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Translink Buzzer Blog

The Commissioner’s review and planning for the future

How public transit is funded is an important topic and one we don’t usually talk much about on the Buzzer. In January, TransLink’s Regional Transportation Commissioner asked for public feedback on a fare increase asked for by Translink to keep current service levels. Today, the Commissioner has released his review of TransLink’s application. TransLink has released a response to the Commissioner’s review.

Post your ideas and questions for TransLink staff!

The review has not given approval for the fare increase beyond what we are permitted each year and has provided information on how TransLink might find financial savings through suggested cost efficiencies before the Commissioner would consider any additional fare increases. TransLink sees this review as both a tool to possibly improve the efficiency measures already in place as well as a chance to reexamine our current and future service commitments.

How TransLink has invested in transport in the region

Due to a yearly increase in the demand for public transit, TransLink invests in four key areas: more rapid transit, more buses and better bus service in the suburbs, more bridges, and better roads for drivers and cyclists. The 2012 “Moving Forward” 2012 Supplemental Plan outlines the latest plan for these four areas in detail.

When looking at bus service we provide Metro Vancouver specifically, TransLink’s aim has been to move service to where it’s needed most to maximize the value of existing service. Four times a year, we optimize our service in order to run them as efficiently and as wisely as possible. We are also constantly looking for ways to cut costs and found some last year.

At the same time, we believe everyone in our region should have equal access to quality transit services so people can have a choice whether or not to drive their car. However, keeping our service efficient and providing equal access can be a challenge – particularly financially.

Why a fare increase was asked for

The requested fare increase was part of the Stabilization Plan approved in 2009 to keep current service. Fortunately, TransLink has always run under budget, and despite the setback of not receiving the requested fare increase, we will be able to continue the current level of service even if we are not able to add any new services – for the time being.

What TransLink is planning for

Without enhanced funding like the proposed fare increases and funding outlined in the Moving Forward supplemental plan, expansion of the transit network (excluding the Evergreen Line) will have to be put on hold.

Late last year, TransLink submitted the fare increase application so that we would have a decision from the commissioner prior to developing the 2013 supplemental plan (which is being worked on as I type this). The commissioner has suggested that we reapply for the same fare increase after we have had an opportunity to further examine our costs and incorporate those saving in our future plans. It is our intention to do this as the additional revenues are required to deliver existing services.

Moving into the future, we project that demand for transit and the cost to provide transit will increase. TransLink will continue to look for cost savings and welcomes suggestions like the commissioner’s on how to do this. However, we will have to dip into our reserves each year to continue to provide today’s level of service if alternative funding isn’t found. Our reserves are collected to protect TransLink from swings in fuel prices and other financial risks to ensure we can deliver our services and keep the system in good and working condition.

Your questions and input on the future of public transit in Metro Vancouver

With funding being constrained in the foreseeable future, an increase demand for transit and need for the system to be expanded to meet that demand, hard and important decisions will have to be made about how best to provide our current level of service. While cost efficiencies are being looked into, planning for the future of transit still needs to happen.

TransLink would like to ask Buzzer blog readers for your input on how to meet the increasing demand for transit in Metro Vancouver with the current funding challenges TransLink is facing.

TransLink executives and managers will be given your thoughts and questions and will be answering them.

I’ll post their answers in the comment section for this blog, in future blog posts and possibly through YouTube.

We’re looking for a frank and respectful conversation that really looks at viable options that can help TransLink continue to grow Metro Vancouver’s transit network in a sustainable way, so please do post your post your suggestions and questions. We look forward to them!


  • By drew86, April 11, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    I believe Translink should adopt some of the business models of other successful public transit systems around the world. One great example is Hong Kong’s MTR. Although I understand it is a privatized organization, and for some reason Canadians hate the idea of privatization, I believe there are some lessons to be learned.

    MTR owns properties in densely populated areas (i.e. transit stations), it develops them into private/social housing real estates and shopping/retail complexes. This way, it can collect investment and rental revenue to compliment its budget instead of taxing the public to death.

    The other initiative MTR has done over the years is that they had included banks, convenience stores, bookstores, fast-food restaurants, and many other businesses inside the station to generate capital and rental income. Why can’t Translink do the same to their skytrain stations and transit hubs?

