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Archive for June 24th, 2010

TransLink’s draft three-year plan freezes transit service hours

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This is based on something I saw on the Straight’s web page. The first thing I did was go to Translink’s page to see if I could find and read the original. As usual, I had no luck at all. It’s not on the the “press” page – not is it linked to Board reports. It’s not on the “Transportation Planning” page either. Of course not. Transit service hours never had anything to do with planning at Translink. And one can only access very outdated material if you use the site’s search engine. This is what it told me

No results were found containing “2011 Base Plan and Outlook”

Basically, Translink really doesn’t want just anyone reading its reports.

When  I spoke at the BARSTA meeting this week, I made the point that Translink cannot expand its system. They are all worried about what they see as the imminent threat of a bored tube under Broadway, thanks to some Translink meetings held in the area. But really, it cannot happen.

TransLink spokesperson Ken Hardie explained in a phone interview that the plan will “keep things in a state of good repair”. But he also admitted that it doesn’t fund projects that would increase transit use, such as the long-delayed Evergreen Line.

“The base plan represents the level of services that TransLink can sustain based on its current revenues,” Hardie told the Straight.

Now it is also true that Translink doesn’t actually decide about major rapid transit projects – that’s always done by the province. They might proceed with the $2.8bn project (there is not, of course, any budgetary provision for that) but given the current state of their finances and the lack of private sector ability to fund P3s post 2008, it seems a remote possibility to me.

And, elsewhere it is noted that the extension of U Pass is going to create significant increases in transit demand, especially at peak periods.

Which is going to be met by service cuts. I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Becuase demand is going to increase, and there is no spare capacity, some places will lose some bus service so that others can get more. ‘

Although the plan maintains overall service, about four to five percent of conventional bus-service hours will be redirected by 2012. Through this, the transportation body expects to “increase the productivity of the system by just over two percent through increased revenue ridership”.

“It’s not the intention to cut service to save money,” Hardie explained. “It’s the intention to cut service to reallocate those services to where they can basically do a better job in terms of meeting demand in moving people.”

The last time I made this point some commenters took exception to my use of the words – but even Ken Hardie is now using the phrase “cut service”.

Elsewhere, like Whatcom county, matters are much worse: they are reducing transit service overall. So we could be worse off. But that is not much comfort – nor is it what should be happening. The idea that cutting public services is a good idea in a recession was shown to be bunk in the 1930’s. It did not work then in the way its proponents said it would. It is also the case that we need more transit – getting people out of cars is still one of the best ideas around for a whole range of worthy objectives – as regular readers of this blog will know. But the people we keep on electing to govern us still cannot see beyond their own short term self interest, and empty rhetoric. What saddens me is the number of people who appear to agree with this stupidity.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Posted in transit