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TransLink mayors call for cancellation of new rapid-bus lines in Surrey/Langley + more til funding found

April 13th, 2012 · 21 Comments

Just one thing after another at poor old TransLink.

Hard to believe how much people loved it during and after the Olympics, when it was whisking around a couple of million people a day.

Now it’s everyone’s favourite whipping boy, with lots of blame being heaped on and not much discussion about how this region is going to move increasing millions of people around to their jobs and homes.

Anyway, here’s the latest. In response to Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom’s letter delivered Tuesday, putting in writing the province’s refusal to consider any more gas-tax increases, a vehicle levy or a regional carbon tax (for now, at least, on that last), the mayors have voted to call for a cancellation of the improvements that those mechanisms were supposed to pay for.

Three south of the Fraser mayors voted against that, as you’ll see in the story. If you’ll recall, those improvements were part of a total package designed to give something to everyone in the region. Mayors didn’t want to have a supplementary budget that only had one item: the Evergreen Line and a gas-tax increase to pay for it. So they added these other elements.

And, just to continue catching up, this follows on the report from Transportation Commissioner Martin Crilly, who turned down Wednesday TransLink’s request for fare hikes above its allowed limit. Crilly commissioned a report to support that, whose 103 pages closely examine its costs, particularly for buses.

That report is here. My far less comprehensive story on same is here. I will add, for you to contemplate while you’re reading, that report looks at TransLink’s spending from 2006 to the end of 2010 — the period that the commissioner was able to get the completed statistics for.

Those statistics are what led Crilly to say that TransLink’s productivity and costs per service hour are out of line with transit services in other cities. He noted that it costs Vancouver $130 per service hour, second only to Toronto.

But as TransLink planners noted in a technical briefing afterwards, that period was a time when the system was expanding rapidly. It’s typical that costs per rider or per hour of service will climb at a time like that, as the service expands but the public hasn’t totally caught on to it yet.

We tend to think that all transit improvements are like the Canada Line — millions of people jump on the minute the doors open. But most transit improvements don’t work like that. It takes a few months or even a year or two before people realize that their options are improving.

The number of people boarding per day and the costs per passenger started showing signs of improving in 2011 and more is expected in 2012.


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