    With Vancouver’s increasing population and Translink’s skyrocketing operating expenses, I am certain that the current mode of business management is unsustainable without some new ideas. I don’t believe increasing the carbon tax will motivate people to switch to transit because if that was to be the case, then we will have the ironic problem of falling carbon tax revenue. I also don’t believe in hiking property taxes, fuel tax, and introducing vehicle levies. It’s just a express pass for Translink to tax the public whenever they need to. We must find ways to generate income from private sectors. How about more advertisements on buses, skytrains, and train stations.

  • By David, April 11, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    There are plenty of advertisements on and in Translink related properties and vehicles. Have you taken transit recently, or looked at? I’m not saying that to sound sarcastic either. I don’t see how Translink can realistically increase the penetration of advertisements to generate significant amounts of additional income. Maybe they can include ads on the back of seats and ceilings within vehicles and along the Skytrain tracks too, but I can’t see that generating enough income to matter too much.

    That being said you do have an interesting point regarding the utilization of Translink’s properties, especially in regards to development around Skytrain, West Coast Express and B-Line stations. Far too many of them are in low density residential or industrial zones. Not to mention the under utilization of property close to Transit exchanges. While it may not be realistic to expect Translink to purchase property in these areas where it doesn’t already own said property, there should be an additional property levy on those properties that goes directly to Translink, considering how those properties (whether they’re residential, commercial or industrial) benefit from their direct proximity to transit.

  • By JKKT - Kyle, April 11, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    This is a serious topic regarding the future of Translink. I won’t be surprised if this post tops 100 comments.

    Anyways, @drew86, I have been to hong Kong, ridden their subway, and what you mention is definately true. It is hard to compare Hong Kong to Vancouver, because
    1)It is >3X as dense,
    2) Car ownership is low because HK is small and the cars are on the left
    3) They filled in their harbour with land to pay for the airport express.

    Similarily to HK, the City of Vancouver boosted the land and relestate prices around Canada line stations to help pay for the train. Unlike HK, Vancouver’s metro stations are tiny, and already support unsuccessful businesses that have closed down (Olympic Vilage & Yaletown Jugo Juices).

    A vehicle levy is the most appropriate.

    Think Tranlink has the highest fares in Canada? think again:
    More Proof: Revelstoke has a system of 2 bus routes on an hourly loop, and surprise surprise! You pay $1.50 for a trip or $45 a month for a service of 2 hourly routes.

    As I am sure this is a topic that is sure to arise in this post, I will say it now: Jarrett Walker, Martin Creily have all explained that Translink is not corrupt, that translink is in fact a very good and successful transit opperator.

    Need Proof? Copy&Paste:

    1) In announcing the ruling, Commissioner Martin Crilly recognized that TransLink has improved service
    dramatically in the past decade, and is committed to delivering even better and wider service coverage
    for the future. To support this, he noted, TransLink has already secured higher and growing funding
    from tax‐payers.

    2) 4.1 Public Overall Opposed
    The public submitted nearly 600 letters, almost all opposed to the increase, with two petitions
    with some 300 names, also against. Common themes were: the magnitude of the
    proposed fare increases; transit users’ ability to pay; impact on ridership and on the environment;
    and a fare zone structure some regard as flawed. There were also perceptions of
    inefficiencies and mismanagement at TransLink, poor service quality and levels; and escalating
    and condoned evasion of fares. The commission acknowledged and thanked all
    correspondents individually.

    3) The public’s comments are a sharp reminder that an above-inflation fare increase will be
    met with dismay and cause hardship, especially among those of limited means and dependent
    on transit. It is also worth noting here that higher fares inevitably deter riders:
    TransLink estimates that the 12.5% fare increase will mean 2% fewer-than-otherwise riders
    on its system.

    4) STOP BLAMING TRANSLINK! (except when they spend money on highways) Drivers are paying their 2 cents, It’s time for transit users to too.

    5) The Public Perception is that Translink is purely a Public Tranlink Buracracy. TRANSLINK OPERATES ROADS TOO!!! Surprise? The increased 2 cents and transit fares pay for roads too!

