TransLink’s Fiscal House of Cards

Is TransLink’s financial ‘house of cards‘ ready to collapse? It seems the independent commissioner overseeing TransLink thinks so.

Certainly the ‘self proclaimed‘ transit experts are circling TransLink like vultures seem to thinks so, by advocating more onerous taxes on the public with ‘road pricing‘ and even a ‘border toll’.

Zwei has not heard of one academic and very few politicians advocating for a restructuring of TransLink and a rethink how and why we provide public transit.

The cabal of ‘self proclaimed‘ transit experts, really want their day in the sun, like those who advocated for the (non) carbon tax, so they too can pick up lucrative public speaking engagements, extolling the virtues of their pet tax.

TransLink’s problem is simple enough, it is not providing a consumer based product and expects ever increasing subsides to continue to do what doesn’t work. It’s like selling black and white TV’s in the 21st century.

As always, it is the transit customer who is left at the bus stop and the taxpayer taken for a long expensive ride.

TransLinkai??i??s 2014 financial operating plan red-flagged by independent commissioner

Three ‘areas of concern’ identified

At the top of independent commissioner Robert Irwinai??i??s concerns, found in his report of the 10-year-plan, is TransLinkai??i??s reliance on real-estate revenues as a major source of revenue and the timing of some of these sales ai??i?? something he described as not prudent.

Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG

TransLinkai??i??s independent commissioner has red-flagged three ai???areas of concernai??? in the transit authorityai??i??s 2014 financial operating plan, warning they have the potential to dramatically affect programs, investments and operations.

At the top of commissioner Robert Irwinai??i??s concerns, found in his report of the 10-year-plan, is TransLinkai??i??s reliance on real-estate revenues as a major source of revenue and the timing of some of these sales ai??i?? something he described as not prudent.

Irwin noted that TransLink has pushed back the sale date of major assets ai??i?? like the Oakridge transit station for example ai??i?? by a year and also scaled down total projected revenues by $90 million due in part to ai???a reduction of projected gains on some properties.ai???

ai???Any further delay in the sale of major properties pose a significant risk,ai??? Irwin noted in his report. ai???The commission again points out that the sale of assets to support operations is not prudent fiscal policy, while recognizing that the only other recourse for TransLink would be fare increases or service reductions in the absence of additional funding sources.ai???

Irwin also warned that if TransLink doesnai??i??t continue to receive 100 per cent of the Federal Gas Tax that some $367 million in planned capital expenditures will be put at risk, including the authorityai??i??s vehicle replacement program.

The current deal with Metro Vancouver expires in March 2014 and the Metro Vancouver Board has ai???signalled that it may wish to change the agreement,ai??? Irwin noted.

Labour costs were also underlined by Irwin as something that dramatically impact TransLinkai??i??s finances. Earlier this year, the authorityai??i??s bus drivers and other unionized staff agreed to a three-year deal that will expire in March 2015.

ai???A major portion of TransLinkai??i??s operating costs is labour … the potential impacts of higher labour costs on TransLinkai??i??s future financial results are significant,ai??? Irwin wrote, noting that he otherwise found the plan to be ai???reasonableai??? in its economic assumptions.

TransLinkai??i??s base plan projects total revenues of $1.44 billion in 2014 and $1.6 billion by the end of 2016. The money will come from existing revenue streams such as property tax, fuel tax, transit revenues and tolls.

The funds should allow TransLink to deliver the same level of service as outlined in the 2013 plan, meaning there will be no overall service cuts. However, Irwin noted that current funding levels donai??i??t allow TransLink to keep pace with long-term population growth.

ai???Service hours per capita are projected to decline to 2007 levels by 2016 and continue to decline to 2004 levels by the end of the outlook period,ai??? he wrote.

NDP transportation critic George Heyman said Irwinai??i??s report underscores the need for a new TransLink funding model. And he called on the government to stop delaying. A provincial referendum will be held next year on potential funding options for TransLink.

ai???Every day hears more about the human impact of this waiting game,ai??? Heyman wrote in a statement. ai???The B.C. Liberals need to stop delaying agreement on a new funding model and act now to maintain this critical transportation system.ai???

A statement from the Ministry of Transportation noted Transportation Minister Todd Stone continues to work the Mayorai??i??s Council to find new funding sources. The statement also noted that the government has provided TransLink with $2 billion since 2001.

ai???Metro Vancouver has an excellent transportation network,ai??? the statement said.

colivier@theprovince.com

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Comments

One Response to “TransLink’s Fiscal House of Cards”
  1. Richard says:

    Boarder toll? Is that for longboarders or snowboarders? Actually snowboarders already have a toll. It’s called a lift ticket.