Monday, July 25, 2011

TransLink Strategic Transportation Plan 2000 - 2005

I used the WayBackMachine on the Internet Archive to download one of the first plans that TransLink put out when it was formed about a decade ago. Called TransLink Strategic Transportation Plan 2000 - 2005 (STP), it set out the agencies goals for improving transportation in the region. Over the next few days, I'll highlight different parts of the plan. Today, I'll look at some of the statistics.

Adult Fare Prices in 2000
1 Zone: $1.75
2 Zone: $2.50
3 Zone: $3.50

Adult Fare Prices in 2011
1 Zone: $2.50
2 Zone: $3.75
3 Zone: $5.00

Many people in the region have been complaining that transit users aren't paying their fair share into the system. Adult fares have increased about 70% over the last decade. Since 1999, TransLink has received 58% of its revenue annually from taxation. This ratio has not change in over a decade. Looking at these numbers, I can't see how anyone can say that TransLink is targeting one group of transportation users (ie: the driver). Improving transportation costs money, plain and simple.

Looking at system statistics, according the STP, in 2005 there should have been 6.21 million hours of transit service with a bus fleet of 1,640. There was about 5 million hours of transit service in 2005 and it wasn't until 2010 that we surpassed the 6.21 million hour mark with 6.4 million hours of transit service and a bus fleet of 1,525. TransLink missed the mark on improving service because one of its key sources of funding never came to be.
Vehicles charges - introducing a charge on motor vehicles averaging $75 per car, with the structure of the charge to be determine after public consultation, effective October 2001, increasing at 5% per year after 2002.
Tomorrow, I'll have a look at some of the transit plans that we're still waiting for and some other plans that never came to pass.

PS: The 2010 stats are from TransLink's 2010 Annual Report.


Unknown said...

You can actually answer your own point by simply looking at page 7 on the anual report.

So your claim is that it is unfair to complain that transit users aren't paying their fair share of the system. Well the page clearly shows that Transit accounts for 32% of all revenues incoming. It then states that Transit accounts for 60% of all expenses.

That means Transit costs 60% of the expenses to operate yet only takes in 32% revenue.

What does this translate to? This translates that transit riders pay for just over 50% of the Transit Operations. So the people using the system pay 50% of the money required to operate it. Let's think about that for a moment. Imagine you ran a business that sold a product and year after year the amount of revenue you generate from selling that product only earned you 50% of the amount it cost you to make that product. How long do you think you would be in business for? Probably a year then you'd fold up shop.

What the argument is by most isn't entirely the "motorists contribute way too much" but instead the argument is "why does Translink and the Provincial Government jointly have their heads up their behinds" when it comes to revenue generation. TRANSIT revenues should at the very minimum = Transit Operations. However they want to make that happen it should just be a requirement. That would completely remove subsidies.

And instead of trying to generate MORE money through transit they just continuously look for other sources. More property tax. More fuel tax. More motorist taxes. They need to make money for transit BY transit.

That's all I'm saying.

You are right though that saying motorists pay more is incorrect, right now. The balance is shifting though. In 5 years or 10 years given current projections, motorists will be paying more.

Right now it is about 42% transit riders and 40% motorists if you split Property Tax 50/50. However, look at all the revenue proposals right now.

1. Toll on Port Mann = 2-5% motorists
2. Fuel Tax increase = 2-5% fuel tax revenue from motorists

That means just in the next few years motorists will go from 40% to 44-50% of all revenue earned for translink. Compared to 42% from transit riders which won't change.

It may go up when fair evasion is tackled but this is just nickle and diming. Anyone who has listened to Mayor Watts about Translink will note she keeps harping on this style of revenue generation being unsustainable. We're dealing with 2-4% increases either direction when we really should be figuring a way to increase transit revenues by 28%. Fair gates won't increase by 28% alone. So what else do we need to do.

That should be more important than a gas tax here a property tax increase there. FIX TRANSIT REVENUES!

And to your point above, in 2010 again transit is generating on 32% revenue and that is AFTER a 70% increase in fairs. Could you imagine if they didn't increase fairs by 70%? Transit would be contributing only 10%!!

Nathan Pachal said...

Thanks for your comment. I just wanted to point out that the Port Mann Bridge has nothing to do with TransLink.

To you're point about transit paying for itself out of fares only. There is no system in Canada, the US, or Europe (and this includes New York and London) which recover 100% of their costs from transit fares alone. They have about a 50% fare box recovery. If you wanted transit to be 100% user-fee based, you'd have to do the same to roads otherwise you'll find yourself with no transit users. And don't forget without transit you can't build compact, complete, and sustainable communities. Transit has a large public benefit that can't be ignored.

Comparing us to Honk Kong or other Asian mega-cities is unfair because they have way higher densities, plus operation of a vehicles is either expensive dues to parking taxes/vehicle taxes/permits or just way slower or harder to get around than transit.