Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sub-area Equity in Transit Delivery

One of the perennial concerns about transit is the perceived inequality of service delivered between the sub-regions of Metro Vancouver. People in Vancouver feel that underutilized bus service is being provided to the car-loving suburbs while their routes suffer from pass-ups and overcrowding, while people in the South of Fraser feel like they are paying for Vancouver's overpriced SkyTrain while they have poor bus service. TransLink has taken the position that since they are a regional agency, they don’t actively disclose how much money is spent in each sub-region believing that transit is a regional service. I was reading Sound Transit’s (the regional transit authority in Seattle) latest financial plan and stumbled upon something called Subarea Equity.

One of the unique features of the Sound Transit plan is that it formally commits to creating a balanced regional transit system that proves benefits to the residents of each of Sound Transit’s five geographic areas – Snohomish County, North King County, South King County, East King County, and Pierce County.

Sound transit is funded by sales tax, vehicles levies and fares. As part of their commitment to funding transit equitably, each sub-region gets back what it puts in. Sound Transit even posts details financial records online to prove this.

While TransLink is a bit different in its tax makeup (mostly fuel tax and property tax) if it wanted to put the issue of transit equity to rest, maybe it should follow Sound Transit’s model. As a start TransLink could show that each sub-region is at least getting its property tax delivered into local services. It would show that all of Metro Vancouver is in it together and that one community isn’t being sacrificed for the needs of another.


OctaviusIII said...

I'm not sure if regional equity is such a great idea. A strong, well-oiled central Vancouver helps Abbotsford and Coquitlam because central Vancouver is the beating heart of the region's economy. The body suffers if the heart suffers, even if a given part of the body, like the eyes, doesn't seem to have much of a connection at first.

Put another way, the money each subregion invests into Vancouver has a high return on investment, even if the project is just a Broadway subway.

If the subregions want strong transit service, they need to build strong centers to support such service, not the car-centric crap they continually encourage.

Blair said...

Octavius, maybe in the 1970s what you're saying might have been true but in 2012 itis simply not the case. Vancouver is massively overrated by its residents who remain unaware that the rest of Metro has taken over most of its historic roles. Light industry has been chased away as has warehousing with that work going to Coquitlam, Poco, and Langley and the old areas turned into condos. New business districts are popping up in Burnaby and Surrey and even the Port is a shadow of its old importance with the new container port and Gateway.

The "suburbs" like Langley actually import workers (more jobs than workers in the community) and need transit. Gloucester desperately needs bus service for the thousands of warehouse and light. Industry jobs and both Surrey and Langley need cross-town service.rather than service as hubs for travel to Vancouver.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is considering sub-area equity a good idea they should go to the Seattle transit blog and look at a few posts and see the comments. A frequent point is how good we have it up here...because we don't have it.