count.

Author: Adrienne Coling

Transportation and Transit Plebiscite: March 16 – May 29, 2015

plebiscite vector

Transportation and Transit Plebiscite: March 16 – May 29, 2015

Plebiscite. Referendum. Transit tax. These words have been on everyone’s lips for the last few weeks, months even. Because Metro Vancouver registered voters are being asked to cast their ballots from March 16th until May 29th of this year to decide if they support the 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax. The tax would be collected with the provincial sales tax.

Why is this happening, you ask? Well, with one million new residents arriving in Metro Vancouver over the next 30 years, we need to get our transportation system ready for growth — and lots of it! The region’s mayors have developed a transportation and transit plan to meet this growth.

Take a look at what this would mean:

  • A 25% increase in bus service, including 11 new B-Line rapid bus routes across the region
  • Increased service on SkyTrain, Canada Line, SeaBus and West Coast Express
  • Maintaining and upgrading the region’s major roads
  • A new Pattullo Bridge
  • Light rail transit connecting Surrey Centre, Guildford, Newton and Langley
  • An extension of the Millennium Line, tunneled below Broadway in Vancouver, from VCC-Clark station to Arbutus Street
  • Investments to improve safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians

You can see more on the Mayors’ Council website.

You decide

All registered Metro Vancouver voters will vote by mail-in ballot between March 16 and May 29, 2015. To register, or update your information, contact Elections BC at  or call 1-800-661-8683.

Author: Adrienne Coling

TransLink’s AA credit rating: what it means for the transportation system

TransLink’s two rating agencies – Dominion Bond Rating Service and Moody’s – have both just reaffirmed TransLink’s credit rating as AA stable.

I know some of your eyes may have glazed over a tiny bit when you read that. But if you’re interested in TransLink and how we deliver our transportation services, it’s worth understanding why having such good credit ratings is so important.

To explain what the credit rating confirmation means, I chatted with Derek Bacchioni, TransLink’s Treasury Manager.

Derek Bacchioni, TransLink Treasury Manager

Derek Bacchioni, TransLink Treasury Manager

Who are you and what do you do at TransLink?

I’m TransLink’s Treasury Manager. I’m primarily responsible for helping manage TransLink’s cash flows to make sure TransLink has sufficient cash available to pay its payroll and bills on time. An integral part of managing these cash flows is looking after TransLink’s investments and also its short-term and long-term borrowings programs.

Why did TransLink’s rating agencies just reaffirm TransLink’s credit ratings?

Both DBRS and Moody’s undertake an annual review of TransLink’s finances. After they finish their review, they produce a report that states their opinion of TransLink’s financial health and stability. In general, there are a number of things that support TransLink’s positive credit ratings:

  • TransLink has diversified revenue sources (e.g. fuel tax, property tax and fares) that are fairly stable and predictable.
  • Transit ridership is growing.
  • We’re considered to have conservative and strong management.
  • Rating agencies consider our governance model as a strength, but recognize the challenges it creates.
  • Our legislation requires us to prepare a plan and budget each year (e.g. our Base Plan).
  • TransLink has conservative financial policies, especially regarding debt management and maintaining minimum reserves and contingencies.

Between their annual reviews our rating agencies also keep an eye on any major developments that could impact TransLink’s financial health and stability. If they feel that something has transpired that would change their opinion on our financial situation they could unilaterally decide to change our credit rating either up or down.

Why are credit ratings so important for TransLink?

TransLink borrows money so that we can invest these funds into the assets and infrastructure of the transportation system we operate. Credit ratings are one of the primary ways that both bankers and investors – current and potential – gauge our financial health and stability. Credit ratings help them decide whether or not they are willing to lend or continue to lend money to TransLink and, if so, at what rate of interest.

It would be much more difficult for TransLink to borrow funds if we didn’t have a credit rating. Or we would have to borrow at a much higher rate of interest, because our investors would have to do a lot more work to continually monitor TransLink’s financial health and stability. Thus, our bankers and investors rely a lot on the independent assessments made by our credit rating agencies.

How much has TransLink raised from investors, and what is it using the money for?

To date TransLink has raised $750 million from longer-term investors. These funds have been primarily invested in buses, SkyTrain vehicles, road and bridge improvements, and many more physical assets and system upgrades which help us provide a safe and reliable transportation system throughout Metro Vancouver.

Thanks, Derek!

As always, please post your comments and questions here, and Derek and I will get you the answers!

Author: Tina Robinson