Stephen Rees's blog

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

Translink 2013 Supplemental Plan

with 7 comments

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?

Written by Stephen Rees

March 5, 2013 at 10:43 am

Posted in transit, Transportation

Tagged with

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. “light rail system for Surrey” – Surrey urgently needs rapid transit, but I think it is worthwhile to consider all technologies, including bus rapid transit (electric trolley, diesel or a mix of the two). Light rail is great, but ‘open’ bus rapid transit lines might be even better (particularly on the Fraser Highway route).

    Lets give the TransLink planners and consultants the respect of waiting for their report and recommendations, which will not be released until after the election. Would say the same for Broadway, I want to see the final reports (even thought I don’t think they are asking the right questions regarding the transit network as a whole.)

    Eric Doherty

    March 6, 2013 at 9:03 am

  2. Actually Eric the Translink Planners have released their reports on Broadway and Surrey
    You can download them from

    And I only said “light rail” as that is what Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts has been saying they need

    Stephen Rees

    March 6, 2013 at 9:22 am

  3. This is an opening for the NDP to build part of their campaign on. Let’s hope they’re watching.


    March 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

  4. Bus rapid transit = separated lanes–either with a divider to prevent private cars, trucks etc. to use these lanes– or in the center of a boulevard etc.
    Most rapid buses I see nowadays only have one trailer.

    In the 1990s and early 2000s–before the tramway replaced them –Bordeaux big buses had 2 trailers. They weren’t rapid buses as they were only used downtown, in congested streets built in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    BRT is not necessarily cheaper than a LRT, considering that the later can carry more passengers.

    I used the EMX last summer and was impressed..but still prefer a tramway (LRT in North America). Eugene is a relatively small town, so there is the usual opposition against taking car lanes and using them for transit only. The downtown area has some very pleasant features, with–as many US towns–lots of nice old buildings, nd the cheapest indoor parking I have ever seen (75 cents for the first 3 hours..)

    Eugene has an unconventional mix of jocks (it is the birthplace of Nike), artists and religious people

    Red frog

    March 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm

  5. In the Thursday, March 7, issue of 24 hrs (page 5) TransLink describe a Bus rapid transit thus: ” looks similar to a train with rubber tires that runs on separated lanes”
    Looks similar to a train?? most BRT are 40-50 ft long..Some train!

    Red frog

    March 7, 2013 at 11:08 pm

  6. Interesting pictures RF. Are you making the suggestion that BRT can be implemented ahead of upgrading to LRT (surface tram)? A kind of interim step until higher numbers are needed? The ROW issues would be taken up by the BRT. Some construction would be required, along with new vehicles, to get to LRT. But can it be a two-step strategy??

    A report comes to mind stating that there was a surplus of trolleys at Translink. So how about Trolley BRT (giving lanes over to trolleys on, say, Broadway, and building stops alongside)? Reasonable first step? Implement how quickly? And what kind of capacity boost over existing service from—say—having trolleys tripping the lights, getting lane priority, and rationalizing stops and passenger loading/off-loading?

    lewis n. villegas

    March 10, 2013 at 11:01 pm

  7. Lewis, LRT and BRT are coming closer together on a technical, ridership and cost basis. BRT is catching up by emulating many LRT features, including more stylish design (not by TransLink yet though — those boxy Flyer B-Line buses sre distinctly unsexy). It would be financially incoherent to replace one with the other.

    This is only one of several significant reasons why replacing the 99 on Broadway with surface LRT will never get beyond the idea stage, but starting with LRT on King George.could result in good value for public money fairly quickly because the quality of service would be a dramatic improvement over the existing, especially when adjacent land use is changed accordingly to realize the better world of walkable transit urbanism. Broadway is decades beyond a surface transit solution.


    March 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm

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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter 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: