Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Transit fares are a real bargain

with 12 comments

Frank Bucholz Langley Times

It is surprising to find a positive opinion piece about Translink – and even more so from this writer and this “newspaper”. (It’s a free sheet with little news and lots of ads just like all of the local papers now.) But on the whole he is right.

What worries me a little is when he moves from the general to the specific. He seems to defeat himself when he admits that he continues to drive and spends more on travel – and his use of “random” examples of parking costs is a bit of an alarm signal. But it does mean he can stay with the simple financial considerations, and not get dragged into the complexities of issues such as service quality and the convenience of the car. Mode choice considerations are much more complicated than just looking at a fare.

But the fact that a journalist that I have always put at the conservative end of the spectrum reaches this conclusion now is, I think, significant.

It is, I believe, as important as the conversion of Pete McMartin into a sceptic on freeway expansion.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 27, 2008 at 10:06 am

Posted in transit

Tagged with

12 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Link is broken, but I agree that Translink’s fares are pretty cheap compared to many countries. What a $5, three-zone fare gets you here would easily be double that in many places, although service might be better and more convenient due to priority of trains over buses.


    January 27, 2008 at 11:24 am

  2. Sorry about that: the link is now fixed.

    It should have pointed to

    He does not compare to other places but the relative cost of transit vs the car – service and convenience are not discussed

    Stephen Rees

    January 27, 2008 at 11:38 am

  3. What really gets me is people who think that driving is cheaper than taking transit, especially those who say that with the fare hike, it’s “too expensive” to take transit and cheaper to take a car.

    As far as the fare hike goes, I’m not complaining too much because I use a transit pass (3-zone). However, I read that the increases in the last decade have been well more than inflation, while the justification behind the increases has insisted it’s commesurate with it. Top that off with broken promises and you get some pretty angry people. But the author’s revelations on how cheap the trips actually are for regular users are surprising! And he doesn’t even include the Sunday bonus.

    Erika Rathje

    January 27, 2008 at 6:35 pm

  4. Actually, I always wonder why people don’t buy more FareSavers. They really are a great deal. It’s great for the part-time transit user. $2.50 for 1-zone becomes $1.90. That’s a $0.60 saving with each trip. For the 3-zone FareSaver, it’s even better. A $5.00 fare becomes $3.80 with the FareSaver. Where can you save $1.20 on each trip like that.

    I always take transit when I can, especially if I’m only travelling by myself. Although I do admit I do use the car more than I probably should.


    January 27, 2008 at 7:22 pm

  5. Erika

    The problem that I always had with the inflation argument was that the data was easy to manipulate. Inflation proceeds – if not steadily at least all the time at varying rates. But fares go up by 25c steps (supposedly because customers hate nickels and dimes) every two years or so. So one can pick the dates to show that either fares track inflation – or they are ahead or behind.

    But for a real deal get a UPass!

    Stephen Rees

    January 27, 2008 at 7:56 pm

  6. My dad bought FareSavers and uses them maybe once every couple of months. Talk about part time! He bikes otherwise.

    Manipulating data seems to be common out here.

    Don’t even get me started on the UPass! My only consolation is that because I didn’t have it, I saved money for the 7 months following graduation, riding on my FastTrax sticker.

    Erika Rathje

    January 27, 2008 at 9:31 pm

  7. I *heart* my U-Pass!


    January 28, 2008 at 11:54 am

  8. As I told CBC this afternoon, UPass is too good a deal to be extended widely. VCC and Emily Carr want the same deal. But many more students use transit already at those schools – so a “revenue neutral” deal would not produce the same price that UBC and SFU pay. On the other hand, giving a school which already has a high transit ridership a break on the fares makes no sense since there is little more to be gained in ridership.

    Everyone wants a deal – why do students go to the front of the line? Why not the low paid, or seniors, or people with disabilities? Custom transit has been underfunded ever since it started and demographics alone show much greater need.

    Stephen Rees

    January 28, 2008 at 3:58 pm

  9. Then again, if transit ridership is already high, the costs to the system will be less as well, and we’ll have less of a “PassU” fiasco.


    January 29, 2008 at 9:17 am

  10. SFU and UBC gained a lot in terms of land not needed for future parking. I think they could have paid Translink more – or offered to share in the bounty of future development as a way to offset increased costs. As things stand now other transit users and all tax payers are picking up the the bill for UPass.

    The students at VCC and Emily Carr are arguing for “fairness” – but I am not convinced we can afford it!

    Stephen Rees

    January 29, 2008 at 9:43 am

  11. When the current agreements expire, TransLink will be in a position to raise the rates, and it will be up to the institutions how much they want to subsidize the passes.


    January 29, 2008 at 10:06 am

  12. […] did the people of Geneva . Though it was a bit of a surprise that Frank Buckholz thought our fares were a bargain. But this idea keeps coming […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: