Posted tagged ‘Translink’

TransLink ‘powerless’ to settle strike

November 20, 2009

The Province

By Frank Luba

Union wants binding arbitration, but U.S. contractor won’t go there

Thursday’s demonstration by unhappy HandyDart workers won’t force TransLink to get involved in the dispute between the company, to which it contracted out the service, and its workers.

About 150 striking members of Local 1724 of the Amalgamated Transit Union protested noisily outside a downtown Vancouver hotel where politicians and chief executives were attending the Metro Vancouver cities conference.

The union is demanding binding arbitration between it and employer MVT Canadian Bus Inc.


TransLink could make millions from real estate

August 31, 2009

By Jon Woodward

The authority responsible for public transit in the Lower Mainland is taking stock of its properties and preparing to be a multi-million-dollar real estate broker, a spokesman said today.

In ten years, TransLink could be looking at between $10-million and $50-million in revenues each year for building condominiums around SkyTrain stations, Park and Rides, and old maintenance yards, said spokesman Ken Hardie.

“There are some properties that TransLink owns outright, for instance the old bus depot on 41st, the Oakridge site, a very prime piece of property,” he said. “We also have a very fine piece of property along False Creek that used to be a transit centre way back when, and there are other pieces of land around the region.”

The transit authority is moving quickly on finding a way to make up an $18-million shortfall because of lost revenue from a canceled parking tax. That tax raised $19-million in 2006 and $21-million in 2007.

One idea being explored is a possible property tax hike, Hardie said.

But the idea to develop real estate came up during TransLink’s recent governance review last year, said Hardie.

Then the provincial government made changes to the law in November to allow TransLink to hold property, and TransLink hired a new executive to manage its real estate dealings.

The agency doesn’t have much land around the Expo or Millennium Lines, because it sold off any excess land after it was finished building.

But it’s looking at other properties such as properties near Oak St. and 41st Avenue, and a yard along False Creek near Science World.

Other possible options for development might be the Coquitlam park and ride, which could be turned into a high-density mixed-use hub, he said.

“These are early days. We hired a vice-president real estate in 2007. Up until this point the focus has been to get a good handle on the holdings that we have,” he said.

But soon millions could be acquired, he said.

“For TransLink’s purposes, every dollar that we earn this way is a dollar we don’t have to charge taxpayers or drivers,” he said.

The University of British Columbia has also made millions for its endowment fund by developing portions of its campus.


HST could quash TransLink’s pay parking tax

August 27, 2009

Richmond Review

By Jeff Nagel – BC Local News

B.C.’s Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is threatening to take away one of TransLink’s planned tax revenue sources.

The transportation authority currently gets $15 million a year from a seven per cent provincial sales tax that’s added to pay parking lot fees.

TransLink intends to double or triple the pay parking tax to either 14 or 21 per cent, depending on which transit expansion plan under consideration gets approved by the mayors’ council.

But the HST will next summer replace the GST and the PST – including the dedicated TransLink parking tax – and it’s unclear how TransLink will get the money, officials say.

“If we can’t collect it and we can’t get it, that’s a big piece,” said TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast.

The HST would be collected by the federal government, ending the province’s sales tax collection bureaucracy.

The province could agree to remit to TransLink the equivalent of the seven per cent provincial component of the HST it gets from Ottawa.

But there’s no obvious way a customized, higher amount could be charged on pay parking lots on TransLink’s behalf.

“That just came out of the woodwork in the last two weeks,” Prendergast said.

Tripling the parking sales tax to generate an extra $30 million was one of the identified revenue sources in a proposed funding scenario to generate an extra $130 million a year to keep TransLink on life support and avert deep cuts.

A much more ambitious expansion plan would double the parking tax immediately and move it to 21 per cent in 2015.

Prendergast said the HST has no impact on the transit fares or fuel tax that TransLink collects.


– TransLink Directors have no experience in transportation

August 18, 2009

STOP THE ELITE from designing our transit system!

