The apportioned fare – what is it? Will TransLink do it?


1 Fare machine

In London England, if one wishes to travel from ones residence near Morden Road in South London to the City of London Airport in the East end, one would have to travel in three travel zones, taking a Croydon Tram Link Tram to Wimbledon; transferring to a ‘Southwest Trains’ to Waterloo Station; transferring again to the Jubilee Tube; and finally transferring to the Docklands Light Railway to the City of London Airport, completing ones journey. Four transfers onto four different Transportation Operating Companies, yet all done without fuss with an ‘Oyster‘ travel card, where each portion of the journey was recorded an each transportation company had their portion of the four transfer journey automatically and correctly ‘apportioned‘ from the 3-zone fare.

To simplify, a $12, 3-zone fare was ‘apportioned’  four ways so that each of the Transportation Operating Companies received their fair share of the 3-zone fare.

With TransLink, there is no method of apportioning fares between bus, Seabus, or SkyTrain, as there is no method in determining how a fare is used or how many transfers take place on one ticket. This suited TransLink fine because they could make all sorts of claims, such as “SkyTrain pays its operating costs“, etc. with full knowledge that they did not apportion the fares between buses and the metro, even though they do know that at least 80% of SkyTrain’s ridership first take a bus to the metro and no one knows how many transfer again to a bus.

This is about to change because the new Canada line Metro system is a Public, Private, Partnership or P-3, where the ridership potential was so bad that TransLink must subsidize the operating consortium until ridership reached a 100,000 passengers a day. There is a problem; how many people will first take a bus to the Canada line and how many more transfer again to a bus afterwords? This is important because if TransLink counts full 1, 2, or 3-zone fares as strictly Canada Line fares and does not apportion them between bus and metro, the bus system will suffer great financial loses.

Example: A $5.00 cash 3-zone fare from Whiterock to UBC involves a bus trip to the Canada line (used to be direct to Vancouver); a forced transfer to the Canada Line; and another transfer to a bus to UBC, two transfers, from bus to metro and back onto the bus. The $5.00 fare should be apportioned two ways, one third ($1.66) to the Canada line and two thirds ($3.34) to West Coast mountain Bus (bus operating company). The issue gets even trickier with Day-passes, with unlimited daily travel on all of TransLink’s services.

Concession fares again will create havoc with Canada line revenue as using the the above example, the Canada Line portion of a 3-zone concession fare would be $0.84!

More problems arise with the airport surcharge and how it will fit into the ticketing scheme of things and the cost of enforcing the Airport surcharge.

Rail for the Valley worries that transit revenue for the buses will be skimmed off to pay for the Canada Line, which will lead to cutting of services and a degradation of regional transit, just like what happened when the first SkyTrain line was opened.



12 Responses to “The apportioned fare – what is it? Will TransLink do it?”

  1. viewfromthe44 Says:

    This suited TransLink fine because they could make all sorts of claims, such as “SkyTrain pays its operating costs“, etc. with full knowledge that they did not apportion the fares between buses and the metro, even though they do know that at least 80% of SkyTrain’s ridership first take a bus to the metro

    Can I ask clarification on this point? Are you saying that, for the 80% of passengers who ride a bus to the metro (and thus actually pay their fare on the bus), Translink counts those fares as Skytrain fares and not as bus fares? Or (and this would be even more misleading) does Translink count those fares twice–once for the bus and then once more for the train?

    Also, whichever it is, can you direct me to whatever article or Translink report explains that this is what they do? Thanks!

    Zweisystem replies: The 80% figure (80% of SkyTrain’s ridership first takes a bus to the metro) comes from a letter, TransLink spokesperson, Drew Snyder, wrote to the Vancouver Sun, last spring.

    Zweisystem quoted this figure in correspondence to two overseas transit consultants and their replies indicated that SkyTrain was not paying its operating costs and that the metro seemed poor in attracting the motorist from the car. Other comments were even more negative and not want to further incite the SkyTrain Lobby, they will have to wait for an upcoming article.

    We do not know how or even if TransLink apportions fares between bus, Seabus, and SkyTrain and as most fares are prepaid Fare-savers, Monthly, Annual or Day-passes, there is no accurate way to apportion fares. As such, it is impossible for TransLink to claim that SkyTrain pays its operating costs and the 100,000 passenger figure for the Canada Line is ‘stuff and nonsense’.

  2. viewfromthe44 Says:

    Thanks for the reply! I am curious about what sort of reasoning Translink uses to come up with figures like 100,000/day is what it takes to pay for the operational costs of the Canada Line. I’m not sure it would be impossible to determine how close different parts of the system come to paying for themselves, but as I say, I’d be curious to see Translink’s homework on those numbers.

