Thursday, June 22, 2017

Results of public feedback on transit fare review: distance-based fare for rail, flat fare for bus

Our current system of how we pay for our transportation network in Metro Vancouver is under review. There are problems with our current transportation system in our region such as regional inequity, increasing traffic congestion, over-crowding on buses and trains, and continuing reduction in our ability to support transportation investment with current revenue options. Changing how we pay for the transportation system can resolve these problems.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation has recently setup a Mobility Pricing Independent Commission to make recommendations on ways to improve how we pay for using roads and bridges in our region. At the same time, TransLink is undergoing a transit fare review.

The most effective system for roads, bridges, and transit would be a full user-pay, distance-based pricing system. The likely results of both the Mayors’ Council road pricing review and the TransLink fare review will be a system with some user-pay, distance-based fee elements, user-pay, flat fee elements, and taxation elements.

TransLink recently completed a report of public feedback for different fare options for transit.

Level of support for various bus service fare options. Select table to enlarge.

Level of support for various rail service fare options. Select table to enlarge.

Level of support for fares based on service type. Select table to enlarge.

For bus service, the strongest support was for keeping the current flat fare system. For rail service, the strongest support was for moving away from the zone-based fare system, and moving to a distance-based fare system. Keeping a premium pricing structure for West Coast Express also received the strongest level of support.

It was interesting that there wasn’t strong support for different fares for some types of transit services in the pubic feedback as people seemed to most support a flat fare model for buses, distance-based fare model for SkyTrain, and distance-based, premium fare model for West Coast Express. This certainly seems like a system with fares that differ for some service types.

Level of support for various time-of-day fare options. Select table to enlarge.

Back in the BC Transit era in Metro Vancouver, zoned-based fares were only charged during peak travel periods on transit. There was strong support for moving back to a system where you pay more during peak travel periods, and less during off peak periods.

Based on public feedback, TransLink will be working to develop a short-list of options for a new fare system for transit which should be made available later this year. The final recommendation for a fare system will be done in 2018.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A first look at Surrey LRT, public feedback wanted

With the federal government now committed to investing billions of dollars into public transit infrastructure, and with all provincial parties now clamouring in support of transit investment, planning for the imminent construction of light rail in Surrey is once again moving forward.

Earlier this week, TransLink released new information about the Surrey-Newton-Guildford light rail project, and is seeking feedback on their LRT vision. As part of seeking public feedback, TransLink has posted new information, drawings, and renderings of what LRT could look like in Surrey.

One of the big changes that light rail will bring, besides faster and higher-capacity transit service, is a complete resign of King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue.

The following drawing shows what 104 Avenue may look like. 104 could be transformed from a four-lane, auto-oriented corridor, to an multi-modal corridor with reduced vehicle travel lanes, protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and of course light rail.

Illustrative example of 104 Avenue east of 114 Street. Select image to enlarge.

King George Boulevard could be transformed from a four- to six-lane highway into a real multi-modal boulevard with street trees, reduced vehicle travel lanes, protected bike lanes, and sidewalks with light rail running down the middle of the corridor.

Illustrative example of King George Boulevard and 76 Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Compared to SkyTrain stations, the proposed light rail stations will be streamlined. The following is an example of a typical light rail station as is currently being proposed.

Proposed typical cross-section of Surrey LRT station. Select image to enlarge.

Because light rail stations are at street level, there will always be clear sight-lines between the street and the stations which will enhance the safety of people at the stations, and surrounding businesses and residents, due to “eyes and ears” on the street.

The information posted also shows how current signalized intersections will operate with LRT, including the introduction of legal U-turns at certain major intersections as minor intersections along King George and 104 will be transformed into right-in, right-out only intersections.

The following rendering shows how light rail could integrate with Surrey Central SkyTrain station.

A rendering of proposed integration between SkyTrain and light rail at Surrey Central. Select rendering to enlarge.

To complete an online survey to share your views, or to find out more information about upcoming open houses, please visit TransLink’s Surrey LRT Project page.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Looking at TransLink revenue and the Compass Card effect, one year after fare gate closure

Last night, Global News posted and aired a story about TransLink’s increased revenue and reduced fare evasion since the closing of the fare gates and retirement of older fare products last year. You can watch the video by select the image below.

Earlier this year, I posted on TransLink’s revenue, and the impact from Compass Card fare products and the closure of the fare gates. I found that the closure of the fare gates seemed to have resulted in an increase in cash-like revenue to the tune of $10 million and a similar spike for DayPass fare products in 2016. For a detailed breakdown, please select the table and graphs below.

A detailed breakdown of TransLink's fare produce revenue between 2014 and 2016. Download the full document.

As I also noted at the time, the Compass Card system cost $8.4 million to operate and $2.8 million to maintain in 2016. The amortized yearly capital cost of the Compass Card and fare gate system over 20-years is $9.3 million. For 2016, that works out to about $20 million for capital and on-going costs.

The Compass Card and fare gate system has had a positive impact on revenue, customer convenience, and data, but it hasn’t produced a windfall profit for TransLink.

One of the things I talked about in the story is that the Compass Card system helps keep bus passengers honest too. Besides ensuring that people pay the correct fare every time, as I pointed out in the news story, “people see people tapping and when you don’t, there’s a community thing where: ‘Oh, you’re one of those cheats’.” Most people don't want to be singled out as a cheat.

Monday, June 19, 2017

An update on the Langley City Crime Prevention Task Group

Last Thursday was the second meeting of the Langley City’s Crime Prevention Task Group. Task group members are from the general-public, Langley City, RCMP, Downtown Langley Business Association, and Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.

You can review my notes on the first meeting by reading a previous post; at the first meeting, we discussed the task group’s mandates, and our work plan to meet the mandates. The eight mandate items are as follows:

  1. Promote a CPTED review at geographic areas where there are high levels of crime. This could be on private properties or City facilities and parks.
  2. Allocating adequate budget to implement the CPTED recommendations [on City property, facilities, and parks.]
  3. Partnering with the Downtown Langley Business Association and Chamber of Commerce to introduce an incentive program for property owners to implement crime prevention initiatives including CPTED.
  4. Implementing a communication strategy that send the signal that City facilities and parks are monitored and that criminal behaviour is not tolerated.
  5. Increase RCMP foot and bike patrol in the downtown core and at crime hot spots.
  6. Increase police presence at geographic areas where there are high levels of crime.
  7. Promote and support Crime Watch in residential neighbourhoods.
  8. Promote and support Business Watch in commercial and industrial areas.

The RCMP already have programs in place to target geographic areas where there are high levels of crime, and increase “on the street” presence including bike patrols. The task group felt that these items were already covered by the RCMP, and decided to mark these two mandate items as complete.

One of the keys to ensuring the success of these RCMP programs is to report all crime or suspicious behaviour. Due to this, task group members felt that encouraging the reporting of all negative activity to the RCMP is critically important. As a result, one of the action items for the task group will be to find the most effective way to promote the reporting of all crime.

Another of the mandates of the group is to promote CPTED reviews. These reviews are done as a free service by the RCMP to advise businesses and residents on how their building’s design, lighting, and landscaping can be modified to reduce negative activity. The task group will be working on how to encourage building owners to take part in these reviews, and implement the recommendations of the reviews.

Finally, the task group will be focusing on how to reinvigorate the Block Watch and Business Watch programs.

With the second Crime Prevention Task Group meeting complete, and general action items agreed upon by members, the task group will now be getting to work to fill in the details of the action items to help prevent crime in our community.