Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight is probably the regions best reporter on transit issues as he has researched SkyTrain and all other transit issues for almost two decades and his insight to RAV and SkyTrain issues clearly demonstrate this. What is not mentioned is that RAV will drain money away from the bus system, simply because TransLink will skim bus fares as RAV fares. In the real world of transit operations, when transit customers transfer from bus to metro or LRT, the fare is apportioned between the modes. Example if a $4.00 fare is paid and the transit customer uses bus then transfers to metro/LRT, the $4.00 fare is apportioned $2.00 for bus and $2.00 for metro/LRT. If the transit customer transfers once again tom a bus the apportioned fare should be $2.66 for buses and $1.34 for metro.
TransLink doesn’t apportion fares but collects fares in one pot and will give RAV the full fare, leaving the buses short. The same trick is used on SkyTrain, where 80% of SkyTrain ridership first take a bus to the metro, and has hobbled the bus system, creating large deficits, while at the same time TransLink makes the claim that SkyTrain fares are covering operating costs. One wonders how a subsidized metro system can claim that it pays its operating costs, when in fact it is subsidized?
The present SkyTrain system is subsidized by over $200 million annually and no doubt the RAV line will also be subsidized for the lifetime of the metro system.
Canada Line subsidy will be felt for years to come
By Charlie Smith
The 19-kiliometre Canada Line will open with great political fanfare on Monday (August 17).
The public will be allowed to ride for free from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the line, which runs from Waterfront Station to Richmond Centre and to the airport.
But that’s when the free ride will end. TransLink has already acknowledged that it might take until 2013 before the Canada Line generates 100,000 riders per day.
And that could be bad news for taxpayers and transit riders.
InTransit B.C. Limited Partnership, which is the private operator, has signed a 35-year deal with TransLink. And TransLink has guaranteed to subsidize Canada Line ridership shortfalls of less than 100,000 per day.
If TransLink, as a publicly funded body, wants to maintain public trust, it should report this subsidy on a quarterly basis.
TransLink is seeking an additional $450 million per year to enhance the transportation system. If it gets its wish, there will be new vehicle-registration charges as well as tolls on Metro Vancouver bridges, including those connecting Vancouver to the North Shore.
TransLink had better hope that the peak-oil theorists are wrong. Because if they’re correct, it will hit the transportation authority in three ways:
* Airport traffic will diminish, reducing ridership on the Canada Line.
* Rising fuel prices will cause people to curtail driving, which will reduce the amount of fuel taxes (12 cents a litre) rolling into TransLink’s coffers.
* Fewer people will be driving over tolled bridges including the Golden Ears Bridge. In the latter case, TransLink will have to offset this by providing greater subsidies to the private operator, just like it will do with the Canada Line if airport traffic diminishes.
The Canada Line is a primary reason why TransLink is in a financial pinch. I can recall two municipal politicians–Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie and former North Vancouver City mayor Barbara Sharp–voting in favour of the line in 2004 after a motion passed calling for a $1.35-billion cap on public financing.
The $1.35-billion figure is obvious fiction after the operating subsidies are included in the equation.
Louie and Sharp caved in the face of pressure from the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Vancouver Sun editorial board, the Vancouver Airport Authority, and the provincial and federal governments, which all wanted the line built.
If drivers, homeowners, and transit riders all end up paying a great deal more in the coming years, they can lay part of the blame on Louie and Sharp.
But they weren’t the only TransLink directors responsible. Senator Larry Campbell, former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum, Surrey councillor Marvin Hunt, former Langley City mayor Marlene Grinnell, Richmond mayor Malcom Brodie, and former Coquitlam mayor Jon Kingsbury all voted in favour of the Canada Line.
It’s worth noting that Larry Campbell’s friend, SFU criminologist Neil Boyd, cast the deciding vote at the regional board in favour of a $4-billion plan that helped finance TransLink’s contribution. At the time, Boyd represented Bowen Island on the regional board.
If the Bowen Island council had left the then-mayor Lisa Barrett on the board, the transportation plan likely would never have been passed because Barrett was a staunch opponent of building the Canada Line as a P3 project. Barrett, now a Bowen Island councillor, also didn’t believe the early forecasts that 100,000 people would be riding the Canada Line in 2009.
Because of a seemingly insignificant decision–replacing a regional board director in a tiny island municipality that had one vote at Metro Vancouver–the public might end up paying much higher transportation costs in the future.