No wonder TransLink gets it wrong most of the time. Here's one director: looks about 80 years old?
No wonder TransLink gets it wrong most of the time.  Even the chair person has NO transportation, customer service, union, or small business experience.

After reading the Bio’s of the Directors it has become clear why TransLink management is so screwed up.  They’re either friends of the Liberal regime, or accountants, economists, investment bankers, ex-PR flacks, and of course, lawyers. > All director bio’s

NOT one of these people has had to ride a bus or Skytrain most of their lives. Each are completely out-of-touch with transit users. And there is NOT one person on the Board or Management representing the CUSTOMERS of TransLink.

The Board and Management must begin to LISTEN to Customers and Operators.


– TransLink is an inefficient organization

August 12, 2009

Vancouver Sun

Airline fares have dropped dramatically in recent years, but transit fares continue to climb

By Maureen Bader, British Columbia director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Ever wondered why airline fares have fallen dramatically over the past few decades but public transit fares have gone nowhere but up? It’s because the airline industry has gone through dramatic reforms while public transit providers, such as the Lower Mainland’s TransLink, have not. Until TransLink is reformed, transit riders and taxpayers can expect to continue to pay more for less.

For TransLink, between 2005 and 2008 productivity has declined, as the cost to transport one passenger one kilometer increased by 19.1 per cent. TransLink’s own 10-year plan shows operating expenses and debt servicing cost will rise by 20 per cent between 2009 and 2011 alone, while ridership is estimated to increase by only 2.3 per cent per year to 2012 and 1.5 per cent annually thereafter.There is no indication that TransLink’s share of Lower Mainland trips will increase beyond its historic share of approximately 11 per cent.

Reader’s Comment

TransLink is inefficient because the transit model it uses is inefficient. The bus and metro (SkyTrain & RAV/Canada line) model used by TransLink is circa 1950 and has been largely discredited. Metro is generally too expensive to build & operate and is poor in attracting ridership; buses are just poor in attracting ridership.

European transit planners discovered this in the 1970’s and moved away from hugely expensive metro systems to updated tram or streetcar systems (know as light rail or LRT) which both serves where people live and where they want to go.

Modern light rail is the transit mode for the 21st century and until TransLink’s planners and board of amateurs understand this, the organization will be forever inefficient and costly to run. Costly to run translates into higher taxes.

Full Story


Evergreen Line in danger without another $450 million per year, says TransLink

July 31, 2009

The Province

By Frank Luba

TransLink needs another $450 million in revenue annually or it won’t build the Evergreen Line — or add much other needed transportation.

The South Coast B.C. Transportation Authority believes it can only raise $275 million of that from its existing sources of revenue plus one it has tried and failed to institute before, a vehicle levy now called a Transportation Improvement Fee.

The range on that levy would be between $65 and $165, with an average of $122, and it would raise $150 million annually.

A further $175 million would have to come from new sources that would have to be approved the provincial government.

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast identified a potential source of that cash Thursday as road pricing, which turns roads and bridges into a commodity with a value like cell phone costs.


– TransLink continues to spend, spend, spend

July 31, 2009


TransLink eyes higher taxes, fares to address cash crunch

TransLink is warning the public to be prepared for increased taxes or deep cuts to transit service as it grapples with a huge cash crunch.

CEO Tom Prendergast says the transit authority needs to raise an additional $150 million a year just to maintain the existing public transit system in Metro Vancouver. An additional $300 million would see expansion to the existing system.

Prendergast said Metro Vancouver’s regional mayors’ council has to choose from three options that will shape the region’s public transit system over the next 10 years.

The first, where the transit authority gets no new funding, would mean a 40 per cent cut to bus service.

The second option is to maintain bus service at 2009 levels through increased fuel and parking taxes, as well as higher transit fares.

The third option is an expansion plan that would cost an additional $450-million per year, which TransLink can’t fund through existing taxes and fare sources.

The transit authority is looking to generate the additional funding needed through road user fees, a vehicle levy, tolls on bridges, increased fuel and parking taxes, and increased transit fares.

Full Story (102 comments)