Canada Line airport surcharge to hit more (ghost) riders

Maybe, just maybe that the expected numbers of people expected to take the Canada line to YVR was grossly overestimated to secure YVR’s money for a light-metro/subway connection to Vancouver.

YVR contributed about $300 million to the Canada Line on the condition that a downtown to YVR service would be no longer than 25 minutes. This demand has shaped the Canada Line’s construction and operation but it seems much fewer people are taking the mini-metro to the airport, than was originally estimated.

Zwei has always wondered why a surcharge was authorized, while at the same time offering free service on the Sea Island portion of the CanadaAi?? Line. Getting tourists in a “gotcha” position with a transit surcharge is not the best way to greet tourist and with YVR being so central to Vancouver, taking the taxi is a viable option, especially if two or more people are traveling.

I believe the truth of the matter is that fewer people are taking the Canada Line option to YVR and TransLink, refusing to believe that, are applying the surcharge to more people in hopes of generating more revenue and in the end probably deter even more transit customers to the airport in the future.

Canada Line airport surcharge to hit more riders

byAi?? Jeff Nagel – Richmond Review

posted Dec 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

TransLink wants to make many more passengers pay a $5 surcharge to ride the Canada Line branch from Vancouver Airport to Bridgeport Station in Richmond.

The YVR AddFare is currently charged only for Canada Line riders who pay in cash to take the rapid transit line off Sea Island.

But with the introduction of the Compass card in 2014, TransLink is proposing to apply the same $5 additional fee to Compass cardholders who pay with stored value.

The YVR AddFare was approved in 2010 to generate extra cash to help cover TransLink’s shortfall in funding the Canada Line to Richmond and YVR.

TransLink officials say large numbers of people who now pay in cash at the airport are expected to switch to Compass cards next year, resulting in a $1.4-million drop in annual revenue if nothing is done.

Extending the AddFare’s reach to more people is forecast to generate an extra $1.7 million.

Many savvy transit riders dodge paying the $5 surcharge by instead buying a day pass or a booklet of FareSaver tickets from a retail outlet at the airport, instead of paying at the station ticket machines.

But they’ll be out of luck once the Compass cards roll out and FareSavers are discontinued.

TransLink also proposes to charge the AddFare on day passes sold on Sea Island either by retailers or from the ticket vending machines.

The machines at Sea Island stations are currently disabled from offering day passes but TransLink says riders want to have the option to buy them there and are willing to pay the premium.

YVR employees and Sea Island residents would be exempt from the revised AddFare, as would holders of monthly passes, U-Passes, B.C. Government bus passes and CNIB passes.

The AddFare hasn’t been generating as much revenue as TransLink originally expected ai??i??Ai??the cumulative shortfall was $5.4 million at the end of 2012 and that’s forecast to grow to $12.2 million by the end of next year without changes.

TransLink Commissioner Robert Irwin will make a final ruling on the application and has asked for public comment by Jan. 31. Comments can be emailed to


3 Responses to “Canada Line airport surcharge to hit more (ghost) riders”
  1. Haveacow says:

    There is missing information here, how many are taking the Canada Line to YVR yearly? My assumption is that in 2010 they (the airport authority) at least broke even on costs. You see more than likely the money the airport authority paid into the construction of the Canada Line was floated with a public bond by either the province or feds (constitutionally it has to be one of them) those bonds average about a 4% yearly rate of return. This means the airport authority has to cough up to $12,000,000 a year on a $300,000,000 bond. The article says that the cumulative debt at the end of 2012 was $5,400,000, assuming they broke even the olympic year, that means an average of $2,700,000 per year for 2011 & 2012. Unless changes are made the cumulative debt is going to be $12,200,000 at the end of 2014. That means an average yearly debt in 2013 & 2014 of $ 3,400,000 a year. At $ 5.00 per passenger that means in 2012 & 2013 there were an average of 540,000 fewer passengers than planned and 680,000 fewer passengers per year in 2013 and 2014, than planned. This is all assuming that they are only covering the interest with these funds and are applying another income source to the principal of the of the debt. If not their yearly payout and the loss in passengers are both higher, by how much who knows? Like I said at the beginning we need to know how many passengers on the Canada Line are actually going to the airport? That means they have over estimated the number of passenger traveling to and from the airport willing to pay their surcharge by 2,440,000 in just 4 years, wow!

    Zweisystem replies: I believe the funding for the Canada Line is coming partly from YVR’s departure fees.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Oops, that should be 540,000 fewer passengers per year in 2011 & 2012 and 680,000 passengers yearly in 2013 & 2014 than planned.

  3. zweisystem says:

    The problem with TransLink is that we really do not know how many people actually use the Canada Line or the YVR leg of it. The Canada Line was supposed to have some sort of automatic counting but in the end relies on Translink’s ‘alchemists’ formula for counting transit ridership. Ridership is guesstimate at best. TransLink doe not even know how many of the 110,000 U-passes that are in use!

    From personal observation, very few actual airplane passengers use the line but employees who park in parking lots on Sea Island use the Canada Line for free. My wife’s sister in law works at YVR and even though she lives near the Canad Line, drives and parks and used the mini-metro for a one station trip to her place of employment. Thus we then have to calculate how many people pay to use the Canada Line and how many people ride it for free.

    On another note, just heard on the radio, a TransLink spokes person said that SkyTrain has a far greater capacity than LRT and SkyTrain has proven to attract more ridership than light rail!!! I phoned the radio station’s news dept but they were just not interested.