Monday, September 28, 2015

It’s a lack of money, not TransLink, which is preventing transit service expansion in Langley

From time-to-time citizens, business associations, and non-profit organizations in Langley propose various transit-style services to fill-in real or perceived gaps in the service provided by TransLink.

I know that many in Langley believe that TransLink doesn't care about our community, and the lack of transit service in many areas of Langley is a results of TransLink not caring.

The challenge with all these proposals is that the cost of providing these services are normally underestimated. It seems that the proponents of these independent transit services believe that all they need is a physical bus and volunteer labour; this is never the case.

For example, TransLink community shuttle service runs between $300,000 and $1,000,000 per year to operate per route with a basic 30-minute service frequency. A less frequent service would have very limited use.

One of the more recent attempts to start an independent transit service was the Aldergrove Shuttle. This service would have provided bus service around Downtown Aldergrove and Gloucester Industrial Estates. Gloucester Industrial Estates is a business park around the 264th Street Interchange that is completely surrounded by farmland. Because of the design and location of Gloucester, it is not a walkable or transit-friendly area.

The fact of the matter is that TransLink doesn’t run transit in areas like Gloucester today because it would serve only a handful of people per day. Transit service to this area would run at a huge loss. As TransLink has been told to be more efficient with its money, and with no new money available to expand service, areas like Gloucester will likely never see transit service.

Over the last few years, funding for HandyDart service which provides “door-to-door, shared ride service for passengers with physical or cognitive disabilities” has been reduced. Because of this reduced funding, service has suffered. It is no surprise that many organizations in Langley are now calling for the creation of a Langley-based shuttle service similar to HandyDart.

At the last afternoon Township of Langley meeting, Council referred the following motion to its Senior’s Advisory Committee based on a previous delegation to Council.

Whereas the Township of Langley is an Age Friendly Community;

Whereas transportation is one of the key elements of the Age Friendly Strategy; and

Whereas the draft implementation plan for the Age Friendly Strategy identifies the area of transportation as requiring further study and research;

Therefore be it resolved that the information provided by Ms. Reddington’s delegation be reviewed by staff for a report back to Council; and

Be it further resolved that this report include the exploration of a Seniors-Only Shuttle Bus for Greater Langley based on the survey results, which study would include consultation with seniors and senior-serving stakeholders as well as the business community.

Now assuming that the Senior’s Advisory Committee and Council decide to move forward with this proposal, will the Township of Langley, City of Langley, and other community organizations contribute funding to purchase the buses needed to run the service? Will these same organizations commit to spending the millions of dollars per year needed to operate the service?

Not to sound like a broken record, but the problem with transit service in our region is not TransLink. The problem with transit in our region is that there is simply not enough money to provide the services that people want.

While I certainly support more transit, paratransit, and custom transit service in Langley, no expansion will happen until the matter of funding can be resolved. Once funding is secured, regular and HadyDart service can be increased in Langley. No independent transit service will be needed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the premise that the real issue here is funding translink, not translink itself. What bugs me is that a city counsel would even consider a segregated service. ie. should we have a senior only shuttle. Is this fair? How many more subsidies should be given to seniors? Why would you disqualify a large portion of your potential ridership right off the bat. Such backwards thinking. Poor logic here all around and it's difficult to watch.