Monday, November 9, 2009

Comptroller General Report, Again

I was looking at the Comptroller General’s report again and found it amusing that the cover page has a picture of Surrey Central Station from back in the BC Transit days. Is it a sign of things to come?

I wanted to follow up on my previous post about the report with a few more insights. First off, since the Province has been actively involved in transit planning since the inception of TransLink, it is probably a good idea for them to be at the table. The original TransLink was supposed to have representation from the Province. The issue was that no one from the Province would show up.

The other major issue is still funding and TransLink’s debt. The Comptroller notes:
Public transportation systems typically require some form of ongoing financial support in addition to fares. TransLinks current rate for fare box recovery to cost is 55%. That is, just over half the costs of operating a transit vehicle are recovered at the fare box, on average. The other 45% of the cost needs to be funded from sources other than fares.

TransLink’s financial situation is further stressed because some of the new infrastructure is expected to cost more than the revenues it will generate. For example, the cost of operating the Canada Line (net of bus fleet operating efficiencies) is expected to exceed the additional system revenue it generates until 2025…
The comptroller notes that the largest source of debt are from expand service in “lower ridership, geographically sparse areas.” (aka: South Fraser). She goes on to state that “actions should have been taken to contain rising costs through service rationalizations and other means to mitigate or prevent the known structural deficit that was being predicted.” Basically, don’t improve transit in the South Fraser.

Reading this report, it would seem like the major issue with transit in Metro Vancouver is the lack of proper funding. I think the Province has a choice to make. Will they work with the mayors to find new funding for TransLink to improve service in areas like the South Fraser, or lock us into a future of single modal dependency (driving)? I know that the current government likes using the words “balanced transportation”. Well unless transit is improved in the South Fraser, we will never see a balanced transportation system in the South Fraser. In fact with a 58% of all trip in Vancouver and 87% of all trips in the South of Fraser by auto, we are not balanced at all...

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