    6) It seems to me that whenever translink asks for money, there is a big public outcry, people missing the fact that roads account for the huge majority (>90%) of all transportation spending in the region. From spending of local roads, to 3 million for a left turn lane, all road spending goes unnoticed.

    7) The libs aren’t helping, puting only ‘a few billion dollars’ in transportation with a small percent for transit. Lekstrom DENIES puting Carbon tax to transit.

    8) To zwei, No, it was NOT translink’s decision to build RRT for the EverGreen, NOT translink’s decision to build RRT for the Canada line, NOT translink’s decision to build RRT for the Millenium or expo lines, NOT translink’s decision to build faregates. It’s all the libs controling translink.

    9) The governance model is NOT messed up. For proof, look in the Board governance model diagram on the website, and notice that The commisioner and Mayors occupy 2/3 of the space.

    Finally, read this:

    4.2 Increase Not Unreasonable in Some Respects
    The proposed fare increase is not unreasonable in the context of normal user pay and cost
    recovery ratios, and when compared to transit prices elsewhere in Canada:
    • TransLink’s user-pay percentage1 has fallen in the last 3 years (to 34.4% in 2012)
    because TransLink’s taxation revenues have been growing quickly. The proposed
    fare increase would lift it (to 36.3% in 2013) just part way back to the peak value
    (of 37.9%) seen in 2008.
    • TransLink’s cost recovery ratio2 declined from 56.0% in 2006 to 52.5% in 2010.
    The proposed 2013 fare increase would add about 3 percentage points to the 2010
    figure, leaving it still below the 2006 level.
    • TransLink’s proposed one-zone cash fare ($2.75 for an adult, up from $2.50 today)
    is not out of line with other cities’ fare levels seen in Calgary, Toronto,
    Montreal or Victoria—though in some cities riders can travel further for that fare
    (i.e. those large cities having no zone system). Similar findings apply to the proposed
    price of monthly passes.
    Also, the increase is also not unreasonable as to timing. The last increase in cash fares
    was in January 2008, and the last in FareSaver tickets and monthly FareCard passes in
    April 2010. Large hikes can create price shocks and are undesirable; other things being
    equal, smaller, more frequent fare increases are preferable from a market perspective.

  • By Robert, April 11, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    A small suggestion for improved bus efficiency: start the eastbound 395/502 (and 345?) buses from King George rather than Surrey Central Station. In the morning rush over 90% of passengers get off at King George to board Skytrain. In the afternoon rush most passengers board at Surrey Central even though the route to King George is slow and winding, simply because waiting at King George involves a significant risk of being passed up. By running the same number of buses on a shorter route more service can be provided where most of the demand exists. It would also reduce space pressure at Surrey Central. This would tide things over until decisions on Surrey rapid transit are made years in the future.

  • By Xerxes, April 11, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    How has Translink Real Estate Division been doing recently anyways? Will we be seeing more of them now that the Evergreen Line is about to start construction? Also, after reading those recommendations, has anybody considered replacing the CNG buses with Hybrid instead? The CNG buses seem quite costly compared to the regular diesels and the hybrids.

    Also, @JKKT – Kyle… are you suggesting that people drive less if they have to drive on the left? :P

  • By Jimbo, April 11, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    Translink should look at a bus stop consolidation program to improve efficiency like other cities (Seattle, San Francisco, etc) have. Over the years, for various reasons, people call for a bus stop where there was not one.

    Now it is common for the bus stop spacing to be below and often far below Translink’s spacing standard. Sometimes there are two stops in the same block! This leads to slow, inefficient and costly service.

    Of course, every stop “has its constituency” that will be opposed to making the system more efficient but this hasn’t stopped other cities from making improvements.

    Let’s do more with what we’ve got instead of constantly trying to raise more funding!

  • By Jonathan, April 11, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

    We need a mass transit system along the broadway corridor.

  • By Jack, April 11, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    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. Technology options also exhibit more variety. SkyTrain’s ALRT technology for instance isn’t and shouldn’t be the only rapid transit mode—-utilize steetcars, light rail, more express lines for bus and commuter rail. We can’t just leave funding to one centralized unit. Translink has too much on its plate, too many simultaneous projects, and thus always a funding crisis as well as delays on project construction. The Evergreen Line is a beautiful example: we’ve been waiting for it since SkyTrain was proposed to go to Surrey in the late 80s! Only now in 2012 are we finally getting around to it.

