Rather than continue to modify and correct an earlier post I am going to simply report on the latest development in Translink’s ongoing financial tussle with the province.
The Minister of Transport was supposed to have come up with a new funding mechanism to ensure that transit in Greater Vancouver could be expanded to meet growing demand. Current funding sources are inadequate, so Translink has been “optimizing” transit service – taking service away from lightly used routes to bolster service where overcrowding and pass-ups are all too frequent. More rapid transit is needed – the two most urgent needs being from the end of the current SkyTrain Millennium Line at Vancouver Community College out to UBC, and a light rail system for Surrey – the fastest growing city in the region with some of the lowest transit provision relative to population. But there is no consensus on how to do that – yet.
Since the province has failed to produce any new funding mechanism – and has refused also to increase the available ones – the Mayors have decided to rescind a planned two year temporary increase in property tax. That was supposed to ‘fill the gap’ between current levels of financial support and the expected new funding source. Translink has now produced the 2013 Supplemental Plan which sets out how it will cope without the expected $30m a year from the temporary increase in property tax.
So what is going to change? Nothing. The Plan takes five pages and lots of informative tables to state that it is now doing better than expected and can continue to operate as planned without the extra $30m a year. Probably.
TransLink will be able to proceed with the existing program and service commitments for 2013 and 2014, including the expansion in the 2013 Base Plan. TransLink is able to do this as a result of better than expected performance in 2012, achieving further and significant operating efficiencies and by drawing down its cumulative funded surplus. Reductions to programs and services, or an increase in transit fare revenue, may be required in 2015. This will be determined through future base plans, however at this point further expansion is not possible without additional funding.
So that’s all right then. You are being consulted and you can respond here.
If you feel like it, you could point out that while Translink can manage on $30m a year less, if temporary property tax increase was left alone, then good things could be done to the transportation system. These examples of what $30m buys come from the Bike Portland blog – but $30m also buys quite a bit of additional transit service. Two years of no passups might be nice, don’t you think?