    Zweisystem replies: I think TransLink used the very simplistic method of counting all boardings as fared paid to RAV, but as the posting points out, the fares should be apportioned between bus, Seabus, and SkyTrain and including (cash tickets, 1-2-3 zone fare savers, day passes, monthly and annual passes) discounted fares (including U-Pass), concession fares, real income for the Canada line could be much lower.

    Metro’s & Subways are also very expensive to operate and automatic metro need constant maintenance, which is a great added expense. TransLink certainly doesn’t broadcasts the fact that just the Expo Line costs about 60% more to operate than Calgary’s C-Train, which also carries far more ridership. Also note that the Expo Line is now in need of a $1 billion upgrade and in just 25 years of operation!

    The Canada line, no matter how one looks at it, will be a fiscal black hole, unless of course it starts carrying 400,000 or so passengers a day, which is just sort of the ridership needed to justify metro construction.

    Point of logic: The Calgary C-Train LRT carries over 270,000 passengers a day, more than SkyTrain, yet the cost to build was about half of the original Vancouver to New Westminster SkyTrain line. Today the total cost of SkyTrain today (incl. Surrey extension, Millennium Line & debt servicing) exceeds $6 billion, Calgary’s costs for LRT is still under $1 billion, yet TransLink claims that SkyTrain pays its operating costs (which I do not believe for a second), then Calgary’s LRT must makes huge operating profits! I do not hear a peep about this from Calgary. Me thinks the boys & girls at TransLink cleverly invents this stuff!

  3. Al Says:

    Oh my its bad enough that we have been building a very expensive if not the most expensive rapid transit system but now we have really complicated it all by adding a private operator to the mix who has to show a profit. And Translink will subsidize them on top of the subsidy they recieve.

  4. Chris Says:

    “Example: A $5.00 cash 3-zone fare from Whiterock to UBC involves a bus trip to the Canada line (used to be direct to Vancouver); a forced transfer to the Canada Line; and another transfer to a bus to UBC…”

    While you could take that route if you wanted to be narcissistic, nothing is “forcing” you. A bus trip from White Rock to Bridgeport, and from there 480 to UBC, is still the fastest route (about as fast as it ever was). Of course, this doesn’t advance the anti-Canada Line agenda your choice of wording betrays.

    Zweisystem replies: I doubt the 480 will run to UBC after Sept. 7 and only with a 30 minute service, it would be standing room only. The sad fact is, RAV or no RAV, taking transit options from Whiterock to UBC is very poor indeed. Of course you agenda is “spend, spend, spend and to hell with the taxpayer!”

  5. viewfromthe44 Says:

    Zweisystem — Translink has said explicitly that the 480’s route will remain unchanged after Sept. 7. For my part, I’m not completely sure why it’s getting singled out to remain in place. My thoughts here:

    Zweisystem replies: If the 480 is retained by TransLink then it gives much fodder for those wishing to retain the 601,602, express buses from South Delta to Vancouver, because they serve the Granville Corridor. What is forgotten by many is that there are several private schools right along Granville St. and what was a non-stop no-transfer journey, is now a round-a-bout 2 or 3 transfer journey. I do not think many parent who put their kids on a 601 or 602 bus to school, will risk a 2 transfer journey, especially with a station at Casino Junction. I know I wouldn’t!

    Map of route:

    But with a 30 minute service, the 480 doesn’t offer much for a Whiterock to UBC bound passenger.

    But here is the dichotomy between TransLink and most other transit providers in the USA and Europe. In the real world, transit planners try to reduce transfers and plan for a quicker and more comfortable service for its customers, while TransLink takes successful bus routes and forces their customers to transfer and take a rather expensive metro trip to Vancouver. For transit customers in south Delta and South Surrey, TransLink is being just mean spirited and once again demonstrates it doesn’t give a damn about transit customers.

  6. David Says:

    The 480 is a great example of a transit system running competing services in order to better serve its passengers. I believe that’s something zweisystem is in favor of. Another advantage of the retaining the route is a one transfer option for passengers on the 100, but I don’t imagine that’s a lot of people.

    I’m wondering if the 480 will disappear when the 43 is upgraded to a B-Line at some unspecified point in the future. TransLink told me at an open house that the City of Vancouver is holding up that project.

    I have to question the economic basis for serving the White Rock to UBC route with more direct service. The numbers can’t be very high and there is a point where long commutes should be discouraged. I don’t know whether I’d draw that line at White Rock, but surely the ultimate goal is to reduce the total miles travelled from home to work/school. The West Coast Express has reinforced the idea that commuting 70km is reasonable and that tends to lead to more auto dependent suburbs.

  7. viewfromthe44 Says:

    David — Your question about the 480 disappearing in favour of the 43 is exactly my question, too. I suppose there are Pythagorean reasons why the 480 would be quicker than the Canada Line to 43 — it’s cuts along the diagonal route. But still, you’d think Translink would want to direct passangers to the 43. Or at least, <i.I'd think that. . . .

