Monday, December 10, 2018

A look at TransLink’s two billion-dollar 2019 budget

With 2018 ending, local governments and agencies are working on preparing their budgets for 2019. TransLink is no exception and presented its 2019 budget for TransLink board approval last week.

Due to the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision, TransLink has seen its revenue increase from $1.6 billion in 2017 to a proposed $2 billion in 2019. TransLink’s main sources of operating revenue comes from fares, gas tax, and property tax.

Fares have always been the number one source of operating revenue for TransLink. Gas tax has historically been the number two source. Over the years, the amount of revenue that TransLink receives from gas tax has been declining as less people drive in the region due to higher gas costs. Gas tax is predicted to be the number three sources of revenue in 2019, a drop of 5 percent.

The following lists from TransLink’s 2019 Business Plan outline the priorities for the agency next year.

Priority One: Implement the Mayors’ Vision

  • Implement four new Rapid-Service B-Line routes including: 41st Avenue, Fraser Highway, Lougheed Highway and North Shore Marine Drive-Main Corridor.
  • Receive and commission the third new SeaBus vessel as well as 178 new conventional buses aimed to replace existing aging fleet and expand service.
  • Recruit and train transit operators and support staff to support the expanded service levels.
  • Test, commission and deliver 56 new Mark III rail cars.
  • Modernize the Expo and Millennium Lines infrastructure to increase capacity and accommodate growth.
  • Provide technical support for into the design of the Millennium Line Broadway Extension.
  • Construct new bus exchanges at Guildford.

Priority Two: Maintain a State of Good Repair

  • Support the replacement of the Transit Management and Communications (TMAC) bus radio system and supporting technology.
  • Implement the 8,000-kilometre internal Preventative Maintenance program at BCRTC in accordance with Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement requirements.
  • Install new fareboxes on Community Shuttle fleet.
  • Implement formal asset management plan and transform safety management system at British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd. (BCRTC) .
  • Develop and implement Emergency Response Plan through the IT Disaster Recovery Program.
  • Complete SkyTrain Noise Assessment Study and develop implementation plan.
  • Upgrade existing infrastructure and conduct ongoing preventative and corrective maintenance of bridges.
  • Implement a formal Safety Management System at TransLink Corporate.
  • Implement a Health and Safety Software system across the enterprise.

Priority Three: Enhance Customer Experience

  • Participate in the electric-battery bus demonstration and integration trial of the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) .
  • Receive and commission 32 double decker buses.
  • Implement new HandyDART travel training program and reservation system.
  • Implement McNeil recommendations (Independent Review of SkyTrain Service Disruptions) and deliver McNeil capital projects at the end of 2019.
  • Implement a tiered policing pilot utilizing Community Safety Officers (CSO) to enhance policing resources and improve efficiencies.
  • Expand marketing campaigns of the “See Something, Say Something” text 87-77-77 service.
  • Implement Passenger Information Displays on the SkyTrain system.
  • Make improvements to bus exchanges and SkyTrain stations such as new bus shelters, lighting, wayfinding, drive isle layouts and increases in bus capacity.
  • Support the implementation of the outcomes and Access Transit Service Delivery Review.
  • Enhance the Compass Card website and vending machine functions to improve the overall customer experience and respond to customer feedback.

The business plan outlines building the Fraser Highway B-Line and constructing a new bus exchange at Guildford. Given the recent shift to SkyTrain in Surrey, these priorities will likely drop off the list.

To accomplish its priorities, TransLink will be directly funding $1.7 billion in capital projects next year. Combined with federal and provincial money, this works out to $3.2 billion in new projects funded for 2019.

As I posted about last week, TransLink also grants money to municipalities for the major road network and to improve walking and cycling infrastructure. $56.5 million dollars will be made available for improving the major road network.

$13.4 million is being dedicated to fund new cycling infrastructure and $5 million for new walking infrastructure outside of the major road network. Langley City has been a recipient of this funding in the past for projects such as 203rd Street and the new multi-use trail on Duncan Way. We are also expected to receive funding for new cycling infrastructure on Glover Road and 208th Street from TransLink over the next several years.

TransLink has a bold 2019 business plan, and I look forward to seeing it being implemented.

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