Roles of TransLink and Other Entities

April 15, 2014:

The provincial government has introduced legislation (Bill 22) that will give the Mayors' Council a greater role in the governance of TransLink. The changes include the following:

  • TransLink's long-term (30 years) strategies will be subject to the approval of the Mayors' Council.
  • Base and supplemental plans will be replaced by 10-year investment plans that will be subject to the approval of the Mayors' Council.
  • The Mayors' Council will oversee the remuneration of TransLink executives and directors.
  • The position of Regional Transportation Commissioner will be abolished and most of the Commissioner's responsibilities will be assumed by the Mayors' Council.

A consultants' report titled TransLink Governance and Bill 22 is available from this TransLink page.

This page describes the roles of TransLink and various other entities with respect to the Metro Vancouver transit system. These roles are, for the most part, prescribed by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act, the legislation that governs TransLink (the TransLink Act).

This description of roles is limited to the transit system, in particular the planning, financing, construction and operation of the system. TransLink also has responsibility for other aspects of the broader transportation system, including the major road network. Certain of the other entities have additional responsibilities, e.g., the Regional Transportation Commissioner oversees the sale of major assets by TransLink.

To go to a specific section of this page, click on one of the following links:


TransLink is the regional transportation authority for the Metro Vancouver region. Its business is overseen by a Board of Directors that exercises the powers and duties conferred on TransLink by the TransLink Act. The Board consists of persons appointed by the Mayors' Council on the basis of their skills and experience. No elected officials serve on the Board.

The TransLink Act assigns TransLink a wide range of responsibilities, including:

  • managing and operating the transit system;
  • acquiring, constructing and maintaining assets and facilities required for the system;
  • preparing and implementing plans – strategic, service, capital and operational;
  • generating the funds required for its purposes; and
  • negotiating agreements with the province for contributions to the funding of the capital costs of maintaining, improving and expanding the transit system.

The TransLink Act requires TransLink to prepare a base plan each year. This is a plan for the following three years setting out how TransLink proposes to provide transportation services and meet its financial requirements. A base plan must be financed by established funding sources, accumulated reserves, and borrowing within TransLink's established borrowing limit. Each base plan must be accompanied by an outlook for the seven subsequent years.

In addition, TransLink may at any time prepare a supplemental plan in relation to a base plan. In general, a supplemental plan provides for expenditures in addition to those in the base plan and indicates how TransLink proposes to finance the increased expenditures (taxes, other sources of funds, borrowing – with an increase in TransLink's borrowing limit, if necessary). A supplemental plan would be prepared, for example, in respect of a significant expansion of the transit system.

Every five years, TransLink must prepare a long-term strategy, covering a period of at least 30 years. This strategy sets out TransLink's goals and directions for the regional transportation system and the key initiatives and other measures that TransLink anticipates will be needed to achieve the goals. The current long-term strategy was completed in July 2013.

While TransLink is required to consult with other entities in preparing these plans, only a supplemental plan is subject to approval. The approving entity is the Mayors' Council. In addition, if a supplemental plan contains certain fare increases, these must be approved by the Commissioner.

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Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation

The Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation is a body consisting of the mayors of each of the 21 member municipalities of Metro Vancouver, the Director of Electoral Area A, and the chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation. Its functions include the following:

  • TransLink must consult with the Mayors' Council on matters that it proposes to include in a base plan or supplemental plan, and generally on its long-term strategy.
  • The Mayors' Council is required to review and consider the annual base plan prepared by TransLink but cannot require changes.
  • The Mayors' Council approves or rejects each supplemental plan prepared by TransLink. Before approving a supplemental plan that proposes an increase in TransLink's borrowing limit, the Mayors' Council must consult with the Metro Vancouver Board.
  • The Mayors' Council may request that the province undertake a performance audit of TransLink. Performance audits initiated by the Mayors' Council are permitted every three years.

The Mayors' Council does not have any role in the implementation of TransLink's plans nor in the day-to-day operation of TransLink.

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Regional Transportation Commissioner

The Regional Transportation Commissioner is appointed by the Mayors' Council and is independent of the Mayors' Council and TransLink. The Commissioner's responsibilities include:

  • approving or rejecting TransLink applications for fare increases in excess of 2% annually or for new short-term fares (after the Mayors' Council has approved such increases or new fares by approving a supplemental plan in which they are contained);
  • reporting to TransLink and the Mayors' Council on the reasonableness of the parameters and assumptions (including expenditure and revenue estimates) in each base plan and supplemental plan; and
  • preparing an annual report for the Mayors' Council that includes an opinion as to whether TransLink's operations for the past year were in accordance with its plans.

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Metro Vancouver (Greater Vancouver Regional District)

Metro Vancouver's role with respect to the transit system is mainly a consultative one. TransLink is required to consult with Metro Vancouver when it prepares its long-term strategy, its base plans, and any supplemental plans. This is to ensure that these plans are consistent with Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). In this regard, the TransLink Act specifically requires the following:

  • TransLink is to provide a regional transportation system that supports the RGS.
  • TransLink's base and supplemental plans must set out the relationship between the major actions planned by TransLink and the RGS.
  • In preparing a long-term strategy, TransLink must consider, among other things, regional land use and environmental objectives, including air quality and greenhouse gas emission reduction objectives. The RGS includes transit ridership growth and mode shifting as ways to achieve these latter objectives.

Metro Vancouver also has a role in connection with increases in TransLink's borrowing limit. This limit can be increased by a resolution of the TransLink Board of Directors provided that the resolution is ratified by the Metro Vancouver Board. Alternatively, it can be increased by a supplemental plan that is approved by the Mayor's Council, in which case the Mayors' Council is required to consult with the Metro Vancouver Board before giving its approval.

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BC Government

The TransLink Act provides the following in relation to the province:

  • In preparing a long-term strategy, TransLink must consult with the province.
  • The province is required to negotiate with TransLink respecting the province's contribution to the capital costs of a major project.
  • The province may initiate performance audits of TransLink.

In addition, the province has an essential role in relation to the funding of the transit system. New revenue sources must generally be implemented by legislation and hence must be agreed to by the province.

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Further Information

Further information on the respective roles of the above entities can be obtained from the Governance Model page of the TransLink website, the Commission's Role page of the Commissioner's website, and the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act.

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