    A comment by Zweisystem: Maybe political influence is retaining the 480. Not far fetched at all as Richmond has 3 Liberal MLA’s and a somewhat direct bus service to UBC would seem desirable. In Delta South there are 6 (count’em 6) bus routes; the C-84; C-86; C-87; C-88; C-89; and the infamous 609 (the Wally-Wagon), which run hourly or better bus services in Delta South that collectively carry fewer than 100 passengers a day! It seems Translink tried to (to be polite) induce Delta Council to support RAV/Canada Line and the abandonment of direct express buses to Vancouver. How long these mini-buses will last is anyones guess but seeing empty buses trundling here and there empty certainly doesn’t inspire anyone ante up more dough for Trans Link!

    One must remember that the person who ultimately controls Trans Link is Gordon Campbell and as Gordon Campbell’s big P-3 project is the RAV/Canada Line he will do everything he can to give the appearance of it being successful.

    Zweisystem listens to other experts who quietly shake their heads and the RAV/Canada line and the real expense of it. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we live in a drug induced dream, forever trying to turn lead into gold with our transit planning.

  8. Vancouver school kids have been making transfers for decades. « View from the 44 Says:

    […] transfers for decades. Posted by viewfromthe44 under Uncategorized Leave a Comment  In the comments to another post, Zweisystem says something I want to exception to: What is forgotten by many is that there are […]

    Zweisystem replies: What you do forget that TransLink is taking away a direct (no-transfer bus service) and replacing it with a 2 transfer service, with one transfer at Casino Junction and I severely doubt many Vancouver parents would let their children do that.

  9. viewfromthe44 Says:

    In at least one sense, I think you’re right: some parents won’t let their kids take that transit route to school. But these will be the same sorts of parents who now insist on driving their kids distances to school that people of my generation walked or biked. The trend among (relatively privileged) parents to insist on more and more parental supervision of their kids than previous generations of parents is a familiar one. It’s he trend that leads to schools being surrounded by parents’ SUVs at 8:30am. But none of this is Translink’s fault.

    But then again, a lot of kids are taking the bus to school because their parents can’t afford the time to drive them and can’t afford the extra car for the kids themselves to drive, if the kids are old enough.. These kids will keep taking transit to school, making two transfers to do so. I suspect they’ll grow up understanding that a transit network offering quick transfers is a very convenient thing.

    Zweisystem replies: I have taken the 601/602 for over 15 years and I was amazed at just how many private school kids were on the buses. On the 601 & 602, there must have been over 100! This is not a number to be taken lightly and I have had private conversations with parents who are affected. The real problem is the transfer at Casino Junction and there is great concern over this. It seems that car-pooling will be the answer, but it is a hell of a way to sell transit.

    RAV/Canada Line compounds many problems with our public transit service and doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is absolute madness. RAV is a disincentive to attract people to transit, where taking the car is just easier.

    The one question I like to know is how many free transit passes were issued by the Great Canadian Casino and YVR?

  10. David Says:

    The 480 does not cut a diagonal line, at least not according to the route maps shown at

    It’s possible that at some point in the past the 480 used a different route, but the one I see on the map doesn’t look very efficient, especially forcing it though Kerrisdale village where it can be faster to walk than drive.

  11. viewfromthe44 Says:

    David — You’re right! I looked at the route pretty recently, but somehow I got mixed up. For my part, I think that makes it all the more puzzling why that bus is staying on its pre-Canada Line route.

    Zweisystem — If the real problem is the proximity of Bridgeport station to the casino, well, I don’t doubt some parents are going to have a problem with that. But in the absence of any actual evidence that the station is going to turn into some dystopian crack den (Does the rest of that neighbourhood in Richmond have that problem? Did it somehow become the New DTES without anyone noticing?), then those parents’ concerns are baseless. I have no doubt that some parents will continue to have baseless concerns. Others will realize that their kids can handle a couple of transfers, including one that happens to be next to a casino.

    Only time will tell just what the overall effect of the Canada Line will be.

    Zweisystem replies: Sadly, we have now invested about $8 billion and RAV and the modal share remains at about 11%. I do not think RAV will alter that and to compound the problem, RAV is just too expensive to be expanded, which means for Richmond, a great White Elephant that is useless for residents, unless they want to travel to Vancouver.

  12. Chris Says:

    Another correction… not only does the 480 remain an option post-Sept-7, but it is NOT running a 30-minute service (as Zweisystem has misleadingly stated more than once). A quick check of Translink’s fall schedules show that it will operate every 7-8 minutes in weekday peak periods, much as it’s ever been.

    Zweisystem replies: I just repeated the schedule of the 480 as per TransLink’s web page. Now it seems that the 480 is a political decision to appease Richmond’s voters, thus to cascade the 600 series & 300 series of buses onto RAV is a political decision as well.

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