Monday, November 2, 2015

Come invest at TransLink: information about the agency's growth

TransLink is a unique transportation authority within North America. It is responsible for the delivery of transit service, and funding the construction and operation of the regional road network in Metro Vancouver.

TransLink also has an oddball governance structure, being pulled in multiply directions by the whims of the province and the needs of the region.

One of the other things that makes TransLink different in Canada is that it can directly issues bonds and other “market securities” to get cash to financial its various capital and operational programs. Because of this, TransLink makes “investor information” available.

Last week, TransLink released an investor presentation called “Driving Performance”. This presentation contains some interesting information about the agency.

One interesting slide shows TransLink's revenues sources. In the unutilized revenue sources section, a vehicle levy is noted. The provincial government won’t actually authorized ICBC to collect the levy on behalf of TransLink, so I wonder if this really is an available funding source. The other unutilized revenue source available is area benefiting taxation.

TransLink's revenue sources. Select graphic to enlarge.

Land values tend to increase around rapid transit line. An area benefiting tax taps into that increase to help pay for those major transit projects. has a brief page about the various forms of value-capture financing used to pay for transit projects.

The presentation includes a slide on the increase in TransLink’s revenue, assists, debt, passengers, and employees. Since TransLink was created, its revenue and ridership has increased rapidly, but the investment in capital assets has increased at an even faster rate.

TransLink growth from 2000 to 2014. Select table to enlarge.

Some of the capital projects highlighted in the presentation include the construction of the Canada Line and Golden Ears Bridge, plus the purchase of 7 new commuter rail cars for the West Coast Express, 48 new SkyTrain cars, and over 1100 new buses.

The following table shows a more detailed breakdown of the value of TransLink’s assets.

Increase in TransLink assets between 2000 and 2014. Select table to enlarge.

The fact that TransLink has massively increased transportation infrastructure in Metro Vancouver, but there still remains a large backlog of unfunded projects, shows how much the provincial government under-invested and continues to under-invest in transit throughout Metro Vancouver.

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