Public Transit

This page introduces three current issues relating to the Metro Vancouver transit system and contains links to further discussion:

  • new sources of long-term funding for the system;
  • rapid transit along the Broadway corridor from Commercial Drive to UBC; and
  • TransLink efficiency and budgeting practices.

To fully understand these issues, it helps to be familiar with the division of responsibilities for the transit system. Hence, this page commences with a comment on the roles of TransLink and other entities and contains a link to a description of their roles.

The public transit pages are current to November 14, 2013. While I have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information, I cannot guarantee that it is free of errors. If you notice any errors, I would appreciate being informed of them.

Roles of TransLink and Other Entities

While primary responsibility for the transit system rests with TransLink, other entities also have roles to play: the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation, the Regional Transportation Commissioner, Metro Vancouver and the BC Government. Their roles are, for the most part, prescribed by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act, the legislation that governs TransLink.

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Long-Term Funding

TransLink currently has three main sources of revenue: user fares, fuel tax and property tax. The general consensus is that these sources have been maxed out. Little or no additional revenue can be expected, apart from inflation increases in user fares, additional revenue due to increased ridership, and the 3% per year permitted increase in revenue from property tax. Furthermore, fuel tax is anticipated to yield considerably less revenue than was projected in previous years' plans.

These revenue sources will not provide TransLink with the funds it needs in order to expand the transit system to keep pace with the growth of the region and to improve the system, including building new rapid transit lines and upgrading the Expo line. Thus, new revenue sources are required. These must be enacted in legislation, and hence the province has a key role in making additional revenue sources available to TransLink.

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Rapid Transit in Broadway Corridor

The Broadway corridor is the area that extends from Commercial Drive to UBC with an approximately 500 metre zone on either side of Broadway, as shown on this map (from TransLink's website). It is one of Metro Vancouver's busiest bus corridors and has even been described as the busiest bus corridor in North America. It is the most important east-west transit spine through Vancouver, providing transit users throughout the Lower Mainland with access to Central Broadway and UBC, which are major destinations, and connecting with many of the transit routes that serve local neighbourhoods within Vancouver.

TransLink's assessment is that existing transit services in the Broadway corridor do not provide sufficient capacity or service reliability to the major regional destinations and economic hubs within the corridor. Accordingly, TransLink has been considering alternatives for rapid transit in the corridor for several years.

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TransLink Efficiency and Financial Reviews

Two reviews of TransLink were conducted in 2012. The first review was initiated by the Regional Transportation Commissioner as a result of an application by TransLink for approval of a supplementary fare increase. The results of the review were announced at the end of March 2012. The other review was undertaken by the BC Ministry of Finance, which released its report in October 2012.

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