Thursday, November 15, 2012

TransLink Fare Increase

On Tuesday TransLink announced that fares will be going up in January. Just like the price of a stamp, the price of a transit ticket is scheduled to go up at a rate of 2 percent per year. The only difference is that TransLink usually waits a few years before applying the compounded 2 percent increase. It really should be no surprises to anyone that fares go up. By law, TransLink is allowed to raise fare by 2 percent per year. TransLink actually asked to raise fares by an additional 6.4%, but that was rejected by the TransLink Commissioner early this year. The rejection of the additional fare increase combined with the Province’s refusal to entertain another long-term funding source for TransLink is why the brakes have been applied to transit expansion in the region. Both the TransLink Commissioner and the Province thought that an efficiency study would find hidden money within TransLink to fund transit expansion, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I was on CBC radio yesterday afternoon talking about the fare increase and how, while nobody wants to pay more for the same level of service, the proposed fares are still economical. The reality is that if fares didn’t go up, service would be cut and I don’t think that anyone wants that. I also believe that as we are looking for other taxes to pay for transit expansion, user fees for the system should go up as well. Currently, 33 percent of TransLink’s revenue comes from fares. Other world-class transit systems collect closer to 40 – 50 percent of revenue from fares, so I believe that transit riders are still getting a good deal.

I have a three-zone pass and come January, I’ll be paying an extra $0.63 per day for transit. I think that is good value for my money. The reality is that if we actually want to expand our transit system, fares will have to be increased and a new long-term source of revenue needs to be found, like road pricing to build a sustainable region. And at the end of the day, transit is still way cheaper than operating a vehicle.

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