From the “Tip of the Iceberg Department”; the RAV/Canada Line is going to cost TransLink money but until the BC Auditor General has a go at TransLink, SkyTrain and RAV, the public will never know the true costs of the new subway or of TransLink’s metro operation.
The $14 million to $21 million shortfall mentioned is just on the $300 million or so P-3 part of the project and TransLink’s portion of the metro and does not include the annual debt servicing costs of the over $1 billion in senior government money invested in the subway. If TransLink’s appeal of Susan Heyes lawsuit fails and hundred of other affected merchants sue, TransLink’s shortfall for the RAV/Canada Line will increase dramatically.
What is so ‘Joesph Goebbels’ about the piece is the term “strong ridership” – 83,000 passengers a day is not strong ridership for a subway, or metro! 83,000 passengers a day is really very poor ridership when compared to the at least 400,000 passengers a day that is needed to justify the investment on an almost $3 billion subway! Again, in METRO Vancouver, mediocre SkyTrain and metro performance is perverted by TransLink, through the mainstream media, as success.
The final insult is the quote: “The indication is that the line is attracting more car drivers because 79 per cent have access to a private vehicle for the trip compared with 66 per cent of riders overall. Three in 10, or 29 per cent, were not regular users of transit.”
TransLink, like BC Transit before, never asks a question that the answer can’t be twisted to suit its own ends; instead of asking: “Have you switched from car to transit“, which would have given a definite answer (an answer that TransLink may not like); asks the nebulous “Do you have access to a car?“, there by assuring a very hazy answer that can be easily manipulated.
What the news article failed to mention is that the RAV/Canada Line is force fed almost 40,000 bus passengers a day (which equals almost 80,000 trips as transit customers travel there and back), transit customers that once took direct buses from Surrey, Delta, Richmond to Vancouver, as well many bus customers on Cambie St. The new metro has probably increased transit ridership on the route by about 10%, but is this number attributed to students using the deep discounted U-Pass or a slight modal shift from car to transit. As RAV/Canada Line has no turnstiles and relies on laser counters that lose reliability in congested locations, ridership on the RAV/Canada Line nay be distorted by as much as 15%. Politely not mentioned is the airport portion of the line that despite initial hype and hoopla, is ignored. Recent polling by YVR and independent sources, indicate that very few airline customers are using the metro and almost no one is taking RAV to shop at the airport.
The RAV/Canada Line is full of stories, if only the mainstream media care to dig a little.
Canada Line to lose millions each year despite strong ridership
Shortfall of $14m to $21m per year till 2025
By Frank Luba, The ProvinceNovember 12, 2009
The new, $2-billion Canada Line will lose between $14 million and $21 million per year until 2025.
That’s despite the fact the line is rapidly approaching the 100,000 riders per day on which the project was based.
The information was contained in a report by provincial comptroller-general Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland concerning TransLink and B.C. Ferries, which was released last week.
While the report chided TransLink and the mayors’ council for not addressing the Lower Mainland transportation authority’s funding shortfall sooner, it acknowledged that TransLink was burdened with services where costs will be much higher than revenue for a long time.
“For example, the cost of operating the Canada Line [net of bus-fleet operating efficiencies] is expected to exceed the additional system revenue it generates until 2025, with costs exceeding incremental revenues by $14 million to $21 million for most years until then,” wrote Wenezenki-Yolland.
TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said the costs are partially the result of how the public-private partnership deal was structured to pay off more than $700 million put into the project by builder InTransitB.C.
“It costs less to pay more up front,” said Hardie. “It’s like paying off your mortgage earlier.” New Democratic Party transportation critic Harry Bains (Surrey-Newton) blamed the decision to build the Canada Line as a public-private partnership on the government’s “ideological” support of P3s.
Bains said the Canada Line deal is one of the reasons for TransLink’s ongoing need to raise more revenue, as pointed out in the comptroller-general’s report.
“It’s a sad situation,” said Bains. “I hope the government pays attention.” Figures provided by TransLink for the period from Sept. 9 to Oct. 6 show average daily ridership of 83,027.
Hardie said “the ridership to date is a very positive development.” But he said it was “too early” to say how many of those riders are new to transit or how many cars were taken off the road as the result of the transit megaproject.
Back in March, Premier Gordon Campbell said: “This project is the equivalent of investing in a new 10-lane road between downtown Vancouver and Richmond. It will take 200,000 one-way trips off the streets.” However, the best Trans-Link could do to back that up was provide feedback from its customer-service polling of 200 adult Canada Line riders, who were more positive overall than other transit users.
The indication is that the line is attracting more car drivers because 79 per cent have access to a private vehicle for the trip compared with 66 per cent of riders overall. Three in 10, or 29 per cent, were not regular users of transit.