  • By ???, April 11, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

    @Jimbo: Do you have a route or location where you would like to see consolidation? I found there is already consolidation in my route and as a senior the finalized location is a long walk for me.

  • By Sheba, April 11, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

    @drew86 Check out New West Station – the wasted space that used to be the ticket level is being turned into a mini shopping mall (well mini to me but I’m used to Metrotown). Personally I’d love to see something similar happen to more of the stations.

    @Jimbo Amen! It’s silly for the 106/129 to drive from Edmonds Station and then have a stop (in each direction) soon after the bus turns onto Edmonds Street. Most of the time the bus drives right past them as no one is waiting or wanting to leave the bus at those stops.

    Speaking of inefficient, has anyone looked at the 129 route map? It goes from Edmonds Station up to Holdom Station, then up to Hastings for a few blocks before dropping back down to Gilmore Station and then it drives down to Patterson Station before ending at Metrotown. If you want efficient start making a grid and break that up into three more direct routes.

    Then there’s the 100 and 144 *rolls eyes*
    Meanwhile there isn’t a single bus that drives from Royal Oak Station up Royal Oak and then over to either Brentwood or Holdom Stations, which would make the system a little more grid-like.

    Don’t even get me started on Surrey and the lack of east/west routes. Everything over there is geared to getting to/from Vancouver and if you want to go anywhere else you’re screwed.

    Ok, I’ve taken a breath now. Something else that Translink could really really stand to do is educate drivers. They think that all the money they’re paying is going towards buses, when as you pointed out JKKT, a lot of money is spent on roads. Perhaps a very in-your-face graphic showing where the money comes from and where it is spent – something with arrows so people don’t have to think very much to understand it.

  • By quirks, April 11, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    Still nothing to improve the richmond to SFU commute?

  • By JKKT - Kyle, April 11, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    @ Robert, Sheba, quirks, Johnathon

    There are many SPECIFIC things that translink could do to improve the efficiency of the transit system. Some things that makes sense to planners may not make sense to people who use the routes (Eg. Burnaby’s messed up road system which causes the buses to turn every 2nd street).

    But, those SPECIFIC things won’t solve the issue of Finding money for transit. EVEN IF ridership and optimization is increased, the money for transit will not increase: More people taking transit = less money from gas taxes.

    Thanks sheba for reinforcing my point. I think a graph on revenue and expenditures is greatly needed.

    @ Xerxes
    The reason the left hand driving causes HK to have a low car ownership is because those cars are ‘trapped’ in HK. The steering wheel is on the right. It’s not that people don’t have money for cars, its that they don’t need them when the MTR and Buses go everywhere in that small ‘country’.

  • By Joe, April 11, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

    Sheba, while I agree that the 129 needs to be split into 2 routes (one that’s Metrotown to Hastings, and one that’s Hastings to Gilmore), I don’t see anything particularily wrong with the 144. It’s the quickest route from Metrotown to SFU. With regards to the 110, it’s one of those local routes that services a few different areas, but could probably be cut in half at Sperling station, with the branch that has lower ridership being replaced with Community shuttles or maybe 30 foot buses (which TransLink should investigate getting).

  • By snowystar, April 11, 2012 @ 11:08 pm

    As someone who always pay attention to operating statistics, I must say there are quite a few errors in that report…

    First of all, TransLink measures the service hours for rail service as car-hour or car-km, while most, if not all other agency measure by train-hour or train-km. So the report is really comparing numbers in different unit, as a TransLink train can consist of 2, 4, 6, or even up to 10 cars for WCE. Using the proper number should bring the revenue per passenger to around 40, which is at the third place behind Toronto and Calgary (using Calgary Transit’s own number from their website gives 38.6 for their system instead of 43 on the report, but I’m not sure why there’s such a difference…)

    Toronto usually report service km only for the revenue service within the city proper and exclude the kms for any out-of-service trip. Toronto does have many contracted service running into York region and is not included in these numbers. However, the report use the total TTC ridership to calculate the values, which does include the riders from these service. This makes Toronto’s value look higher than what it should be. It should be higher than all other system, but not by that much.

