Is TransLink’s Real Problem Just Bad Management

No surprises here, where over 130,000 deep discounted U-Pass ‘cheap fare cards’ (unlimited travel for a $1 a day) issued to post secondary students comes into play.

As rental costs soar past the unaffordable, post secondary students must either commute from home or commute from areas of cheaper rent. This means more students, taking more transit at deep discounted prices and when the transit levels are not increased to meet the demand, overcrowding happens.

The real problem is bad management, not lack of funds, but TransLink will do everything in its power to provide bad service to give the impression of lack of funding to goad the taxpayer to demand more money for transit.

What is missing from this article is classic TransLink double-talk, no real ridership numbers per route or daily bus cancellation numbers. Again the reason is simple, real numbers will get people like Mr. Eric Chris to do some number crunching, which in the end will show that what TransLink is trying to hide is endemic bad management.

TransLink is not cashed strapped as it has a healthy inflow of money from multiple sources; the real problem is, TransLink has a spending problem, exacerbated by extremely poor management.

TransLink passengers facing overcrowded buses, trains and more time in traffic

Published on: September 7, 2016
A Translink bus drives along Kingsway in Burnaby on Wednesday afternoon.

A Translink bus drives along Kingsway in Burnaby on Wednesday afternoon. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

Metro Vancouver transit passengers are facing chronic overcrowded conditions on bus, rail and West Coast Express ai??i?? and not just during peak commuting hours but all day, according to TransLinkai??i??s latest transit performance review.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said Wednesday that the cash-strapped transportation authority has witnessed record ridership in 2015 with 364 million boardings ai??i?? up 2.2 per cent since 2011 ai??i?? but has not been able to provide enough services to accommodate the regionai??i??s rapidly growing population. This has resulted in more bus pass-ups and increased waiting times for all transit users, including SkyTrain and West Coast Express. The additional volume is also being partly blamed for slower bus trips, as drivers are forced to stop more often to let people off.

ai???Weai??i??re not keeping up with population growth,ai??? Desmond said. ai???Weai??i??re slowly but surely falling behind and the trick, what we need to do to keep mobility, is to reverse

The hitch is that all costs money. The cost to provide one hour of service varies, but runs at about $100 for a conventional bus and $959 for SeaBus. On rail, it costs $111 for the Expo and Millennium lines, $563 for the Canada Line ai??i?? which includes payments to the operator of the system ai??i?? and $512 for West Coast Express.

The review, which is used to guide planners on managing and adding transit capacity, comes as TransLink is in discussions with regional mayors and the provincial government on a new funding source to financeAi??transportation expansion across the region. The federal and provincial governments have each committed one-third of the first phase of the mayorsai??i?? 10-year transportation plan, but Desmond notes TransLink still requires funding for the second phase of the plan as well as money to operate the plan, which is expected to add more buses, a SeaBus and rapid transit lines in Vancouver and Surrey over the next 10 years.

The last major investment in the transit system occurred in 2009, with the opening of the Canada Line. Since 2010, transit service has dropped from 2.71 service hours per capita to just over 2.4, the review noted, and TransLink has been managing growth in the system by shifting buses from low-performing routes to higher-performing ones, such as the No. 49 Vancouver/UBC and the No. 106 Metrotown to New Westminster stations, which last year saw increases of 1.3 million passengers and 530,000 passengers, respectively.

Route performance is based on the cost of operating the buses, rail, SeaBus or West Coast Express per passenger. A higher number of people getting on and off transit makes a route more productive. In Vancouver, for instance, the median cost per boarded passenger is $1.05, compared with $1.30 for Burnaby/New Westminster, $2.72 for South Delta and $2.48 for Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows. In the Northeast sector, which includes Coquitlam, the cost is $1.98 per passenger.

However, Desmond noted passenger numbers have jumped up all across the region ai??i?? not just in Vancouver and Burnaby/New Westminster ai??i?? which has resulted in overcrowding spilling over from the rush hour commutes into mid-day during the week and weekends. Overcrowding now occurs on 34 per cent of all weekday off-peak traffic, compared with 55 per cent during peak hours, the review found.

And with increased ridership across the system ai??i?? a route along Surreyai??i??s Fraser Highway, for instance, is consistently overcrowded despite two buses arrivingAi??every six minutes ai??i?? Desmond said there are fewer options to take buses from one area and move them to another.

ai???Weai??i??reAi??looking at options,ai??? he said. ai???Weai??i??ve got to move away from cutting services to getting more capacity in the

The situation has been exacerbated by higher density development around SkyTrain stations, with some stations such as Olympic Village, Marine Gateway and Templeton seeing increases of up to 28 per cent since 2011, as well as a rapid uptake in east-to-west bus trips as people travel to the SkyTrain for recreation or shopping trips within their own communities. The North Shore, for example, has seen a huge jump in trips heading east or west, when previously most travel was toward downtown Vancouver.

ai???Intensive land development around station areas certainly is driving a lot of that. With this growth in the system, itai??i??sAi??obviously putting pressure on our system across the board,ai??? Desmond said. ai???That development will not stop whether thereai??i??s transit service or not. And if thereai??i??s no transit, they are going to

Desmond said itai??i??s crucial to come up with a service and funding options to expand transit as soon as possible to relieve the overcrowding as well as provide more service to areas, particularly south of the Fraser.

TransLink is proposing to take some of its buses out of retirement, he said, which could help boost service by 10 per cent over two years, while it has the capacity to increase service on both the Canada Line during peak hours and the Expo and Millennium Line off-peak.

ai???The big if is what these funding sources will be and when they come on board,ai??? he said.

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