Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Staving Off Transit Cuts for One Year: TransLink's Stop-Gap Investment Plan

TransLink Bus

TransLink provides public transit service in Metro Vancouver, manages certain bridges, and funds major roads, cycling, and walking infrastructure.

While we are now experiencing overcrowding on transit services throughout our region, a significant decrease in gas tax and massive inflation over the last few years combined with post-pandemic-restriction travel patterns means that TransLink will go bankrupt in a few years.

If the mayors were to try to fix TransLink's funding problems on their own, it would mean a 400% one-time TransLink property tax increase, plus 4-5% property tax increases annually in the future after that. Even the provincial government understands that this massive increase is unreasonable. The province government and mayors are working towards fixing this TransLink funding crisis. In the meantime, the mayors and the province are proposing a one-year, stop-gap plan to keep TransLink going, including some modest increases in transit service.

This one-year plan will be funded by a modest 2.3% fare increase this year and a 4% increase in 2025. 50% of households in Metro Vancouver will see a one-time increase in TransLink property tax, ranging from $10 to $91, depending on their home value. 50% of households will pay less than $37 in additional TransLink property tax. TransLink will roll back this property tax increase if the province doesn't come to the table with new funding tools for TransLink within the following year. In addition, the region's mayors would have to start planning for a 50% reduction in transit service in Metro Vancouver. This massive cut is something that no one wants.

This one-year stop-gap plan includes:

  • Addressing overcrowding and increasing off-peak service on about one-quarter of the bus routes in our region.
  • Extending service hours on 11 routes (322, 324, 341, 342, 363, 364, 430, 531, 560, 561, 595)
  • Introducing a new route to serve Surrey's East Fraser Heights
  • Starting the SeaBus 15 minutes earlier on weekday mornings
  • Improving late evening HandyDart service
  • Increasing frequency of the Canada Line during peak travel periods
  • Increasing capacity on West Coast Express
  • Purchasing new buses to support Bus Rapid Transit
  • Continuing zero-emission bus rollout
  • Continuing to fund the Bus Speed and Reliability Program (Bus Lanes, Queue Jumping Lanes, Bus Priority Signals.)
  • Continuing to fund roading, cycling, and walking infrastructure programs

Please read about this one-year 2024 Investment Plan on TransLink's website for more information. You can also provide your feedback there.


Frankly Speaking said...

Nathan - I heard your comments on the Jill Bennett show today. You mentioned several times that TransLink could go into bankruptcy. Is this seriously being considered, or were you just using those words to emphasize the depth of the debt and the large funding shortfall? I looked TransLink bankruptcy up online and all I could find was a Reddit thread.
Frank Bucholtz

Nathan Pachal said...

If we don’t find a path forward to plug a $600m gap in the budget, we will have to cut service by about half in the next few years. So, we would always have to balance the budget, but it would kill transit in our region.

Nathan Davidowicz said...

It will be up to the BC government to wake up and devise new methods to fund TransLink.