    TransLink uses a revised ridership estimate methodology for their 2011 report, and recalibrate the 2010 numbers, which make ridership much higher. So what’s the difference between these calculation methods? The report used the old numbers with lower ridership. So instead of ineffective operation, its the ridership estimation that’s ineffective?

    Regarding to operation cost, I’ve noticed an annual ~100M payment to Canada Line operator, which includes both CL operation and the repayment of the ~750M private sector contribution in capital. Wouldn’t the repayment better fit for capital cost instead of operation cost? Assuming 40% of that goes to repaying capital, the actual system cost recovery would be two percentage points higher. But I guess how these payment is distributed between capital and operation is a mystery…

  • By snowystar, April 12, 2012 @ 12:00 am

    Regarding to #110, #129 and #144… well, its hard to run grid service if the streets aren’t grid to begin with. Except for maybe #144, the others are just local feeder services. For instance, very few people take the #129 all the way from Patterson/Metrotown to Hastings, or from Gilmore to Holdom, or from Hastings to Edmonds. So I don’t see problem for the route being loopy.

    The #110 and #129 are actually a product of merging short local routes and taking over loopy portions of trunk routes (ie. #130 around Bonds). Looking at a 1990 map for the system, it is much more “grid-like” with Boundary served by #28, Gilmore by #132, Willingdon by #120/#130, Delta by #139, Holdom by #136, Douglas by #131, Canada Way by #120, Lougheed by #151/#152, Sperling/Kensington by #144, Bainbridge/Duthie by #133/#135, and area north of Hastings by #137/#140. At the north end of the grid, the buses have nowhere to go so they all go to Kootenay Loop, while many go to Brentwood in the south. This result in as much as 20 different routes serving Kootenay Loop and 17 of them run along Hastings in North Burnaby before turning onto the street they serve. I wouldn’t call this anywhere close to cost effective. I actually like what #129 is doing right now – loading and unloading local passengers at the same time, rather than having two separate buses strolling along Hastings picking up passengers from empty.

    I think a similar case can apply to the #320 (Fleetwood short-turn) and #375 along 152nd Street in Surrey. Right now, the #375 unloads passengers along the route and empties at Guildford, while at the same time the #320 picking up passengers from empty buses. Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to connect both trips so the bus can load and unload at the same time, which effectively provide the same service with one bus instead of two?

    A slightly different, but similar case can also apply to White Rock after the introduction of B-Line service – there is really no need for local service south of Hwy 10 as the #351 and #354 can provide frequent local service within White Rock. This ensure a better use of capacity for the routes while providing enough capacity at South Surrey P&R, where transfer to the B-Line occurs. The mere two lightly-used stops in the ALR on King George can just serve by the B-Line.

    And then the Hastings B-Line, where the local service can just be provided by the #160 after the completion of Evergreen Line in 2016. Even better, those #160 can be linked with the #130 to Hastings trips and run to Metrotown to reduce duplications toward Kootenay Loop or towards Brentwood, if the route is to terminate there as per the original LRT plan…

  • By Chris, April 12, 2012 @ 7:16 am

    Personally, I’m willing to pay more to have better public transit – higher fares and more taxes.
    I’m really disappointed that the fare increase and road tolling have both been nixed. We need better transit now.

  • By Lynn, April 12, 2012 @ 8:03 am


    I whole heartedly agree. We are building transportation infrastructure for a growing, largely foreign, investment population—with money. They should be thus included on footing the bill and shaping the mass transit network. As it stands, apartment buildings and development projects are mushrooming around the SkyTrain network. If anyone remembers Metrotown before Expo, it was a scuzzy slum. So was the Brentwood and Gilmore area along the Lougheed Highway. Both now are turning into their own sub cities. Translink can’t take everything on by itself nor can it keep bagging for tax and government money. Look to sources that are shaping the city…

  • By Marvin B, April 12, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    One thing I’d like to see is better night service. It’s a little difficult to get around once it gets past midnight. There’s one group of businesses that want more night service as well and that’s nightclub and bar owners. It makes sense that to improve the night service, these business owners pay a levy specifically for night services. More buses at night mean more business for them. If it didn’t, then they wouldn’t be clamorng for more buses. Well put your wallet where your mouth is and pay up some for the requested service. This of course is only one part of the overall transit system, but I think it could work for the late night service.

