Wednesday, June 15, 2016

TransLink's first quarter results: Transit fare revenue flat, fuel tax revenue up, no ridership information

TransLink recently released in first quarter results. This is the first quarter in which the Compass Card system has been fully operational.

Year-over-year comparison of 1st quarter transit revenue. Select table to enlarge.

One of the items that I was interested in looking at was the increase in revenue due to the introduction of the Compass Card. As you can see, transit fare revenue was up about $63,000. One of the pitches for the Compass Card program was that the fare gates were supposed to crack down on fare cheats. This doesn’t seem to be the case. Granted, official fare gate closure only happened at the beginning of April, and some fare gates still are being left open from time-to-time due to accessibility issues.

The fare gates cost upwards of $10 million per year to operate, it is likely that the fare gates costs more to operate than they save in reduced fare evasion. The total cost to install the full Compass Card system was $165.1 million. Due to the Compass Card transition, TransLink has suspended providing ridership information until a new ridership estimation methodology has been put into place.

Year-over-year comparison of 1st quarter taxation revenue. Select table to enlarge.

One of the ironic things about our transit funding formula is that it relies on a per litre fuel excise tax. This means that as the cost of fuel goes down, the amount of money TransLink receives from fuel purchased goes up as people tend to drive more. When the cost of fuel rises, more people turn to transit to get around. It’s ironic because as people drive less, less funding is available for transit. A percentage-based fuel tax would make more sense. All that to say, revenue from fuel tax was up $10 million in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

One of the good things about TransLink is that they focus on keeping our transit system in a state of good repair. It seems that they don’t expand transit service unless there is funding to maintain it. The following is a list of major projects that TransLink is working towards approval for in 2016:

  • 2017 Conventional Bus Replacement Program ($92.7 million).
  • Surrey Central SkyTrain Station Upgrades ($17.6 million).
  • 2016 Conventional Bus Replacement Program ($16.2 million).
  • SkyTrain Automatic Train Control Equipment Replacement ($12.4 million).
  • Signage and Station Fixture Replacement ($6.8 million).
  • Seismic Upgrade South SeaBus and Skywalk ($6.0 million).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey... the gates closed in April. Just saying.