New rate set to compensate for inflation
By Keating Smith, Staff Writer
Metro Vancouver public transit users will now have to pay more to use all forms of public transportation, as TransLink increased fares by 10 per cent on January 1 in order to keep up with inflation costs. The fare increases were approved in 2009 as part of TransLink’s Funding Stabilization Plan and according to officials, the increases will not be paying for new services but services and infrastructure already being operated by the transportation authority.
The cost of the new No. 555 rapid bus line across the Port Mann Bridge connecting North Langley to Braid SkyTrain station, current construction on the Evergreen Line, and the new Compass card/fare gate project are not part of the fare increase, according to TransLink communications officer Drew Snider.
Under provincially legislated guidelines, TransLink is allowed to increase fares to meet inflation and operation costs by roughly two per cent each fiscal year. 2010 was the last time TransLink increased transit fares and this is this first across-the-board increase since 2008. Roughly one third or $400 million of TransLink’s revenue comes from transit fares each year. With the installment of the new fare gates at all SkyTrain stations and Compass card payment system, scheduled to be up and running towards the end of this year, fare evasion on all modes of transit will be more difficult for riders and will mean more captured revenue for TransLink.
With ridership in Metro Vancouver up 80 per cent over the last decade and a reported 233 million rides on transit alone last year, expansion of transit services and infrastructure is simply not keeping up with the influx in ridership.
TransLink also recently released data that shows their fare enforcement initiative enacted last fall has shown that although fare checks have increased, infractions have decreased. In 2011, Transit Police and SkyTrain security did 427,073 fare checks yielding 9,221 violation tickets. In 2012, 586,129 fare checks resulted in 8,898 bylaw infractions.
Many people are also expressing concerns of just how feasible riding public transportation in the Lower Mainland is becoming, criticizing the rise in costs as a potential consequence that may see a lot of residents using their vehicles to commute instead. TransLink, along with Toronto’s TTC and Montreal’s STM, have all lobbied Ottawa for a $1 billion handout in order to keep up with the rising costs of inflation to their transit systems over the past year.