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The provincial audit of TransLink

This summer, the TransLink Board invited a provincial audit to help us find more efficiencies in how we run our transit system and our operations. The result of the audit is the Review of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink), released this morning. Here’s a link to the press release.

We’ve already started on some of the recommendations in the audit, and we’re still working on other recommendations since they’re complex and the changes will not be easy to implement.

The audit is a provincial announcement, so we won’t necessarily have answers to your questions. However, feel free to ask, and we’ll see what we can find out for you!

Edit, 2:50PM: Here’s an article from the Surrey Leader about the audit. Also, one from the CBC and one from CTV News.

Edit, Oct 17: There are a lot more articles and blog posts! Thought we’d list them all here in case you’d like to read them.


  • By Chris, October 16, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    Of the $41 million in newfound savings, $30 million is from “adopting a less-conservative approach to budgeting”. Isn’t that just an accounting trick?

  • By Allan K, October 16, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    Some of these recommendations can be called a little dangerous. For example, eliminating the “less conservative” approach to budgeting means that it’s quite possible that in future years, if we run into deficits, that the system will have to endure immediate sweeping cuts such as severe service reductions to compensate rather than the current adjustments and fluctuations. Such an approach will only decrease the reliability of the service over the long run.

  • By Allan K, October 16, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    Also, another thing that was mentioned: re-evaluating the successful trolley service and expanding usage of the problematic CNG buses… what? Seriously, the thought put into the long-run management of the system is really not being considered. Fuel costs are inevitably only going up even more due to inflation and scarcity vs electricity, which makes it more prudent to keep them and perhaps even fill in a few missing links. As for the CNGs, I’m aware there’s internal department policy to phase them out given how the older fleet (all phased out now) were lemons…

  • By Allan K, October 16, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    At this point, the only worthwhile deductions that I see worth investigating are the under-performing routes as well as the costs on administration, maintenance and personnel.
    Finally, it is worth noting the background of this audit… it comes from the BC Ministry of Finance, which it itself is having problems with managing its own money; it comes at an austere time where everyone is getting squeezed and complaining about increasing costs (which is what started this review), and it’s objective is to bring in short-term relief, possibly without care for any long term objectives. In the end, all this considered, I suggest that TransLink take its own time to consider these proposals carefully and weigh the benefits and disadvantages over the long run before making a move. As they say, it’s unwise to cut one’s nose to spite the face.

  • By Sheba, October 16, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

    It’s one thing to have pencil pushers say what should be changed and another to have people who have experience with the system say what should be changed.

    I don’t see a huge issue with running community shuttle buses on routes that are running at about 30% capacity. Why run a large mostly empty bus when you can run a small mostly full bus instead (and it’ll be cheaper to run the small bus). When the numbers improve then the size of the bus can be upgraded.

    Reducing the frequency of mid-day skytrain is silly. That’s when I do most of my riding and the trains are usually at least 3/4 full. Reducing the number of trains is going to make it feel like rush hour all day long.

    The whole “less conservative approach to budgeting” has already been brought up…

  • By Gordon, October 17, 2012 @ 8:37 am

    Translink has been doing service optimizations for the last couple of years. the audit did not talk to the drivers union whose input may he been useful. Victoria should allow Translink access to carbon tax revenue ubtil the a sustainable model is found.

  • By Scott, October 17, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    This audit was pointless. TL and CMBC management already know or should know bus routes that run with mostly empty capacity. If customer feedback forms were actually looked at by planning and scheduling was improved, capacity would improve. I’ve sent in several minor requests for improved scheduling and never have gotten a response lately despite asking for one.

    If drivers were consulted, the same problems would have been found out at a very minimal cost. Same with scheduling. When a trip on a route is late 95% of the time, the scheduling on the run is poor. Traffic is getting worse and worse in Metro Vancovuer and scheduling needs to take this into account. How many times in a month in Surrey do we see issues as a result of the 312/319/640 being interlined and traffic issues? Same for 341/364/345/595 etc?

    Reduced skytrain frequencies would result in people missing bus transfers and waiting even longer. Especially in areas with already poor service such as Surrey.

  • By John, October 17, 2012 @ 11:18 am

    Talking to unions will only result in the same recommendations that they’ve made in years past. They’ll say that transit police is necessary, and all curent staffing is fine as it is if not, requires more. That was one of the issues why the Compass program took so long to get started because unions were exaggerating the cost of installation and downplaying the cost of fare evasion.

  • By Sheba, October 18, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    If they wanted a more complete audit, instead of just asking outsiders to look at the paperwork and crunch the numbers, they should have asked other groups for input as well. Transit staff and the riders themselves would have been able to come up with plenty too. Balance those two groups against the pencil pushers and you get a much more accurate picture of what’s going on.

  • By Sheba, October 23, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

    “In reality, every transit agency runs service that has a purpose other than ridership. These services, which I call “coverage” services…”

    “The TransLink audit appears to be simply ignorant about the universal tension between ridership goals and coverage goals. They recommend cutting coverage services because they have (predictably) low ridership. This is exactly as logical as throwing away your microwave because it doesn’t produce ice.”

  • By John V, October 30, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    Can the moderator send me an email explaining why my comments to this post have still not shown up.

    John V

  • By Eugene Wong, October 30, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

    @ John V

    My comment to another post has not shown up. They haven’t responded to 2 emails. I think that they are bogged down, and perhaps the system isn’t working properly. Also, I suspect that lengthy posts get caught in the filters.

Other Links to this Post

  1. Bus performance preliminaries « Voony's Blog — October 17, 2012 @ 12:46 am

  2. The Official 2013 "Great Translink RageDebate" thread - Page 3 - Vancouver's Top Classifieds and Automotive Forum - — June 19, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

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