  • By Sheba, April 12, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

    Oh no we can’t change any routes from where they are now to a more grid-like layout – except we can! A lot of Burnaby could be switched to a more north/south, east/west setup. That doesn’t mean that a bus has to stay on the exact same street for the entire route.

    Admittedly that would have to be turned about 45 degrees in the area below Burnaby Lake – which could then be joined up with the New West service that is already oriented in that direction. I’ll agree that Burnaby Mountain is very ungrid-like. Plus we don’t have any aquabuses for traveling across Burnaby Lake.

    A more grid-like system would make it more efficient, which would save money. Making more money is a whole other issue.

  • By RIEG, April 12, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

    I agree with the Regional Transportation Commissioner Martin Crilly’s decision to reject Translink’s proposed fare increases. As many have voiced their opposition to the increases, my opinion is based on the principle that high usage fares will deter transit riders. “TransLink estimates that the 12.5% fare increase will mean 2% fewer-than-otherwise riders on its system”. Losing ridership is against the objectives of Translink, and is detrimental to the years of effort by Translink to encourage public transit use.

    However, I believe there are more important avenues of funding strategies than the Commissioner’s suggested cost-cutting measures. Transit fares are essentially regressive taxes on transit users. The governments should seek more progressive methods of funding for transit. As we still live in a predominantly car-dependent society, I believe that vehicle licensing fees, parking fees, and toll fees should be drastically increased. 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 this change is to collect revenue from automobile usage, while increasing funding for public transportation.

  • By Rob, April 12, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

    Fix the 49 route translink.

    This route is disgusting, overcrowed from peak to peak, inhumanly crushed on board just to get to work daily.

    You’re losing revenue by providing far less capacity than the route demands. It’s not a matter of road room as you run 5 min frequency during peak times.

    Either run 5-7 min frequencies or turn this route into an articulated one like the 44 or the 135. I don’t care if you have to duct tape some buses together. You’re not wasting your money on this route.

  • By Daniel, April 13, 2012 @ 12:18 am

    I think translink has done a great job expanding transit in the area for the last few years and we need to keep the momentum going. However increasing fares are a double edge sword and I agree to the decision to not allowing fare increases to exceed the already allowable amount. That should be last option. Here are some of my ideas that I believe should be tried out first.

    1. Increase UPass prices. Students are currently getting a ridiculous deal. A minor increase would still keep the deal reasonably awesome while bringing in some extra cash.

    2. Project like the UBC line / gondula to SFU should have a portion of capital cost covered by the primary benefactor. In this case, UBC/SFU. This only makes sense. Maybe translink can give free passes to faculty in exchange. This is kind of the same idea as the airport (fee) paying of a portion of the capital cost to build the airport sky-train stations.

    3. Translink might already be considered this, but current system of issuing ticket to illigal riders seems broken to me. I will admit I don’t know much of the facts here, but my perception is a lot of those ticket are never collected; many of them are unpaid and lost/blocked in the legal system and are costing more money they they are worth. Also translink has no way of enforcing payment. Even when payment is made I believe very little or none of it goes to translink or into building better transit. On the bright side here is I think there are lots of options for improvement. I have lots of ideas here myself and I bet other people do as well, but maybe a seperate post can be made on this with some fact cleared up.

    4. Consider moving money from car infrastructural to transit. The budgets ratios for car infrastructure vs. transit need to reflect today’s goals, not the 1960’s when the car infustructure was the #1 priority. We have slowely been going in this direction with the gas taxes but it can be better.

    5. Create a donations branch where people can donate, with a tax receipt of course, to a specific translink project. For example upgrading bus shelters. Surely a community could come together and donate if the benefits desired and are directly visible. Maybe a bit of a strech but worth a try, you never know.

    That’s all I got right now. Great post!

  • By Mike, April 13, 2012 @ 6:49 am

    Translink should have roads (Major Road Network) removed from its jurisdictions. Translink is a transit agency, and as such, its focus should be primarily on transit. Most roads are under provincial responsibility, as they all should be.

