VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – TransLink has announced deep cuts to its ambitious expansion plans. Three quarters of the new service hours it wanted to add to its existing bus routes have been eliminated.
“There’s 306,000 hours of service that is not going to be introduced over the next three years,” says TransLink Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning and Public Affairs Bob Paddon. “It’s needed service, we just can’t go there at this time.”
The problem is that TransLink does not have the money to fund the service expansion. Revenue projections used by the company last fall when the plans were approved appear to have been wrong.
“Some of the sources of revenue that were identified in this plan (Moving Forward) in 2011 are not coming through as we anticipated,” says Paddon. “Our forecasts indicate that over the next three years, the amount of toll revenue on the Golden Ears Bridge will be off by about $38-million.”
“The second thing is, for a whole number of reasons, the amount of fare revenue that we had anticipated coming in over the next three years will be down,” he adds. “There are a number of reasons for that.”
“One of them is that we can’t deliver all the service we thought. So, if the service isn’t on the street, people aren’t paying the fares, we don’t get the money.”
TransLink’s revenue from gas taxes has been declining in recent years, and the company has not found a replacement for the $30-million in annual funding that was lost when local mayors decided not to approve a new property tax.
As a result of these issues, the 2013 Base Plan tabled today by TransLink has identified an average of $98-million that needs to be cut from the budget in each of the next three years.
“This plan also acknowledges that our expansion is coming to an end,” says Paddon. “But from here on in TransLink will be working within its means.”
Despite the cuts announced today, TransLink is still adding more than 100-thousand hours of bus service, including the new rapid bus over the Port Mann Bridge and B-Line service on King George in Surrey.
The Evergreen Line rapid transit system is still under construction and plans to renovate seven stations on the Expo Line SkyTrain system will move forward.
TransLink has also been adding faregates at several of its rapid transit stations.