  • By Reva, April 13, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

    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.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that there is a conflict of interest — Translink’s mandate is to increase transit ridership, but a large portion of its income relies on lots of people continuing to drive their cars, i.e. gas taxes, road & bridge tolls, etc. I’m all for collecting revenue via these methods, but either Translink wants to increase transit ridership or it doesn’t.

  • By mezzanine, April 14, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

    @Mike and Reva,

    IMO it is vital that TL manage roads as with transit, if we are ever to use road-pricing, tolls or bus-lanes.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, April 16, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

    Hi everyone: There’s some interesting ideas being debated here. While I try to find some people within TransLink to chime in on them, I’d like to invite you all to ask questions directly of TransLink executive tomorrow morning. We’re hosting a live online conference addressing the commissioners report and the Mayor’s decision on property taxes. Here’s the info:

    Join the video conference online or by phone.

    Online at: (registration required)
    Phone in: 1-888-396-8063

    I hope you can make it!

  • By David, April 17, 2012 @ 10:42 am


    Additional private investment in transit would have to have a net benefit for the public. I can see opportunities for transit oriented amenities, but funding the actual construction and operation of transit can’t do anything but put public money into private hands. After all, we all know that public transit is a subsidized commodity and the whole point of operating a business is to turn a profit.

    (TransLink probably has legal restrictions and cannot correct my numbers, but here goes).

    Official numbers place the private investment in building Canada Line at approximately $750 million. ProTrans is owned by supposedly intelligent business people. So, being intelligent, they will expect the payments from TransLink to provide the following: enough money to cover operating costs, maintenance, etc. plus enough money to pay back the initial $750 million plus a reasonable rate of return on that investment.

    TransLink would have to pay operating/maintenance costs if there was no private operator so that’s irrelevant. What matters is the size of the payments intended to pay back the investors who provided that original $750. Being intelligent they will expect that to be no less than $3 billion over the life of the 35 year agreement.

    Government can usually borrow money a much lower rates than that so we can conclude the the ProTrans PPP is a net transfer of public money to private hands.

    As stated up near the top of the comments we can not and should not blame TransLink for that. It was an incredibly clever way for the BC Liberals to shift most of the cost of the transit line to TransLink and simultaneously transfer at least $3 billion taxpayer cash to private enterprise.

    No matter what gets built in the future we must all stand opposed to that form of funding.

  • By Dave, April 17, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    There’s no way they will solve funding problems as long as these fatcats are never held accountable for their actions. It’s funny how you can award yourselves bonuses while cutting back services due ot “lack of funding”. Now they claim they don’t have enough money to refit every skytrain station with faregates.

    Restructure Translink, trim all the unecesscary exectives, hold them accountable. and make Trsnslink in charge of public transit only, not both roads and transit.

  • By Scott, April 18, 2012 @ 10:21 am

    Scheduling needs to be improved all over the region. I can’t tell you how many times I just miss a connecting bus in Surrey because of poor connection times, yet when I explain the problem to translink they rarely change things. People aren’t going to ride transit in greater numbers if it isn’t efficient. People will pay more if the system is more efficient.

    Translink needs to go over routes and how many people use the buses that serve them and adjust service accordingly. One of the posts above said they should look at 30′ buses which I agree with. Those shuttles are awful and are expensive.

    Routes like 316,314,329,391 etc could be served by them. I hardly ever see those routes with many passengers on them. There’s countless other routes where frequency is too high and some where there isn’t enough. The 8 has too much capacity and frequency as an example. Outside of the main rush hour, the 319 doesn’t need to run every 7/8 minutes. Every ten was okay. Could re-allocate service hours to routes like the 502 that passup people during the day with every 15 minute service and after 6pm when the service is every 15 minutes. Don’t know how many times one has to send in a complaint before they increase the service. 320’s on the weekend and weeknight’s same thing. Drivers could give translink a ton of useful information as well if they asked them for it.

  • By Dominican, April 29, 2012 @ 9:21 am

    Although I do not believe that the siglne SkyTrain line is the best option (it certainly isn’t the most useful for anyone who isnt living along that one road), I do think that implementing a lightrail or dedicated bus route would be cumbersome. Wouldn’t entire roads have to be uprooted and rebuilt to accommodate them?

  • By Eugene Wong, April 29, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

    Regarding Scott’s suggestion of the #314, #329, #316, and #391, I agree with using community buses for the #314, and #329, during most of the day, but the #329 does fill up at the start of the evening rush, because of school students. I can’t comment on the #316 or #391, but I seem to recall them being quite full during the day.

    I suggest that Translink reroute the #326 to not travel on 140 St. I have already suggested this to them. Have them go on King George and turn on 88 Ave, and vice versa when returning. This would give extra capacity to King George, and would allow other passengers better access to the school and businesses on King George. Please do this! I’d love to read everybody’s feedback on this.

    Regarding what Daniel said,
    I agree.

    1. Increase UPass prices. We all have bills to pay. They are no different.

    2. Make UBC/SFU pay a bit more for their projects.

    3. Maybe treat the people without identification as illegal immigrants, and retain them. I think that that might be heavy handed, though, :^D especially in light of me forgetting my pass a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. :^O There needs to be a way of making people pay up a lot, when they are caught, and then making it easier for them to be good riders afterwards. There must be a way to do this. The public also needs to help hold these people accountable.

    5. Yes, make it possible for people to donate to public transit and various government organizations. Translink is pretty much non-profit, so why not?

  • By Eugene Wong, April 29, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

    Encourage high schools to make their own bus shelters, so that they can take ownership of their part of the transit system. Woodwork classes and metalwork classes should be able to produce something viable. There are flower competitions, robot competitions, technolympics, and adopt-a-street, so why can’t there be a bus stop program? Which organization made the cheapest bus shelter? The most elaborate? The most artful? The most environmentally friendly?

    I think that Translink should be in charge of roads, but not be mandated to build them. Translink should be mandated to build better public transit. After Translink can maintain a surplus, and *after saving for the future*, *then* it can *consider* building roads. I feel as if we transit riders are forced to argue among ourselves, while drivers get their roads built automatically. Disgraceful!

    Force the bus drivers to not give the car drivers the right of way. So often, I see a bus driver gesture to the cars to cut in. That is disgraceful! Every moment should be a lesson in letting buses go first.

    Is it possible to build carpooling infrastructure? Does anybody know?

    The government probably isn’t listening, but we should not let this die down.

  • By Eugene Wong, April 29, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

    Regarding Scott’s suggestion of the #314, #329, #316, and #391, I agree with using community buses for the #314, and #329, during most of the day, but the #329 does fill up at the start of the evening rush, because of school students. I can’t comment on the #316 or #391, but I seem to recall them being quite full during the day.

    I suggest that Translink reroute the #326 to not travel on 140 St. I have already suggested this to them. Have them go on King George and turn on 88 Ave, and vice versa when returning. This would give extra capacity to King George, and would allow other passengers better access to the school and businesses on King George. Please do this! I’d love to read everybody’s feedback on this.

    Regarding what Daniel said, I agree.

    1. Increase UPass prices. We all have bills to pay. They are no different.

    2. Make UBC/SFU pay a bit more for their projects.

    3. Maybe treat the people without identification as illegal immigrants, and retain them. I think that that might be heavy handed, though, :^D especially in light of me forgetting my pass a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. :^O There needs to be a way of making people pay up a lot, when they are caught, and then making it easier for them to be good riders afterwards. There must be a way to do this. The public also needs to help hold these people accountable.

    5. Yes, make it possible for people to donate to public transit and various government organizations. Translink is pretty much non-profit, so why not?

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Addressing the Commissioner’s Review and the Mayors’ Council decision — April 18, 2012 @ 11:19 am

  2. The Buzzer blog » Ask TransLink CEO, Ian Jarvis, your questions, and share your ideas — May 7, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  3. The Buzzer blog » Ian Jarvis answers and replies to your questions and ideas — May 15, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  4. The Buzzer blog » A challenging road ahead: TransLink’s 2012 financial picture — May 24, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  5. The Buzzer blog » Vancouver Sun article: on TransLink providing quality transit today and looking to the future — September 11, 2012 @ 10:54 am

  6. The Buzzer blog » Many fares to increase on January 1, 2013 — November 13, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

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